UK Prime Minister Theresa May's most senior minister has resigned after an inquiry found he had made misleading comments about pornography found on his computer. It is a serious blow for an already isolated premier.
First Secretary of State Damian Green has resigned amid allegations pornographic material was found on his computer in the House of Commons in 2008.
"I regret that I've been asked to resign from the government following breaches of the Ministerial Code, for which I apologize," Green said in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.
Green's cabinet post is nominally the second most important in the government, although several other positions, particularly control of the finance ministry and foreign ministry, are deemed more prestigious in practice.
May told her de facto deputy, and former EU Remain campaigner, that his conduct had breached the ministerial code of conduct and "fallen short" of the behavior expected of ministers. He is the third minister to resign in the past two months following now former Defense Minister Michael Fallon and International Development Secretary Priti Patel.
A review of the case by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood found "inaccurate and misleading" statements made by Green in November in which he suggested he was not aware that indecent material had been found on the computers in his office.
However, May did have words for two former police officers who recently revealed details of what had been found on the computer in 2008. In her letter to Green, she wrote: "I shared the concerns raised from across the political spectrum when your Parliamentary office was raided in 2008 when you were a shadow home office minister holding the then Labour Government to account." She expressed approval for the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police's professional standards department, which is reviewing the comments made by the former officers.
Green has also been investigated for alleged inappropriate behavior towards a party activist, Kate Maltby. Maltby, who is 30 years younger than Green, told the Times newspaper that he had "fleetingly" touched her knee during a meeting in a London pub in 2015 and sent her a "suggestive" text message.
The 61-year-old Green described that allegation as "untrue and ... hurtful."
He admitted that his lawyers had discussed the pornography issue with police on two occasions.
"I accept that I should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers in 2008 about the pornography on the computers, and that the police raised it with me in a subsequent phone call in 2013," Green said in his letter of resignation.
May was not expected to immediately replace Green. He had been opposed to Britain leaving the EU prior to the 2016 referendum.
jm/sms (Reuters, AP)