“Betraying Everything They Stand For” – The True Cost Of Porn On Damian Green’s PC

 

Damian Green’s denials – that he wasn’t responsible for the porn found on his Westminster computer – are nothing new.  By that I don’t mean the fact of his consistent reputation of them. I mean men who have looked at porn on their works computer in works time often (in fact usually) say that it was nothing to do with them. They say it until they are blue in the face. But then they would, wouldn’t they – because if you have indeed done that which you are accused of, what other defence have you got than to deny everything.

 

So I am skeptical about Mr. Green’s bona fides on this, and that doubt comes from seeing dozens upon dozens of similar cases in my 30 years as a union rep. But just because I think he “did it” doesn’t mean that he did, doesn’t mean that he should resign and doesn’t mean he isn’t entitled to a fair hearing. Innocent until proved guilty is a vital maxim. The alternative is mob rule. Do those calling for him to quit, or to be fired really want that? No, I thought not.

 

So let’s look at the new evidence that has grabbed media and public attention. A detailed statement from a now-retired police officer.  He says he is motivated by a deep sense of unease about the investigation and unfair criticism of his colleague and senior officer. His testimony is impressively detailed. It’s hard to imagine how a third party could have interleaved the offending images with other documents and browsing that the person logged into the pc as Mr. Green was viewing. It’s also hard to imagine how anyone else could have been using his ID given the non-contentious material that was being accessed alongside the pornography.

 

But all that is for an investigation. And if I was involved in this I would not entertain the colourful contribution. By the officer who examined the pc in question, the now-retired Neil Lewis. Now other senior officers have already passed judgement on this – Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Manchester said very clearly- it’s not the job of the police to call politicians out if they think they are lying.

 

This is a very basic tenant of natural justice here: The new information is inadmissible because of its provenance. There is a fundamental obligation on cops not to discuss cases in public – and not to do so in such a prejudicial way. To go down such a road would lead to judges being replaced by newspaper editors………..

 

If this material was discovered whilst police were searching for something else (leaked documents in this specific case). Then the right thing to do would have been to alert the Parliamentary authorities. There should have promptly investigated and come to a view. If they chose not to do anything, maybe that would be another matter, but it is fundamentally their responsibility/call.

 

That is now happening, it seems, and Sue Gray, the cabinet office head of propriety is expected to report imminently.  The problem there is that her report is into alleged inappropriate behavior. By Mr. Green is respect of a former colleague, Ms Maltby.  The Lewis revelations are arguable. An unhelpful distraction.

 

And I think that description – a distraction – is correct.  This is material that is now 9 years old.  How can anyone have fair hearing given the length of time that has passed? Recollections become hazy, evidence perishes, and leads go cold.   Especially when it comes to something that, apparently, does not involve allegations of illegality, where is the justification for going that far back?

 

Mr. Green is absolutely not my political “cup of tea”, but let’s stick to the issues and be sure to act appropriately. In reaching a view as to his conduct.  Not to do so makes any outcome inherently unsafe and brings us all into disrepute.

 

Matthew D’Ancona, (whose excellent book on regaining control of our post-truth world is a must-read) writes today that if the porn on that pc is Damian Green’s  he must quit because May’s deputy will have “ been shown to betray everything they stand for”.  Hmm.   The real political question would therefore seem to be what does the current leadership stand for? A bigger issue  perhaps than the  fate of one politician, however senior.

Photocredit: Ray Wise/Getty

 

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