Theresa May sacks lifelong friend and de facto deputy Damian Green
THERESA May has sacked her lifelong friend and de facto deputy Damian Green after he made "misleading" statements about allegations that police found pornography on computers in his parliamentary office in 2008.
Mr Green leaves his post as first secretary of state continuing to deny "unfounded and deeply hurtful" claims he downloaded or viewed porn on his parliamentary computer.
But an investigation by the Cabinet Office found two statements Mr Green made on November 4 and 11, which suggested he was not aware indecent material was found in a 2008 police raid, were "inaccurate and misleading" and breached the ministerial code.
Mrs May said she was "extremely sad" to ask her close ally to resign but stressed his behaviour "falls short" of the Seven Principles of Public Life.
It is understood the PM asked Mr Green to resign after summoning him to Downing Street on Wednesday evening, and is not planning to replace him until the new year at the earliest.
The inquiry was triggered after Kate Maltby, who is three decades younger than Mr Green, claimed he "fleetingly" touched her knee during a meeting in a pub in 2015, and a year later sent her a "suggestive" text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in a newspaper.
Reporting the inquiry's findings, Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said that with "competing and contradictory accounts of what were private meetings" it was "not possible to reach a definitive conclusion on the appropriateness of Mr Green's behaviour with Kate Maltby in early 2015, though the investigation found Ms Maltby's account to be plausible".
Mr Green's sacking follows the November resignation of Sir Michael Fallon as defence secretary amid Westminster sleaze allegations which engulfed a number of politicians, and international development secretary Priti Patel over undisclosed meetings in Israel, and could pile pressure on the PM.
Sir Michael said his behaviour had "fallen below the high standards required" after he admitted putting his hand on the knee of radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer some years ago.
In a letter to Mr Green, Mrs May said: "While I can understand the considerable distress caused to you by some of the allegations which have been made in recent weeks, I know that you share my commitment to maintaining the high standards which the public demands of ministers of the crown.
"It is therefore with deep regret, and enduring gratitude for the contribution you have made over many years, that I asked you to resign from the government and have accepted your resignation."
Mr Green apologised for making misleading statements and said he "regrets" being sacked.
In a letter to the PM, he said: "From the outset I have been clear that I did not download or view pornography on my parliamentary computers.
"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.
"I apologise that my statements were misleading on this point.
"The unfounded and deeply hurtful allegations that were being levelled at me were distressing both to me and my family and it is right that these are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police's professional standards department."
Mr Green apologised to Ms Maltby.
"I deeply regret the distress caused to Kate Maltby following her article about me and the reaction to it," he said.
"I do not recognise the events she described in her article, but I clearly made her feel uncomfortable and for this I apologise."
Mrs May, who has been friends with Mr Green since university, said: "You have expressed your regret for the distress caused to Ms Maltby following her article about you and the reaction to it.
"I appreciate that you do not recognise the events Ms Maltby described in the article, but you do recognise that you made her feel uncomfortable and it is right that you have apologised."
A source close to Brexit Secretary David Davis confirmed he would not quit the Government in protest at Mr Green's sacking, despite a report earlier this month that he had threatened to resign if the First Secretary of State was forced out over the material found by the police.
Mr Davis was Mr Green's boss as shadow home secretary at the time of the police raid.
Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael said: "Christmas can't come early enough for Theresa May as her cabinet continues to crumble.
"Midwinter is going to be especially bleak for a Government barely holding itself together."