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Cabinet minister Damian Green faces claims 'thousands' of porn images found by ex-police officer

‘THOUSANDS OF IMAGES’: Damian Green leaves his house in Ashford, Kent yesterday. “Thousands” of legal pornographic images were found on a computer used by the first secretary of state, a retired Scotland Yard detective has said PICTURE: Gareth Fuller/PA

FRIENDS of embattled Cabinet minister Damian Green have accused former police officers of seeking to blacken his name, after it was alleged that thousands of pornographic images had been found on his work computer.

Retired Scotland Yard detective Neil Lewis told the BBC he was "shocked" at the volume of material found in a 2008 raid on Mr Green's Westminster office and had "no doubt whatsoever" that it had been amassed by the Tory MP.

He stressed that none of the images were "extreme", but said analysis of the computer suggested they had been viewed "extensively" over a three-month period, sometimes for hours at a time.

Mr Green, who is the subject of a Cabinet Office inquiry into alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a young female activist, has denied looking at or downloading porn on the work computer.

The First Secretary of State - effectively Theresa May's deputy - declined to comment on Mr Lewis's allegations.

But friends of Mr Green said they were "gobsmacked" at the former detective putting his claims into the public arena and "outraged" by the BBC's decision to broadcast them.

And the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said it was launching its own inquiry about how information gathered during an investigation was made public.

Mr Lewis told the BBC he was involved in analysing the then opposition immigration spokesman's computer during a police investigation into Home Office leaks.

Although accepting that "you can't put fingers on a keyboard", he said a number of factors made him sure it was Mr Green himself who was accessing the "thumbnail" images.

"The computer was in Mr Green's office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name," said Mr Lewis.

"In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents... it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it."

The allegations echo claims made by former Met assistant commissioner Bob Quick, who Mr Green branded "tainted and untrustworthy" after he went public last month with his account of the material discovered in the raid.

A spokesman for the First Secretary of State said: "It would be inappropriate for Mr Green to comment on these allegations while the Cabinet Office investigation is ongoing; however, from the outset he has been very clear that he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computers seized from his office.

"He maintains his innocence of these charges and awaits the outcome of the investigation."

Tory MP Andrew Mitchell said his friend was entitled to be taken at his word.

"I think the hounding of Mr Green over information which everyone is clear was entirely legal and which he has emphatically denied either downloading or viewing is completely wrong," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Mitchell said it was "highly questionable" for a retired officer to use material in this way.

"Nine years later, after a pretty contentious raid of a senior politician's office, entirely legal information is leaked to blacken the name of a serving Cabinet minister, and I think that is wrong," he said.

Another friend of Mr Green told the Press Association he was "gobsmacked" and found it "deeply concerning that a former police officer who freely admits talking to Bob Quick is putting confidential and non-illegal details of a police investigation into the public domain, and equally outraged that the BBC would use such information from an unreliable source".

In a statement Scotland Yard said that, as is routine for such cases, its Directorate of Professional Standards would be conducting an inquiry into how the information was made public.

"Confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public," said the statement. "The appropriate course of action is to co-operate privately with the Cabinet Office inquiry, as the MPS has done."

Mr Lewis told the BBC it was unlikely anyone else in Mr Green's office could have been responsible for the stash of porn.

"It was so extensive, whoever had done it would have to have pushed Mr Green to one side to say 'Get out, I'm using your computer'," he said.

And he rejected as "very bizarre" any suggestion the material might have been placed on the machine by a hacker, pointing out similar images were also found on Mr Green's laptop.

Mr Lewis said he did not mention the pornography in his formal statement on his findings to his senior investigating officer, as it had "no bearing on the leak investigation".

But he kept a notebook relating to the raid after leaving the Met.

When instructed to delete data copied from the computers, he did so but kept the copies themselves in the knowledge experts would be able to retrieve the information if required.

Mr Lewis said he had decided to speak out after contacting Mr Quick to offer his support when his former boss came under attack from Mr Green, who has accused him of "character assassination" to cause political damage.

He said he had always been "uncomfortable" about the outcome of the investigation into Mr Green and found his denial that he had looked at porn on his work computer "amazing".

Downing Street declined to comment on the latest allegations.

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The Evening Standard reported that Brexit Secretary David Davis - who was Mr Green's boss as shadow home secretary at the time of the raid - had threatened to quit if his colleague was forced out over material found by police.

The paper quoted a "mutual friend of Mr Davis and Mr Green" as saying the Brexit Secretary had made clear to Prime Minister Theresa May "in words of one syllable" that he would find it difficult to stay in his job if the First Secretary was forced out.

Asked about the report, a source close to the Mr Davis told the Press Association only: "It's right that allegations of misconduct towards individuals are properly investigated, but police officers have a duty of confidentiality which should be upheld."

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Speaking to reporters at his Kent home, Mr Green said: "I've said I am not commenting any further while the investigation is going on.

"I have maintained all along and I still maintain - it is the truth - that I did not download or look at pornography on my computer, but obviously while the investigation is going on I can't say any more."

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Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the original raid on Mr Green's office was a "scandal".

Mr Rees-Mogg told BBC2's Daily Politics: "The police behaved disgracefully as a political arm of the then government: they raided an opposition minister's offices; they raided the House of Commons; this was a real scandal.

"And now the police, or ex-police, are using information obtained improperly to damage a politician.

"What we should be asking about is the politicisation of the police force under the last Labour government, not about Damian Green."

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