LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May fired one of her closest allies in the cabinet for having told lies, a government minister confirmed on Thursday.
May asked her de facto ministerial deputy, Damian Green, to stand down from his post and the 61-year-old now former First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office was left with no choice but to resign, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
Green “was asked to quit” after an inquest found he had made “inaccurate and misleading statements” in the wake of claims that a “surprisingly” large amount of pornography was found in 2008 on Green’s parliamentary personal computer, Hunt said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s early morning “Today” program Hunt said Green had “lied” about “a particular incident” and had to go, although adding it was a “sad moment.”
May expressed her “deep regret” at losing Green, but also said his actions “fell short” of what was expected of a UK cabinet minister.
The sacking is a personal blow to the prime minister as Green was a longtime confidant and friend going back to their Oxford University days.
Green is the third cabinet minister forced to quit within two months after secretary of state for defense Michael Fallon and international development minister Priti Patel were compelled to leave their jobs in November.
Green had strenuously denied downloading or watching any pornography on his Westminster Member of Parliament office’s computer.
In his resignation letter, Green stated he should have been “clearer” on what he knew about the pornographic files, in particular his lawyer’s meetings with London Metropolitan Police lawyers after the initial discovery in 2008 and assisting police inquiries during a 2013 phone call.
However, the Cabinet Office’s report concluded that Green’s public statements relating to what he knew were also “inaccurate and misleading,” thereby constituting a breach of the ministerial code.
In addition, Green was in an increasingly beleaguered situation as he was also being investigated for his alleged “inappropriate behavior” in 2015 towards journalist and Tory activist Kate Maltby which Green had also denied, although the cabinet report has considered Maltby’s account as “plausible.”
May has yet to announce Green’s successor, but this quite probably will not happen until the New Year as Parliament goes into Christmas recess at the end of Thursday.