So, a former Met detective, Neil Lewis, professes himself ‘shocked’ – yes ‘shocked’ – by the amount of pornography allegedly found on the computer of the Deputy Prime Minister, Damian Green, in 2008. He had analysed the way the computer in question had been used and declared he had ‘no doubt whatever’ that it was Mr Green, then opposition Home Affairs spokesman, who had used it. ‘The computer was in Mr Green’s office…logged in, his account, his name’, said Mr Lewis (at the time working as a computer forensics examiner for counter terrorism operations). ‘It was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it,’ he added.
Well, I like to regard myself as the last prig standing – though I concede that Jacob Rees-Mogg may share my views – when it comes to pornography; on this one, my instinct is to draw my skirt warmly around me as I stick my nose in the air and make for the high moral ground. But my first, instinctive and only reaction to Mr Lewis’s revelations is to wonder what the hell the police are up to. The original 2008 investigation into parliamentary leaks, when the police were allowed – extraordinarily – to search MPs’ offices, was, to my mind a disgrace. And the original, objectionable nature of that investigation – pretty well regardless of its findings – is compounded by the police now using material discovered during the course of rooting around parliamentarians’ offices in order to discredit some of those parliamentarians.
It’s not just Mr Lewis either. The charges against Mr Green, who is being investigated for separate allegations of sexual impropriety, were first raised by Bob Quick, former Met assistant commissioner, who declared that he found material of an ‘extreme pornographic nature’ on Mr Green’s computer. Mr Green responded that this was a ‘flagrant breach of his duty to keep the details of police investigations confidential’. At which point, everyone knowingly tapped the side of their nose; journalists joyfully shared notes about what, precisely, was the nature of the pornography which shocked the boys in blue.
But you know what? Damian Green was right. And Andrew Mitchell, another MP who had a run in with the coppers and lost, is right to defend him. It’s not the Met’s bloody business how many thumbnail images Mr Green has on his computer. It is not for Messrs Lewis or Quick to grandstand about how shocked they are at dirty pictures. It may be a matter for the Commons authorities if Damian Green is misusing parliamentary equipment – though the stats about pornography accessed from the Commons suggests he’s not the only one – or it may be something for the PM to weigh in on, in full vicar’s daughter mode. It may be a matter for concern to Mr Green’s constituents that he’s not spending his every waking moment working on their behalf. It may even be a matter for Mr Green’s parish priest (he was top of the Tablet’s top 100 Catholics last month) or for Mrs Green. It is not retired policemen’s business to use material they gathered in the course of one (improper) police search to stick the boot into the deputy PM or anyone else now. Vengeful bastards, aren’t they?
I’m about to spend a happy few minutes reading the Ministerial Code. If that has anything about looking at dirty pictures on your office computer it really would surprise me.