British prime minister's deputy resigns over conduct probe
London (United Kingdom) (AFP)
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday accepted the resignation of her deputy Damian Green, who announced he was stepping down following a probe into his conduct.
"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," May wrote in a letter addressed to Green, the first secretary of state.
The departure of one of the prime minister's closest aides is the result of an investigation into Green's conduct following newspaper allegations published last month.
The Sunday Times reported that pornography was found on his parliamentary computer in 2008, while writing in The Times a journalist claimed Green acted inappropriately towards her in 2015.
In its report the Cabinet Office said Green had breached the ministerial code when he made "inaccurate and misleading" statements, by falsely claiming he was unaware that indecent material had been found on his computer.
London's Metropolitan Police had told Green about the pornography found, the Cabinet Office noted, without drawing conclusions on whether he had viewed the material.
In a summary of the report findings published by May's Downing Street office, the investigation did not draw definite conclusions on Green's behaviour towards the journalist Kate Maltby.
- Scandal at Westminster -
In his resignation letter Green apologised for breaching the ministerial code, while denying that he downloaded or viewed pornography in parliament.
He also expressed his regret at the "distress caused" to Maltby, who claimed Green touched her knee and later sent her a suggestive text message.
"I do not recognise the events she described in her article, but I clearly made her feel uncomfortable and for this I apologise," he wrote.
Green's resignation comes as part of a broader scandal over sexual harassment at Westminster, which erupted weeks ago and prompted the departure of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon last month.
Numerous other claims have been made against those working in politics, prompting the prime minister to call for rules on MPs' behaviour to be toughened.
Green's position had been under question during the investigation, although his resignation was not a foregone conclusion.
A former journalist, Green was first elected to parliament in 1997 and rose through the ranks to become work and pensions secretary last year under May.
He was promoted to the position of first secretary of state by the prime minister following the disastrous June election, which saw the Conservatives cling onto power but lose their majority in parliament.
In his resignation letter Green indicated he would stay on as a lawmaker, thanking his constituents for their support and vowing to "continue to argue for the modernising conservatism I have always believed in".
© 2017 AFP