His cabinet colleague Michael Fallon saw the game was up and went of his own volition. But Damian Green, First Secretary of State and effectively Theresa May’s co-driver of the Tory clown car that masquerades as our Government, is still holding on to the political greasy pole, if only by his fingertips. Green was the first name on That Spreadsheet. He has also been fingered for having porn on a workplace computer.
That's right, Sir, keep those hands where we can see them
The latter is, for those in the real world outside Westminster, an instant dismissal offence. But Green has instead instructed Kingsley Napley, which means he has money to burn. The right-wing press may have eased off, if only to help the Empress Treeza steady her ship, but investigations are continuing elsewhere and he might as well jump before he gets pushed. Why that might be may be partially explained by his spreadsheet entry.
Although some copies of the spreadsheet of Tory MPs’ misdeeds have the first part of Green’s entry partially redacted, it is public knowledge: it says “Ashley Madison”. When the “cheating” website was hacked in 2015, as the Murdoch Sun put it, “The First Secretary of State was forced to deny being a member of Ashley Madison two years ago after his email address was found on the site’s database”. Not everyone was convinced.
Some merely concluded that Green was a randy old goat who had been rumbled. The rest of the entry on That Spreadsheet merely underscores that thought - it says “Handsy at parties”. So in addition to Sir Michael Fondle, knee-stroker extraordinaire and dead cat slinger supreme, we have Damian Grope, Ashley Madison non-member and female party goer toucher-upper with special responsibility for legal threats.
Worse for Green was the revelation that, as the Mail observed, “Pornography described as extreme found on the deputy prime minster's computer would have been illegal if it had been discovered just weeks later, it has been claimed … Some images found on the system were said to be so vile that police took advice from the CPS on whether to prosecute”. Not the Daily Mail’s kind of person, then.
So why is Green still in post? A Cabinet Office inquiry is in progress, and he is being given the benefit of the doubt in the meantime. The inquiry has already heard from Green and Bob Quick, the former senior Police officer who is believed to have been one of the sources confirming that porn had been found on the deputy PM’s office computer. The inquiry “is also looking at a separate claim that Mr Green … made inappropriate advances towards a female Conservative activist in 2015”. When will it report?
The Guardian claims that it “is expected to conclude within days after a series of interviews”, but ominously adds “Reports have claimed that May has drawn up plans for an emergency reshuffle in case her deputy is forced to resign”. Well, my information - no names, no packdrill - is that they need to hurry up, both with the inquiry and the readiness for a mini-reshuffle. Because Green’s skeleton cupboard may be about to be prised open.
Damian Green should have done as Fallon did - held his hands up and walked. The only beneficiaries of his hanging on will be the press - and of course Kingsley Napley.