Damian Green has quit the Cabinet after being asked to resign by the Prime Minister.
The politician is a key ally of Theresa May, and a personal friend since their time at university. He was also effectively deputy prime minister, standing in for May at PMQs recently.
He had faced investigations into two separate allegations – first, that pornography was found on his parliamentary computers a decade ago, and second that he had made inappropriate advances to Tory activist Kate Maltby.
His resignation letter accepted that he broke the ministerial code by denying knowledge of the pornography’s existence in November this year, but denies downloading or watching pornography on parliamentary computers himself. The prime minister’s letter calls his statements “inaccurate and misleading”.
Green also apologised to Ms Maltby, saying that he did “not recognise” her account of their meetings, but accepted that his behaviour made her “uncomfortable”. He denied suggestions that he had encouraged or co-operated with a Daily Mail article calling her a “pushy lady”.
Kate Maltby’s parents, who were once friends of Green’s, have given a statement to the BBC, saying that the investigation found her to be a “credible witness”. They added that they were “proud” of her for coming forward.
The resignation removes one of Theresa May’s most trusted ministers – and a key Remainer – from the Cabinet. Fellow minister David Davis had previously threatened to resign in solidarity if Green was “unfairly fired” over the computer allegations. (He has now told reporters he will not carry out this threat.)
Green’s departure was not expected by many at Westminster. The ITV political editor Robert Peston reported last week that three government sources had told him Green was safe.