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Education Secretary ramps up pressure on Damian Green over computer porn claims

Justine Greening said it was important to have “high standards” in public life.

A Cabinet minister has piled pressure on beleaguered First Secretary Damian Green, saying it was “not acceptable” if he used a House of Commons computer to view pornography.

With a report into his conduct expected within days, Education Secretary Justine Greening said it was important to have “high standards” in public life.

Tory MPs have been rallying round Mr Green following claims by two retired police officers that pornographic images were found on his Commons computer during a 2008 investigation into Home Office leaks.

Mr Green, who is also under investigation over claims of inappropriate behaviour towards a woman Conservative activist, has strongly denied using the computer to watch the porn.

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Justine Greening speaks to Andrew Marr (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Asked on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show whether it was acceptable to view pornography on a workplace computer, Ms Greening said: “There are clear laws. I think most employers would say it wasn’t acceptable.”

Ms Greening declined to comment directly on the investigation into Mr Green, but added: “I think it is important that we have high standards in public life.”

Fellow Cabinet minister, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, however, voiced his support for Mr Green and said it was important to await the outcome of the inquiry by the head of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, Sue Gray.

“I know Damian Green as a colleague and I trust him absolutely and that’s why I believe what he says, but there is an investigation, and I think, we should wait,” he told ITV’s Peston On Sunday.

“I think we have to allow her (Ms Gray) to make that judgment, but what we can’t do is have trial by media and everyone jumping to conclusions when we don’t know the outcome of that investigation.”

Ms Greening’s intervention came amid reports that senior aides to Theresa May believe Mr Green, who is effectively her deputy prime minister, should resign to spare the Government further embarrassment.

The Sunday Times reported her chief of staff Gavin Barwell was among those concerned that, because they were so close politically, it would look as though she was protecting “her mate’s job” if he stayed.

Meanwhile allies of the minister directed their anger at the two former Metropolitan Police officers who leaked details of the 2008 police investigation when Mr Green was an opposition home affairs spokesman.

On Friday, ex-detective Neil Lewis told the BBC he was “shocked” at the volume of pornographic material found on Mr Green’s Commons computer and had “no doubt whatsoever” it had been amassed by the Tory MP.

The allegation echoed claims made by former assistant commissioner Bob Quick, who went public last month with his account of the material discovered during a police raid on Mr Green’s office.

Their actions were strongly condemned by the chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, who said police had an “enduring” duty of confidentiality, even after they had left the service.

“Such violations may have a chilling effect on the willingness of victims and witnesses to co-operate with the police, and that will be at the expense of public safety and justice. They should never occur,” he said.

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