GREEN LEAK PO­LICE ‘IN BREACH OF CODE’

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - GAVIN COR­DON Re­porter news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

THE leak of al­le­ga­tions that po­lice found porno­graphic im­ages on the work com­puter of Cabi­net min­is­ter Damian Green should never have hap­pened, the chief in­spec­tor of con­stab­u­lary has said.

Amid the grow­ing po­lit­i­cal furore over the way two re­tired of­fi­cers passed de­tails to the me­dia, Sir Thomas Win­sor said po­lice had an “en­dur­ing” duty of con­fi­den­tial­ity, even after they had left the ser­vice.

In a state­ment, he said if a serv­ing of­fi­cer had breached that duty they would face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion po­ten­tially lead­ing to dis­missal and, in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, crim­i­nal charges.

“The spe­cial pow­ers which cit­i­zens con­fer on po­lice of­fi­cers are in­sep­a­ra­ble from the obli­ga­tions of spe­cial trust placed in po­lice of­fi­cers to en­able them to do their duty,” Sir Thomas said.

“That trust requires every po­lice of­fi­cer to re­spect and keep con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion which they ob­tain in the course of their du­ties and which is ir­rel­e­vant to their in­quiries and dis­closes no crim­i­nal con­duct.

“The obli­ga­tion of con­fi­den­tial­ity, and the duty not to break trust, is an en­dur­ing one. It does not end when a po­lice of­fi­cer re­tires.”

Former Greater Manch­ester chief con­sta­ble Sir Peter Fahy said the re­tired of­fi­cers were en­ter­ing “dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory” and that the po­lice should stay out of pol­i­tics.

His warn­ing came after former at­tor­ney gen­eral Do­minic Grieve said the leaks – which have left Mr Green’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer hang­ing in the bal­ance – had “the smack of the po­lice state”.

On Fri­day ex-Scot­land Yard de­tec­tive Neil Lewis told the BBC he was “shocked” at the vol­ume of ma­te­rial found in a 2008 raid on Mr Green’s West­min­ster of­fice and had “no doubt what­so­ever” that it had been amassed by the Tory MP.

The al­le­ga­tions echoed claims made by former Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner Bob Quick, who went pub­lic last month with his ac­count of the ma­te­rial dis­cov­ered dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Home Of­fice leaks.

Sir Peter strongly re­jected sug­ges­tions the men had been act­ing in the pub­lic in­ter­est, say­ing of­fi­cers had a duty to pro­tect con­fi­den­tial­ity of in­for­ma­tion un­cov­ered in the course of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion even after they had re­tired.

“It is very dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory for a po­lice of­fi­cer to be mak­ing judge­ments about whether a politi­cian is lying or not.

“That should only hap­pen in a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and even then ul­ti­mately it is for a court to de­cide,” he told the BBC Ra­dio 4 To­day pro­gramme.

“Po­lice should also be ex­tremely care­ful about mak­ing judge­ments about other peo­ple’s moral­ity when it is not a mat­ter of crime.

“It is some­thing really cen­tral to our democ­racy that the po­lice are not in­volved in pol­i­tics.”

As Con­ser­va­tive MPs ral­lied round em­bat­tled Barry-born col­league Mr Green – who is ef­fec­tively Theresa May’s deputy prime min­is­ter – Mr Grieve said the ac­tions of the ex­of­fi­cers were “very wor­ry­ing”.

“This can’t be right. They are in fla­grant breach of their own code of con­duct and prac­tice,” he told BBC2’s News­night.

“It has the smack of the po­lice state about it. I find it very wor­ry­ing.

“We give the po­lice pow­ers that other peo­ple do not have. They are not and must not be al­lowed to abuse those pow­ers.”

How­ever the ex-of­fi­cers’ de­ci­sion to go pub­lic was de­fended by former Glouces­ter­shire chief con­sta­ble Tim Brain.

“Let’s just think about this as a work­place com­puter and think whether we are happy that peo­ple, our MPs, can have this kind of ma­te­rial on what is an of­fi­cial com­puter,” he told News­night.

“No­body is ac­tu­ally doubt­ing the fact that there is some kind of elec- tronic trace of this ma­te­rial on the com­puter. So we need to have some an­swers now this in­for­ma­tion is in the pub­lic do­main.”

Mr Green, who is the sub­ject of a Cabi­net Of­fice in­quiry into al­leged in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour to­wards a young fe­male ac­tivist, has de­nied look­ing at or down­load­ing porn on the work com­puter.

Mean­while, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice has said it is launch­ing its own in­quiry about how in­for­ma­tion gath­ered dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was made pub­lic.

Mr Lewis said he was in­volved in analysing the then-op­po­si­tion im­mi­gra­tion spokesman’s com­puter dur­ing the 2008 in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Home Of­fice leaks.

He stressed that none of the im­ages were “ex­treme” but said anal­y­sis of the com­puter sug­gested they had been viewed “ex­ten­sively” over a three-month pe­riod, some­times for hours at a time.

Speak­ing to re­porters at his Kent home on Fri­day, Mr Green said: “I have main­tained all along and I still main­tain – it is the truth – that I did not down­load or look at pornog­ra­phy on my com­puter but ob­vi­ously while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is go­ing on I can’t say any more.”

Damian Green

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