Green Out: Was It For Conduct, Lies, Or Porn?

LONDON – In the wake of the forced resignation of Damian Green, I find myself wondering whether things might have played out differently if porn had never been found on a computer in Green’s parliamentary office.

This is not to say Green did nothing else to deserve being forced to resign (his alleged sexual harassment of Kate Maltby sounds potentially dismissal-worthy, for starters), but as I read the reports about the scandal which led to Green’s downfall, the porn on his computer sounds like the sole piece of evidence which Green couldn’t credibly deny.

This didn’t stop Green from trying to avoid consequences over porn on his computer, of course. The problem is his explanation wasn’t deemed credible by investigators, from the UK Cabinet Office, which termed Green’s denials “inaccurate and misleading.”

On the other hand, the same investigators said while Maltby’s account of Green’s inappropriate behavior toward her were plausible and believable, it was “not possible to reach a definitive conclusion on the appropriateness of Mr. Green’s behavior.”

Ultimately, then, it was Green’s porn (or his handling of the explanation thereof, at least) which left his boss, Prime Minister Theresa May, with no choice but to kick him to the curb.

Finding that Green’s behavior amounted to a “breach of the ministerial code,” May said she no choice but to demand his resignation.

“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 to Green which was also released to the media.

Remarkably, in his response to May’s letter, Green continued to deny responsibility for the porn on his computer, while saying he accepted the need to resign, nonetheless.

“I accept that I should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers in 2008 about the pornography on the computers, and that the police raised it with me in a subsequent phone call in 2013,” Green wrote. “I apologize that my statements were misleading on this point.”

I also can’t help but note Green used remarkably similar words to describe both the allegation he downloaded the porn in question (“unfounded and deeply hurtful”) as he did to respond to Maltby’s accusation (“completely untrue” and “deeply hurtful”).

It’s possible, of course, both denials are valid, and Green has been ousted simply for inaccuracies regarding prior statements about when and how often the police had discussed with him the presence of porn on parliamentary computers. But my bullshit detector, which has been honed through years of reading and hearing (and, admittedly, making) bad excuses in and about the workplace tells me Green still hasn’t come entirely clean.

Consider a text Green sent Maltby and his explanation thereof, as well.

Green doesn’t deny sending Maltby a text which read: “Long time no see. But having admired you in a corset in my favorite tabloid I feel impelled to ask if you are free for a drink anytime?” He just tries to explain it away as an innocent, if quite cheeky, missive to an old friend.

“I have known Ms. Maltby since she contacted me as board member of Bright Blue, the Conservative think tank, in 2014, and we have had a drink as friends twice-yearly,” Green said. “The text I sent after she appeared in a newspaper article was sent in that spirit – as two friends agreeing to meet for a regular catch up – and nothing more.”

On the one hand, this might seem a plausible explanation. On the other, when I contact female friends to see they’d like to catch up over drinks, I take pains to make sure they know it’s a purely platonic pursuit on my part (unless it isn’t, of course) – and one of the ways I do this is not by stating I was inspired to get in touch by seeing a picture of them wearing a corset.

So, was Green dismissed over his conduct, his porn, or his lies?

The easy answer is “all of the above,” I suppose. But when you parse it all out, and consider how even in the age of #MeToo, flat denials sometimes do the trick to keep an alleged creep in his job, I think we must conclude porn was the smoking gun here – so to speak.

 

Parliament image © Joe Green

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