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Never mind Damian Green, do you want the cops to have this power over you?

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has threatened to resign if Damian Green (the First Secretary of State, effectively Deputy Prime Minister) is sacked unfairly. Why, you may ask, is Davis – a Brexiteer – willing to put Theresa May’s already shaky government at risk for the sake of a Remainer like Green?

The Guardian link above explains it better than I can:

The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.

The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.

Green was a shadow Home Office minister at the time and was under investigation because he had received a series of sensitive Home Office leaks. He denies viewing pornography on his parliamentary computer.

At the time, the Conservatives were fighting some of the Labour government’s law and order measures on libertarian grounds and Davis was a strong backer of Green’s work.

Mark Wallace of Conservative Home writes,

Whether Green did what is alleged or not, the behaviour of the police in his case is appalling

Lewis is speaking out because he disapproves of what he claims he found. But on what authority is that his job, his responsibility, or his right? He gained access to that computer as a police officer, not as a self-appointed moral arbiter. The powers granted to police officers are given on the condition that they use them for specific purposes only. He was meant to be looking for evidence of crimes, not legal things which he could tut about. Separate to whether the Cabinet Office finds his or Green’s account to be true, is this really how we want former police officers to behave? If the police were to search your home or office or person, but fail to find evidence of any crime, is it acceptable that years down the line the officers involved could publicly embarrass you by claiming they found legal pornography, or anything else legal that they personally find morally icky? That’s an awful precedent, which would harm trust in the police and worry a lot of innocent people that private information might be being held over them. In a society under the rule of law we should all have a right to expect that the police do their job, but do not exploit their professional positions for personal grandstanding or moralising at a later date.

I took a look inside the College of Policing Code of Ethics: A Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales.

Under “Standard of Professional Behaviour” section 3.1.7, “Confidentiality”, it said:

I will treat information with respect, and access or disclose it only in the proper course of my duties.

According to this standard you must:
• be familiar with and abide by the data protection principles described in the Data Protection Act 1998
• access police-held information for a legitimate or authorised policing purpose only
• not disclose information, on or off duty, to unauthorised recipients
• understand that by accessing personal data without authorisation you could be
committing a criminal offence, regardless of whether you then disclose that personal data.

Do we want to set the precedent that if in the course of a search a police officer finds evidence of behaviour that is legal but frowned upon they can make it public?

28 comments to Never mind Damian Green, do you want the cops to have this power over you?

  • David Davis is as close as one gets to being a genuine yet sane conviction politician in this imperfect world of ours, so I am not at all surprised.

  • Penseivat

    Police officers sign The Official Secrets Act when they join and again when they leave. It appears that this ex Police officer has committed offences under this Act as well as The Data Protection Act, both of which are arrestable and subject to a custodial sentence. Just hope he doesn’t share a cell with Big Bubba.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    I believe the Met have just announced that they are investigating …veeeeeeery slowly.

  • the other rob

    When I read the excerpt from the Guardian piece, my subconscious mind inserted “child” before “pornography”. I believe that it did so because “adult looks at porn” is hardly news. It therefore tried to figure out why it might be news and settled on “child” as the answer.*

    It was only when I read Wallace’s reference to “legal pornography” that I did a double take, reread the Guardian excerpt and realised what my subconscious mind had done.

    Most people will not read Wallace’s words. I suspect that that is what Lewis is counting on.

    * In my defence, I’m somewhat sleep deprived at the mo.

  • Julie near Chicago

    other rob, I did the exact same thing myself just now. Only I don’t even have the excuse of being sleep-deprived today.

    Thank you for the comment.

  • Mr Black

    Until firing and prosecuting public servants of all kinds becomes a routine event, nothing will change. “Rules” don’t mean a damn thing to overlords. People would be better off simply shooting down these official criminals in the streets for it is the only justice they are ever likely to see applied to them.

  • Lee Moore

    My recollection – not the most reliable source I concede – is that the whole investigation was completely unjustified in the first place. Green received various leaks, and on the strength of that alone was investigated on suspicion of having conspired with the leaker. For which Plod found no evidence whatsoever. Not sure the newspapers would be too happy about the legal theory that any leak implies a conspiracy between leaker and leakee. (No doubt there are such conspiracies, but one would think that you have to have a bit more than the mere existence of the leak to justify the search of a leakee’s office and the seizure of his computer. )

    Looked awfully like G Brown investigating / intimidating his political opponents and taking the opportunity to have his opponents’ computer rifled through. I dread to think of the truckloads of smelling salts that would have had to have been delivered to the Beeb and the Graun, if it had been a Tory government and a Labour shadow minister’s office and computer searched.

    Looks like we have the same legal principles as in the US. It’s Ok to investigate members of the right wing party, but sacrilege to investigate members of the left wing one.

  • bobby b

    Lee Moore
    December 2, 2017 at 7:11 am

    “Looks like we have the same legal principles as in the US. It’s Ok to investigate members of the right wing party, but sacrilege to investigate members of the left wing one.”

    Which is both true, and frightening.

    Our investigative bodies are for the most part executive-branch agencies, ostensibly under the control of the executive Trump. But not really.

    These agencies are divided between “career” employees and “political” employees. Statutes call out which positions in government fall under which category.

    The “career” employees are protected to a great extent from the vagaries of political change – the executive cannot order them fired and replaced without “just cause.” This, in theory, was to protect the employment status of nonpartisan government employees, keeping them from being replaced whenever control of the executive branch changed as a sort of spoils system.

    The “political” employees take their positions knowing that a change in presidents will likely mean the loss of their employment. However, in many instances, the president must run these changes past Congress and give it a chance to veto his choices.

    So here we have the Perfect Storm for Trump’s executive agencies. One factor involves the fact that agencies are usually expanded under Democrat administrations, leaving the majority of employees – both “career” and “political” – hired by Democrats. (Obama famously packed hardcore partisan Dems into his agencies.) The second factor involves the ability of a close minority in Congress to substantially slow down the appointment of new people into “political” slots – especially when a portion of the Republican Congress consists of people seeking to make Trump look bad. The Cucks, as it were.

    What we’re left with right now is that the executive agencies are still, to a very great extent, the Obama agencies. One year in, Trump has had little effect on the overriding Democrat character of the exec agencies. Thus, we effectively have the Obama administration conducting investigations into the new Trump administration.

    Realistically, the conservatives would need three successive presidential terms (with a not-unfavorable total of Senators and Congressmen in each term) to create meaningful change in the Deep State. For this is what “Deep State” means.

    (If you live here or study our system, you already know this. I type this primarily for the benefit of those who are looking at our system and wondering why the Trump executive branch is so problematically causing trouble for the Trump administration.)

  • Plus one to Perry de Havilland (London), December 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm: “David Davis is as close as one gets to being a genuine yet sane conviction politician in this imperfect world …”

    Davis is also intelligent enough to know that there are worse issues over which to be sacked by May, then respond by challenging her for the leadership, but that merely speaks to the “imperfect world” point. The Tories at least know May cannot lead them into the next election, which is good provided you remember the joke about, “What does an optimist say under communism? ‘At least things can’t get any worse!’ ”

    As Churchill said, “For myself, I am an optimist. There does not seem much point in being anything else.” Were Theresa to be replaced with Davis, I would definitely feel a bit more optimistic.

  • Peter MacFarlane

    Unfortunately this is another example of the sorts of thing that happen when feminists (of either sex) are in charge. Facts and data no longer matter, everything is decided on feelings. If a feminist would feel “ooh, yuck” on observing a certain event, the legalities (old-fashioned, patriarchal nonsense – thank goodness we’ve moved on from those days!) don’t matter in the slightest; it’s automatically a crime, and the person suspected is automatically guilty. No process is required, feelings are all we need.

  • Mr Ecks

    May is a poisonous cultural Marxist BluLabour cow.

    Aside from spewing the classic “Viet-girls” trafficking tripe in the HoC, at the Home Office she presided over the Savile panic as well as Yewtree and the rise of hate-filled femmis like Saunders at the CPS.

    PdeH doesn’t believe she is a cultural Marxist. Well she might not know all the jargon but her actions clearly indicate her BluLabour support for ALL the most unpleasant manifestations of Marxian feminism ( and a great deal of the rest of CM crap as well). That makes her one for all practical purposes.

    Davis WOULD be vastly preferable but the moribund hacks of BluLab seem willing to just blunder along.

  • Alisa

    Same here, other rob and Julie. Quite amazing – or maybe not?

  • The government need to make an example of this corrupt ex-policeman. Absolutely smash him, and ensure nobody ever even dreams of doing something like this again. Any government that tolerates efforts to undermine it like this is simply not a government. The same could be said of much of what Trump is facing, too.

  • Alisa

    Isn’t going to happen though, is it?

  • Isn’t going to happen though, is it?

    With May in charge? Never in a million years.

  • Derek Buxton

    What A shame we have had the Common Law scrapped without our Consent, please can we have it back? A word about the Rules laid down for policing by Sir Robert Peel would not come amiss. We are now too close to a Police State, and May is not going to change that, I think she rather likes the idea!

  • Paul Marks

    I despise Mr “Remainer” Green (and the other ministers like him) – but what he has on his computer is his business (the police had no right to violate his privacy).

    As for David Davis – he appears to be a fine man, but I think he believes there can be productive talks with the European Union. I do not believe their can be productive talks with the European Union – indeed I think we have been led into a trap. Partly by the European Union – and partly by Remainer Theresa May, Remainer Philip Hammond and (yes) Remainer Damian Green. Their objective (as with the BBC) is to discredit British independence – before it has even occurred.

    I hope Mr Davis has not made the mistake of trusting the “Remainer” ministers.

  • Umbriel

    The events leading up to rising Democratic star Eliot Spitzer’s resignation as Governor of New York almost 10 years ago raised similar privacy issues, though the information was released more officially, and there were outright illegalities involved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Spitzer_prostitution_scandal

    I’m personally inclined to believe that any criminal investigations should be subject to secrecy unless actual charges are filed, as the category of “didn’t think we had enough evidence to persuade a jury” is a pretty broad one. One the one hand, this practice potentially provides some sort of check on prosecutorial discretion, making it a little harder for connected people to get things swept under the rug. On the other hand, it opens the door for abusive, substanceless “investigations” to be opened and leaked for the express purpose of smearing people. Where might the commentariat here draw the line?

  • Alisa

    Wait, this was his work computer, no?

  • Lee Moore

    Wait, this was his work computer, no?

    How do you mean ? As I understand it, this was the computer on which he did his work as an MP and Shadow Minister. As to who owned the computer I don’t know.

    But we are not looking at an analogy with a middle manager using his employer’s computer during the time when he is paid to work on his employer’s behalf instead surfing the net for porn. MPs and Shadow Ministers do not have jobs. They are not employees of anyone. They have no duties they are required to perform. They do not have working hours. What they choose to do with their time is their business, and in due course their constituents can decide whether or not they are happy with them.

  • Wait, this was his work computer, no?

    I don’t think it’s a criminal offence to watch porn on somebody else’s computer. I may be wrong.

  • Alisa

    Wh00ps, no one seems to have claimed it to be a criminal offence. The point of my question was that if a politician/gov. employee is using equipment provided to him by the employer (that is, ultimately, the tax payers), for extracurricular activities, the employer has the right to know about it, no?


    How do you mean ?

    See my reply to Wh00ps. I was really asking though, because I am not familiar with the circumstances of the incident, including the politician in question and his actual position at the time.

  • Lee Moore


    As I say, there is no analogy with employment. In particular there is absolutely no obligation that an MP spend his time in any particular way. As to equipment, that may be funded by grants to political parties for their Parliamentary business, and if it is not used for Parliamentary business but for some other purpose that may be a breach of the rules, which Parliament might choose to investigate. But there is no marginal cost to surfing the internet for porn on a computer provided to you for Parliamentary business. The cost of the computer and any costs of access to the internet are sunk costs, so I suspect any inquiry into misuse of Parliamentary funds would run rapidly into the sand.

    However the main point on which I’m pushing back is the notion that an MP has curricular and extracurricular activities, which notion is complete anathema to the UK constitution. An MP’s time is his own and he is answerable to no one except the electorate, unless he commits a criminal offence. And no, that does not mean the electorate therefore has the right to rootle around in his underwear drawer to see if he might be the sort of fellow who likes being tied up of an evening and spanked. The MP has the same rights to privacy as anybody else. If he chooses to have his spanking sessions recorded on video and is unwise enough to send them on the interweb to someone who chooses to send the video to the newspapers, and the electorate then get to hear about it, well that’s different. The mighty forces of the State have not been deployed to seize the video against his protests. He has merely dropped it carelessly in the street and that’s his own look out.

    But if the police seize the video while investigating the MP on suspicion of tax fraud*, no they don’t have the right to leak the story to the public because “the public has a right to know.” The public does not have a right to know.

    * or a “conspiracy”of the police’s own invention

  • Alisa

    OK, see your point – thanks.

  • carol42

    I understand that the pictures were thumbnail pictures only. Ten years ago as a 65 year old window living alone I found a lot of these pictures on my computer and have absolutely no idea how they got there so I am inclined to believe Mr. Green. It is probably harder now with modern technology. I eventually had to call a helpline to get rid of them.

  • Lee Moore

    Presumably the helpline was able to put you in touch with a bloke with a ladder, a bucket and some old cloths ?

    Sorry Carol 🙂

  • Carol42

    Good call! I should pay more attention to the spelling the computer decides I want. Not Hillary Clinton though when it comes to wiping my computer.