back to article Ex-cop who 'kept private copies of data' fingers Cabinet Office minister in pr0nz at work claims

Cabinet Office Minister Damian Green has been caught up in a fresh row over his Parliamentary computer habits after the BBC reported that he had porn on his parliamentary PC a decade ago. Neil Lewis, a former Scotland Yard detective specialising in computer investigations, was given a platform by the BBC's morning TV news …

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  1. Robert Moore
    Coat

    It is known

    That 8 out of 10 people admin to looking at porn on the internet, and the other 2 people are liars.

    1. Paul

      Re: It is known

      The other two use a VPN and incognito mode so they can be plausible in their lies

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: It is known

      Nothing wrong with looking at porn - I do. And I have known a fair few women that wanted to watch porn with me - their idea not mine. Whats wrong is doing it on a work PC / network. Its not your thing to do what a lot of people find disreputable on

      ==

      Anyway. Anecdote. My first proper IT job (I'm 48 - do the math) was on the Home Office IT Desktop Support Contract. Working for Sema (now long absorbed into Atos). The security team had their own little secure office but had a shared printer just outside the office door. Occasionally as you went to pick up your print a red faced security man or woman would bumble out and grab their print off the printer with you getting a quick flash of monochrome pics of various levels of depravity.

      People are people whether they work for the government or not. We all get horny. But, as my best mate says "don't shit on your food".

      ==

      Edit: Another anecdote.

      Not long, 7-8 years after my home office stint I was working at Cheshire County Council - dull job - bit of a filler. I got pulled into an office one day and quizzed on the websites I had been accessing at work. Porn? Gambling? Political? No. The agency website I needed to go to submit my time-sheet, and of course, guess? El Reg.

    4. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It is known

      That 8 out of 10 people admin to looking at porn on the internet, and the other 2 people are liars.

      I, for one, prefer the real thing, am not interested in watching others ! If 20 years ago "counts", then yeah ... I had a look, got envious which made me feel bad, that was that.

      I think watching pr0nz, even thumbnails, on a work machine is a big No-No, unless, of course, it is "work-related", good luck with that. I'm testing the new version of the video-decoding library can be done with other material!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue I have with this

    Is that this was done on a work PC on a work network.

    This is not private viewing at home. Anyone doing anything like this at work would be summarily fired.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: The issue I have with this

      Is that this was done on a work PC on a work network.

      Not an issue.

      Let me remind you of the cornerstone of UK legal system. THE PARLIAMENT IS SOVEREIGN AND SHALL NOT BE BOUND.

      So even if there was an AUP applicable to parliamentary computer assets (surprise, surprise, there is not), it cannot be applied. Catch 22.

      You, me, the proles will be fired. An MP - not a chance. Because - he actually cannot be fired. He can (in theory) be prosecuted. However, as the police has noted many times around this story - this was LEGAL pornography. Straight one too. So no grounds to do that either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The issue I have with this

        "You, me, the proles will be fired. An MP - not a chance."

        A minister who is found to have lied to Parliament is usually sacked from their ministerial role. The nature of the offence they covered up would not necessarily have led to their sacking.

        IIRC Profumo, a minister, eventually had to resign as an MP - not because of his affair with Christine Keeler - but because he lied about it in Parliament.

        In the past a minister would resign his position on the slightest whiff of a scandal to avoid embarrassing the government. Home Secretary Reginald Maudling did that over the "T Dan Smith/Poulson" corruption scandal.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          A minister who lied to parliament get sacked?

          The bloody place'd be empty before the weeks out if that was the case.

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: The issue I have with this

        However, as the police has noted many times around this story - this was LEGAL pornography

        To be exact, the copper who kept copies insists it was all legal porn.

        As Mandy Rice-Davies remarked "He would, wouldn't he?"

        1. micheal

          Re: The issue I have with this

          However, as the police has noted many times around this story - this was LEGAL pornography

          To be exact, the copper who kept copies insists it was all legal porn.

          As Mandy Rice-Davies remarked "He would, wouldn't he?"

          So if it's not OK for the MP to have it, how OK is it for the copper (ex) to peruse, keep and then classify as "legal" then?

          1. DamnedIfIKnow

            Re: The issue I have with this

            Simple. It's illegal for him to have kept private copies of stuff when he was a copper, and doubly so now.

            He has openly admitted committing a criminal offence - obviously because he thinks nothing will happen to him. He should be facing prison for this.

            Sadly, he's probably right.

        2. AdamWill

          Re: The issue I have with this

          That, also, I'm not sure the article author entirely thought through his own timeline. If the alleged images date from before the law against "extreme pornography" (which is a crap law, but anyway), couldn't the officer potentially be describing them as "legal" on the grounds that they do meet the "extreme pornography" definition, but that wasn't illegal *at the time*?

          This whole thing feels like a hell of a storm in a teacup, to me, to be honest. Is anyone really that bothered if the guy actually did look at some porn at work, assuming there was nothing else to the story? Big freakin' whoop. I can even honestly forgive him lying about it, because what else do you do? Admit it and be faced with a giant and massively hypocritical "scandal"? *Everyone* lies about looking at porn.

          1. gotes

            Re: The issue I have with this

            I haven't actually looked into the detail of this story, because after reading the headlines it seemed to me this was a case of "man looks at pornography on work computer", which although pretty stupid and no doubt a violation of AUP, isn't a crime, and in my opinion doesn't make him a filthy perv. I'd be more concerned if he had been responding to phishing e-mails.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The issue I have with this

              To me being so desperate to need to look at porn while at work is indeed the sign of a filthy perv. Do what you like on your own time. At work he is paid by the tax payer to manage the country, not manage to type one handed.

            2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

              Re: The issue I have with this

              Given only thumbnails were found could it not be the result of a malicious redirect? Browsers are pretty good at blocking redirects on their own now but 10 years ago it was much more common. Browsers are very good at blocking redirects with <insert blocker of choice> installed but would an MP have that?

        3. JohnG Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          "To be exact, the copper who kept copies insists it was all legal porn."

          There is a slight problem with chain of custody of which, one would have thought, a former policeman who specialised in forensic IT should be aware. How do we know the policeman or someone else has not introduced porn to the illegally retained copies?

          According to a police report into the operation, the government had been embarrassed by the information leaks and had mentioned the leaking of secret documents when they called in the police. By the time the police were conducting searches and arresting people, they knew that no classified material was involved but their search and arrest warrants stated otherwise. The police report described numerous other problems with the investigation, that was probably why the CPS decided that convictions were highly unlikely and dropped the whole thing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The issue I have with this

        Well I suppose if it were an entirely different situation where an MP had instead commited rape or paedophilia but the police took the decision not to charge that VIP, then if a whistleblower who was a former policemen involved in the investigation were to subsequently reveal findings then that ex-policeman would quite rightly go to jail for defaming a hard working blamless Representative of the People, who like the rest of their colleagues, had never been charged let alone found guilty of such an offence.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The issue I have with this

        The AUP is set by parliament if there is one. An MP is a member of parliament, not parliament, and therefore is not sovereign and can be bound by a code of conduct. Even if they can't be fired from their role as MP they can be kicked out of their party, the problem there is lack of will, not capability.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "the problem there is lack of will"

          No, I think the problem is one of self-regulation and perpetual indulgences.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          "An MP is a member of parliament, not parliament"

          An MP nevertheless has Parliamentary privilege and that's quite right; if it were possible for an MP to be hounded by government and/or police we'd be well on the way to being a police state. Bearing that in mind, the real issue here is that his computer was seized by the police when he was a shadow minister with the complicity of the Sergeant at Arms.

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          MPS are not-unsackable. They can be expelled if sentence to more than a year in prison. Representation of the People Act 1981.

      5. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: The issue I have with this

        "THE PARLIAMENT IS SOVEREIGN AND SHALL NOT BE BOUND."

        Unless it is by Miss Whiplash and the fee of £1000 has been paid in advance.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "THE PARLIAMENT IS SOVEREIGN AND SHALL NOT BE BOUND."

          Unfortunately the Coup of 1688 replaced One Monarch Above The Law with 650 of the buggers.

          1. graeme leggett Silver badge

            Re: "THE PARLIAMENT IS SOVEREIGN AND SHALL NOT BE BOUND."

            Monarchs as gods appointed and the limits of personal rule was decided when they took Charles I head off in 1649 and confirmed with restoration at end of Commonwealth in 1660 when parliament decided to have a king again.

      6. macjules Silver badge

        Re: The issue I have with this

        He can (in theory) be prosecuted.

        Not in theory. A sitting MP can be arrested and jailed. John Stonehouse is an example of that.

        1. Blotto

          Re: The issue I have with this

          Or more recently Chris Huhne, who’s wife was also jailed after she took his speeding points and lied about it.

      7. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The issue I have with this

        You have completely misunderstood what is meant by "parliament cannot be bound". It doesn't mean that MPs can do what they want individually; it means that any act of parliament can be undone by a later parliament.

        MPs are just as subject to the law as the rest of us, with the exception of being immune to defamation charges for things they say within the house. You will recall that Chris Huhne was an MP when he was arrested, charged and brought to trial.

      8. rh587

        Re: The issue I have with this

        So even if there was an AUP applicable to parliamentary computer assets (surprise, surprise, there is not), it cannot be applied. Catch 22.

        You, me, the proles will be fired. An MP - not a chance. Because - he actually cannot be fired. He can (in theory) be prosecuted. However, as the police has noted many times around this story - this was LEGAL pornography. Straight one too. So no grounds to do that either.

        Yes... and no.

        Indeed you cannot fire an MP - that is a job for their constituents at the next GE.

        However, a Party who considers that the MP has brought them into disrepute can of course take a plethora of action, including:

        1. Removal from (Shadow) Cabinet or Ministerial Posts and relegation back to the back benches

        2. Suspension from the Party/Withdrawal of the Whip

        3. Expulsion from the Party and deselection at the next GE.

        Moreover, if you DO have an AUP, breaches would make it possible to withdraw ICT privileges for the MP or reclaim their issued IT equipment. They are entitled to sit in Parliament, but their privileges on the IT infrastructure could be restricted consummate with the level of threat they pose to the network's integrity.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          "if you DO have an AUP, breaches would make it possible to withdraw ICT privileges for the MP"

          Firstly, there is an AUP, but actually enforcing it against an MP would probably need an act of parliament - and "withdrawing ICT privileges" would amount to restraint of trade in their self-employed position, given that _everything_ required ICT access these days.

      9. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: The issue I have with this

        "Because - he actually cannot be fired."

        He can - by his constituents.

        But not by someone in Westminster.

    2. Tam Lin

      Re: The issue I have with this

      is that this was done on a work PC on a work network.

      Not an issue.

      Let me remind you that neither he nor David Davis works for the UK government or the UK citizens.

      If the foreign government(s) that he works for cares, then those governments should apply discipline.

    3. ThaumaTechnician

      Re: The issue I have with this

      Came here to say the same thing - I carry my personal laptop with me when I travel for longer than overnight so that I don't have to use the work laptop for personal stuff. Are the MPs so poor that they can't afford a 2nd laptop?

      1. gotes

        @ThaumaTechnician

        Perhaps your comment was in jest, but it's far more likely that rather than being poor, they're simply not aware that it's a fairly trivial matter to find out what they've been up to with their web browser.

        Also if travelling one would probably rather pack some clothes instead of another laptop to watch porn, pirated movies and whatnot.

        A smartphone and MHL adaptor should be all you need to watch, your erm, "personal media files" on the hotel room TV.

      2. Paul

        Re: The issue I have with this

        Get a second hard drive for your work laptop so you don't use the corporate OS image for your personal internet activities.

      3. AJC

        Re: The issue I have with this

        Perhaps not the best example of an MP but Denis MacShane charged eight laptop computers to his Parliamentary expenses in three years and a further one a month after the police investigation started!

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: The issue I have with this

          "eight laptop computers to his Parliamentary expenses in three years "

          Did he keep driving off with one on the roof, which them mysteriously found its way under the wheels?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The issue I have with this

      Is that this was done on a work PC on a work network.

      This is not private viewing at home. Anyone doing anything like this at work would be summarily fired.

      Not if they're self-employed - which is a far closer equivalent to the position of an MP than is being a paid employee.

      MP's are elected to represent their constituencies; nothing more. They may have particular roles they're asked to fill by their parties, who may wish to have a say in things, but in the final analysis it's utterly and completely up to them to decide what their job actually consists of, when and where they do it, and how they spend their time. If the people they represent dislike the representation they get - that's what elections are for. I don't condone Green's likely choice of places, equipment and times to access pornography, but nor do I condemn. He has been re-elected multiple times, so one has to presume that his constituents, overall, have not actively disapproved of the job he has done.

      The real issues here are not what Green may or may not have done a decade ago, but (a) that an ex-policeman has retained information about something he admits to have been perfectly legal - presumably only because of its prurient nature and ability to cause political embarrassment - in direct breach of instructions and legislation; (b) that having done so, he has now chosen to release it to the national media; and (c) that the media, rather than sending him off with a flea in his ear, has chosen to give him the publicity that he clearly sought.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Avenue Q

    Mandatory Avenue Q quote:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6eFNRKEROw

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue I have with this

    Is that this was not done on a home or private PC. This was done on a work PC and was accessed using a work network.

    The work network is also paid for by us taxpayers...

    If anyone tried this in their workplace they'd be fired.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The issue I have with this

      If anyone tried this in their workplace they'd be fired."

      That's true. On the other hand, the only reason we know this about him is because some cops blagged their way into Parliament without a warrant and conducted an illegal search.

      Also worth noting that the only evidence is a ten year old copy held illegally by a computer forensics expert. That mean no proper chain of evidence and data held by someone with a grudge who likely has the skills to "adjust" said evidence. That's what I'd be saying in court if it was me :-)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The issue I have with this

      "If anyone tried this in their workplace they'd be fired."

      Think about this a little more carefully. What's the workplace and who was the user?

      Now imagine that for whatever reason you had some sensitive personal issue that you needed to take up with your MP. Would you then be happy to learn that the Met had barged into your MP's office, seized his PC and taken it away to be examined?

      Now do you see that an MP's office isn't like the average workplace?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liar liar pants on fire!

    Probably find once the forensic image of the computer surfaces, and shows Green's porn sessions interlaced with checking and sending work and personal emails and reading documents (as the police computer forensics expert who examined his computer claims) he's going to be saying he didn't 'download and look at' porn, but 'streamed and listened to it' instead. Or smoked but never inhaled, by browsing the preview clips only.

    Pst. How can you tell when a politician is lying?

    1. malle-herbert Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Pst. How can you tell when a politician is lying?

      He's opening his mouth ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Liar liar pants on fire!

      @ Pst. How can you tell when a politician is lying?

      Same way you can tell a copper's lying. Their lips move.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: Liar liar pants on fire!

        http://www.samueljohnson.com/argument.html#982

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: What Proof It Was Him ???

      The ex-plod concerned admits he cannot prove who the individual was, just that the timings make it look a lot like the MP (now how does he deduce that?).

      But one has to ask, if the user was doing nothing illegal, why was Mr Plod so avidly recording all the pr0n surfing and keeping it long after he left Her Majesty's service? "Just so he could trawl it for timestamps, m'lud" does not wash.

      I don't give a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut what legal pastimes our MPs enjoy, but I am deeply concerned if plods, ex or otherwise, take their work home and use it to manipulate national politics.

      1. Dr Scrum Master
        Pint

        Re: What Proof It Was Him ???

        I don't give a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut what legal pastimes our MPs enjoy, but I am deeply concerned if plods, ex or otherwise, take their work home and use it to manipulate national politics.

        Sir, I salute you.

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