The row over Damian Green’s sacking erupted again last night after leaked messages sent by the woman who accused him of misconduct showed that she was sending him friendly texts just weeks before pulling the trigger on his career.
Kate Maltby’s claim that she had felt ‘angry’ and ‘professionally compromised’ after Mr Green touched her knee in a bar led to a Cabinet Office inquiry into the Minister, which widened into claims that he had downloaded pornography on his Commons computer.
He was fired by Mrs May last week after the inquiry concluded that he had made misleading remarks about whether he knew about the pornography allegations. It did not come to a conclusion about his behaviour towards Ms Maltby, 31.
Damien Green was sacked by prime minister Theresa May over misleading remarks about pornography on his Parliamentary computer
The Mail on Sunday can now reveal that shortly before going public with her claims in October, Ms Maltby had sent warm messages to Mr Green – including one late at night which she signed off with an ‘x’.
The disclosure comes as a Tory MP launches an outspoken attack on his party today for ‘throwing him to the wolves’ during the Westminster sex harassment scandal.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, who had the whip suspended seven weeks ago over unspecified ‘serious allegations’, writes today that he has still not been told who his accuser is – or what the allegations are.
He blames Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith – who referred the claims to the police – for the torrent of abuse he has received on social media, which has taken a ‘heavy toll’ on him.
Ms Maltby sent warm messages to Mr Green before going public with an accusation he touched her knee in a bar
The Green saga started two months ago when Ms Maltby claimed in a newspaper article that when she met Mr Green for a drink in a bar in Waterloo in early 2015, she had felt a ‘fleeting hand against my knee’.
Her ‘embarrassment’ was compounded a year later when he sent her a message inviting her for a drink after seeing a picture of her wearing a corset in a newspaper article.
According to messages studied by the Cabinet Office inquiry, in February this year Ms Maltby emailed Mr Green to say she would ‘wager a good few bottles’ that he was an unnamed Minister who had been the source of a political story.
After Mr Green responds to say that he never reveals sources, Ms Maltby wrote: ‘Ha! Hope to catch up when things calm down.’ Mr Green says: ‘They never do, so let’s fix a date soon!’ Ms Maltby replies: ‘You’re the one with a ministerial schedule. Send me an email – or get a minion to do it!’
When Mr Green says: ‘Will do – myself or via minion’, she concludes: ‘Great. Night night’.
The exchange came five months after Ms Maltby says she warned one of Mrs May’s No 10 aides about Mr Green’s behaviour.
The leaked messages also show that on July 13 this year, a month after Mr Green had become Mrs May’s deputy, Ms Maltby texted him at 11pm after she had attended The Spectator magazine’s champagne-fuelled summer party in Westminster to say: ‘Sorry not to see you at the Speccie party. [Names a Green official] was smooching the room on your behalf x’. Mr Green replies: ‘That’s what he’s paid for!’
A week later, Ms Maltby responds to the news that Mr Green had been appointed to sit on 19 different Cabinet committees by writing: ‘Deeply disappointed to see there are two Cabinet committees you don’t have a seat on. Lax, Mr Green!’
On Wednesday, October 4 – just three weeks before making her devastating claims – she sent a message to Mr Green to wish him luck on the BBC’s Question Time ‘tonight’.
When Mr Green corrects her to say it is being filmed on the Thursday, she writes: ‘Speaking of time travel, I recently found the old school magazines. Hope this cheers you up.’ Ms Maltby is referring to the fact that when she was 16, she interviewed Mr Green for her school magazine.
Ms Maltby was asked to go for a drink with Mr Green after he saw a picture of her wearing a corset
The Cabinet Office concluded that while Ms Maltby was a ‘plausible’ witness, the ‘competing and contradictory accounts’ of the meetings between Mr Green and Ms Maltby meant it was not possible ‘to reach a definitive conclusion on the appropriateness of Mr Green’s behaviour’.
In his resignation statement, Mr Green said that while he deeply regretted ‘the distress caused to Kate Maltby following her article about me’, he did not ‘recognise the events she described in her article’. He added: ‘I clearly made her feel uncomfortable and for this I apologise.’
Government insiders say Mr Green would not have lost his job if he hadn’t breached the ministerial code by making misleading statements about what he knew about police claims that pornography had been found on his office computer.
On Friday, Mrs May denied she had been alerted to any claims about Mr Green’s behaviour before Ms Maltby wrote her article in October.
It comes as friends of Brexit Secretary David Davis say he did ‘everything he could’ to save Mr Green, including setting up a ‘war room’ in his office to rebut claims made by former Scotland Yard officers about pornography being found on his computer.
Mr Davis also lobbied the Prime Minister personally to not ‘give his head to the police on a plate’ – but had to admit defeat when it emerged that Mr Green had made misleading statements about his knowledge of the police claims.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said he did everything he could to save Mr Green, including setting up a ‘war room’ to rebut claims facing him
In his powerful article, Mr Elphicke says that – unlike Mr Green – his fate is being left in limbo. ‘Damian Green was informed of the allegations against him and afforded the courtesy of a full inquiry by the Cabinet Office,’ he writes.
‘In my case, it’s now more than seven weeks since I was accused of unspecified allegations.
‘To this day I have not been interviewed by the police and they have not told me what I am accused of or who my accuser is.
‘Just after 9pm at night on Friday, November 3, I was relaxing at home with my family. The phone rang and it was a journalist saying he’d heard I was having the party whip removed – did I want to make a comment?
‘My wife and I spent that weekend wondering whether I would be arrested at any moment. The knock never came. And has not to this day. Seven weeks on.
‘Throwing a public figure out to the wolves has grave consequences… Meanwhile, on social media, anonymous accounts spew vitriol that Twitter refuses to take down. After all, why not when the Chief Whip – who has never been my biggest fan – has declared open season?’
Mr Green follows Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel in being bundled out of the Cabinet in the past two months.
While Mr Green has been close to Mrs May since university, both Sir Michael and Ms Patel have the potential to cause trouble for the Prime Minister.
Damian Green was fired by Theresa May last week and has been accused of being a sex pest by Ms Maltby
Friends of Sir Michael blame his successor as Defence Secretary, former Chief Whip Gavin Williamson, of having helped to engineer his departure by ‘whispering in the ear’ of Mrs May and using the harassment scandal as a device to prise him out.
Sir Michael was forced out over claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women – including a ‘lunge’ at a journalist and ‘lewd’ remarks towards fellow Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom.
One friend said: ‘He has been cast into darkness by Mrs May’s Downing Street, after complaining that he would get up at the crack of dawn to do the media rounds whenever there was a crisis.’ Last night, Sir Michael said: ‘I wish Gavin well.’
Ms Patel, who lost her job as International Development Secretary seven days later after it was revealed that she had held meetings in Israel without telling the Government, is also regarded as being ‘on leadership manoeuvres’ by No 10 – who fear that she could team up with Environment Secretary Michael Gove to form a ‘dream ticket’ leadership partnership if the May Premiership falters.
Since leaving her job, Ms Patel has taken aim at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – another leadership contender – over the turf war between the Foreign Office and her old department, complaining to friends that she no longer thinks her and Mr Johnson are ‘on the same side’.
Last night, Ms Maltby said: ‘It has never been a secret that I had a friendly relationship with Damian Green for some time before I cut off contact, and that I resumed contact with him by text after he joined the Cabinet.
‘I felt it was professionally necessary – and I gave the Cabinet inquiry multiple saved communications proving that I had asked the advice of several more experienced female journalists before doing so.
‘It is my clear understanding from the Cabinet Office that direct evidence as to his behaviour in this regard has already formed the background to the Prime Minister’s decision to sack him. Your story reflects much more on him than it does on me.’
Mr Green declined to comment tonight.
The PM’s enforcer has thrown me to the wolves, by Tory MP CHARLIE ELPHICKE
It’s more than seven weeks since Charlie Elphicke was accused of unspecific allegations
Christmas should be a time of celebration – yet this year, for me and my family, it will be a more sombre occasion. Damian Green was informed of the allegations against him and afforded the courtesy of a full inquiry by the Cabinet Office.
In my case, it’s now more than seven weeks since I was accused of unspecified allegations.
To this day, I have not been interviewed by the police, nor have they told me what I am accused of or who my accuser is.
Just after 9pm on Friday, November 3, I was relaxing at home with my family. The phone rang; it was a journalist saying he had heard I was having the party whip removed. Did I want to make a comment?
Many minutes later, I spoke to the new Conservative Chief Whip Julian Smith who told me of ‘serious allegations’ that had been referred to the police. I asked what they were and he would not tell me. He would only say that I was having the Conservative whip suspended.
My wife and I spent that weekend wondering whether I would be arrested at any moment. The knock never came. And has not to this day. Seven weeks on.
In the meantime, the press pack descended on our home; neighbours watched horrified as our bins were checked out; the local pubs were full of press asking for the inside track on their MP for the price of a drink.
Work colleagues and friends of the family have been subject to unwanted intrusion. Throwing a public figure out to the wolves has grave consequences. Yet the support of friends, my community in Dover & Deal and parliamentary colleagues has been incredible.
Meanwhile on social media, anonymous accounts spew vitriol that Twitter refuses to take down. After all, why not when the Chief Whip – who has never been my biggest fan – has declared open season?
In the febrile atmosphere that grips our country from time to time, we must never rush to judgment. We must always remember it is a cornerstone of our constitution that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Proper procedures should always be followed.
Whatever allegations may be put to me, I deny any criminal wrongdoing.
However I cannot deny that the pressure of these events has taken a heavy toll on me and my family and cast a long shadow this Christmas.