Damian Green

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The Right Honourable
Damian Green
MP
Damian Green - immigration minister.jpg
Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice
In office
4 September 2012 – 14 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Nick Herbert
Succeeded by Mike Penning
Minister of State for Immigration
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Phil Woolas
Succeeded by Mark Harper
Member of Parliament
for Ashford
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Keith Speed
Majority 17,297 (31.3%)
Personal details
Born Damian Howard Green
(1956-01-17) 17 January 1956 (age 58)
Barry, Glamorgan, Wales
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Alicia Collinson
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website www.damiangreenmp.org.uk

Damian Howard Green (born 17 January 1956) is a British politician who has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Ashford since 1997. He came to national prominence in November 2008 after being arrested and having his parliamentary office raided by police.[1] Before standing for Parliament, Green was Channel 4's business editor.[2] He was the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice until 14 July 2014.

Early life[edit]

Damian Green was born in Barry, Wales. He grew up in Reading, Berkshire and was educated at Reading School and then at Balliol College, Oxford where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1977, followed by a master's degree. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1977 and was the vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students (now known as Conservative Future) from 1980 until 1982.

Career[edit]

In 1978 he was appointed by BBC Radio as a financial journalist, before joining Channel 4 News as a business producer in 1982. He joined The Times for a year in 1984 as the business news editor before returning to television journalism and Channel 4 as the business editor in 1985. He became the City editor and also a television presenter on Channel 4's Business Daily television programme in 1987 until he left television to join Prime Minister John Major's Policy Unit in 1992. Green had acted as an occasional speechwriter for Major since 1988. He left 10 Downing Street in 1994 to run his own public affairs consultancy.

Political career[edit]

He stood against Labour's Ken Livingstone in Brent East at the 1992 General Election, but lost by 5,971 votes. He was elected to the House of Commons for the Kent seat of Ashford at the 1997 General Election following the retirement of Tory MP Keith Speed. Green held the seat with a majority of 5,345 and has remained the constituency's MP. He made his maiden speech on 20 May 1997.[3]

While a backbencher, he was a member of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee from 1997 until his appointment to the frontbench by William Hague in 1998 as a spokesman on education and employment. He spoke on the environment from 1999 and was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet by Iain Duncan Smith in 2001 as the Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills. In 2003, Michael Howard gave him the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. In September 2004, he left the frontbench altogether of his own accord[4] and joined the home affairs select committee, and was a member of the treasury committee after the 2005 General Election. He returned to the frontbench under the leadership of David Cameron in 2005 as a spokesman on home affairs and shadow minister for immigration.

Green is Chairman of Parliamentary Mainstream, a vice president of the Tory Reform Group and is a vice chairman of the John Smith Memorial Trust.[5]

2008 arrest[edit]

Green was arrested by the Metropolitan Police at his constituency home on 27 November 2008 on suspicion of "aiding and abetting misconduct in public office" and "conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office",[1][6] in relation to an investigation into unauthorised disclosure of confidential material from within the Home Office. The material disclosed was claimed by the Daily Mail to have 'severely embarrassed' the Government by highlighting failures over immigration and other matters.[7] The police investigation was initiated by the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, David Normington. It was reported that the arrest took place without the knowledge of the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Green was held for nine hours on suspicion of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

Green's constituency and House of Commons offices were searched in addition to his London and Ashford homes, with police removing official documents and bank statements, a computer hard drive and mobile telephone, and searching personal items such as love letters written to his wife some twenty years earlier.[7] Green was later released on bail. In a statement to Parliament on 3 December, Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, responsible for the security of the Palace of Westminster, stated that although the police undertaking the search had neither presented a search warrant nor given "the requisite advice that such a warrant was necessary", the search of the Parliamentary office had been undertaken with the express written consent of the Serjeant at Arms, who had signed a consent form without consulting the Clerk of the House.[8]

The arrest of a senior opposition politician and former journalist on matters connected with that politician's obtaining of confidential information for release to journalists generated much comment, largely from politicians and journalists. Conservative Party leader David Cameron was said to be "angry" over the action of the police. The Conservative Party issued a statement, stating that, while no one should be above the law, Green had "a right" to publish information in the public interest.[citation needed]

Green speaking at a Policy Exchange meeting in 2013

Constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bogdanor of Oxford University told the BBC that the row was a "storm in a teacup", adding that the "important principle is that MPs - apart from when they're speaking in the chamber and dealing with constituents' correspondence - are as subject to the same laws as the rest of us".[9] Geoffrey Robertson QC, a noted human rights author and barrister called the arrest "an affront to democracy" and called on the Speaker to resign if it should prove that he had authorised the police search of Green's office. Robertson also pointed out that much of the debate over the police action had missed the point, observing that police have operational independence, and it would have been wrong for them to have told their plans to the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary.[10]

A junior Home Office civil servant, Christopher Galley admitted leaking four documents to Green.[11] In the 2004 local elections, Galley had stood as a Conservative Party candidate for the Hetton ward of Sunderland City Council and received 676 votes. In mid-2007, Galley had applied to work for Green but was rejected.[12]

The events led to speculation about the apparent coincidence that such a high profile arrest was authorised on the last day in office of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.[13] It was however also reported that there is no legal requirement for any arrest to be authorised by the Commissioner, and that the decision would usually be made by the officer leading the investigation.[citation needed] The investigation and arrest of Green were conducted by the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Branch headed by Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who had been appointed in August 2008 as the most senior anti-terrorism officer in the UK.

The arrest was criticised by political figures including Conservative leader David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and veteran left-wing Labour politician Tony Benn. Prime Minister Gordon Brown made no comment over the arrest other than to say it was a police matter.[7] The director of the UK human rights organisation Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, wrote in The Sunday Times an article highly critical of the arrest and search of Green's offices.[14] The Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, also expressed her concern, and Justice Secretary Jack Straw was said to have been "surprised" by the arrest of which he knew nothing.[15]

Green is reported by Andrew Marr to have believed he was the subject of a bugging operation, which would have required the authorisation of the Home Secretary, who stated that she had not granted any such order.[16] Green's constituency agent subsequently confirmed that a search of Green's two homes, his offices in Bethersden and Westminster, and his car had been commissioned, but that no listening devices were discovered.[17][18]

Green speaking to the media on a trip to Manchester

On 21 December 2008, a row erupted when Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick accused the Conservative Party of trying to undermine his investigation and of endangering the safety of his family by publishing details of his home in the Mail on Sunday: "The Tory machinery and their press friends are mobilised against this investigation. I think it is a very spiteful act, possibly to intimidate me away from investigating Mr. Green, and I feel it has put my family at risk." The Conservative Party stated that it had "played no part whatsoever in the publication of this story",[19] and that "as the officer leading the inquiry into the allegations involving Damian Green, Assistant Commissioner Quick should display objective professionalism and not make baseless, political attacks. He should retract all of his allegations immediately."[20] The following day Quick retracted his statements and apologised: "I have now reflected on the comments I made yesterday at a difficult time for me and my family ... I wish to make clear that it was not my intention to make any allegations and retract my comments. I apologise unreservedly for any offence or embarrassment that I have caused."

On 9 April 2009, Quick resigned his position after inadvertently revealing details of a counter-terrorist raid that was unrelated to the Green affair.[21]

On 16 April 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that it was not going to bring a case against either Green or Galley, the Home Office civil servant who passed data to Green, as there was "insufficient evidence"[22] for either to face charges. This followed the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee criticising Home Office civil servants for prompting the investigation by using "exaggerated" claims about the implications for national security that the leaks held.

On 18 April 2009, Green claimed that arresting officers had searched his computer documents and emails for key words "Shami Chakrabarti", fuelling claims that his arrest had been politically motivated.[23] Following a disciplinary hearing, Galley was sacked from the civil service on 24 April 2009 for "gross professional misconduct".[11] Galley claimed that Green told him: "If you are fired, we will look after you," but that his attempts to find work have been rebuffed. Conservative MPs, Galley averred, "don't want to touch me now that I have done their dirty work."[24]

Personal life[edit]

Damian Green married Alicia Collinson, a barrister, in April 1988 in the City of London. They have two daughters, both born in Hammersmith.[25] He is a season ticket holder at Reading FC.

Publications[edit]

  • ITN Budget Factbook, by Damian Green, 1984, ITN
  • ITN Budget Factbook, by Damian Green, 1985, ITN
  • ITN Budget Factbook, by Damian Green, 1986, ITN
  • Better BBC: Public Service Broadcasting in the '90s, by Damian Green, 1990, Centre for Policy Studies ISBN 1-870265-77-7
  • Freedom of the Airwaves by Damian Green, 1990, CPC ISBN 0-85070-806-0
  • Communities in the Countryside, by Damian Green, 1995. ISBN 1-874097-11-9
  • The Cross Media Revolution: Ownership and Control, Edited by Damian Green, 1995, University of Luton Press ISBN 0-86196-545-0
  • Regulating the Media in the Digital Age, by Damian Green, 1997, European Media Forum
  • 21st Century Conservatism, by Damian Green, 1998
  • The Four Failures of the New Deal, by Damian Green, 1998, Centre for Policy Studies ISBN 1-897969-84-8

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Senior Tory arrested over leaks". BBC News. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  2. ^ Watt, Nicholas (27 November 2008). "One-nation Tory who became known as one of Westminster's top sleuths". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 28 November 2008. 
  3. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (20 May 1997). "House of Commons Hansard Debates". Retrieved 12 January 2009. 
  4. ^ "Green calls for Tory compassion". BBC News. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Damian Green MP official site
  6. ^ Winnett, Robert; Kirkup, James (28 November 2008). "Tory shadow minister Damian Green arrested after obtaining leaked documents". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c Brogan, Benedict; Chapman, James; Wright, Stephen (29 November 2008). "Police state Britain: MPs want protection after arrest of Tory for telling truths Labour didn't want you to know". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "Damian Green raid: Pressure on Speaker Michael Martin to go". The Daily Telegraph, 3 December 2008
  9. ^ "Row over Green 'grooming' claims". BBC News. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  10. ^ Robertson, Geoffrey (1 December 2008). "Mr Green's arrest is an affront to democracy: Michael Martin must go". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  11. ^ a b Summers, Deborah (24 April 2009). "Damian Green leaks civil servant sacked". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Morris, Nigel (1 December 2008). "Arrested MP accused of 'grooming' mole". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Elliot, Francis; Ford, Richard (28 November 2008). "Tory frontbench MP Damian Green arrested over leaks". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  14. ^ Chakrabarti, Shami (30 November 2008). "This arrest of an MP is a threat to us all". Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  15. ^ "Harman concerned at Green affair". Sky News. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  16. ^ "MP's arrest not Stalinist - Smith". BBC News. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  17. ^ "MP hires firm to sweep for bugs". The Metro. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "MP's home swept for 'police bugs'". BBC News. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/dec/21/police-uksecurity", The Guardian, 21 December 2008
  20. ^ "MP arrest officer accuses Tories". BBC News. 21 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  21. ^ "Police chief quits over blunder". BBC News. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  22. ^ "MP Will not be charged". BBC News. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  23. ^ Daily Telegraph article on Galley
  24. ^ Steve Boggan (19 May 2009). "Christopher Galley, the mole in Damian Green case, says: 'Tories dumped me'". The Times (London). Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  25. ^ Marriages and Births England and Wales 1984-2006

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Keith Speed
Member of Parliament for Ashford
1997–present
Incumbent