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There’s a reason we call her ‘Mad Nad’, folks.

Yes, Mid Bedfordshire Tory MP Nadine Dorries has leapt to the defence of Damian Green, by triggering a data protection controversy that could engulf any number of MPs and their office staff as well.

The allegation – as we all know by now, right? – is that First Secretary of State Damian Green, the man in the second-highest political job in the land, who stands accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a lady called Kate Maltby, was found to have been misusing Parliamentary computers by using them to watch porn, as long ago as 2008.

Former police officers have been lining up to publicise evidence that a computer in Mr Green’s office was used to access thousands of pornographic images, saying he must have been the culprit as he was logged in when the images were viewed.

But Ms Dorries leapt into the fray on Saturday evening, pointing out:

Oh, really?

We’ll come back to this, but first, we need to remember that Mr Green has denied viewing porn on the computer in question – to Parliament. If he did, then he knowingly lied to Parliament – an offence that, if proved, should mean his political career is over.

Could it have been someone else in his office team, then? Well…

That’ll be a ‘no’, then. But let’s remember that, in most offices, being the person logged into a computer when it accessed pornography would be an offence for which the punishment would be the sack.

Okay – back to Ms Dorries and her allegation that other people log in to Westminster computers, using MPs’ details “everyday”.

If she’s right, then she has confessed to a major breach of the Data Protection Act – and went on to implicate “all staff”, opening a can of worms that should be disgorging its contents for a considerable amount of time:

Some of us wanted the Information Commissioner to investigate this allegation of serious and widespread data protection abuses:

Others pointed out that most organisations consider it an open-and-shut case that, if a computer is found to have accessed pornography while a particular user was logged in, then that user must be responsible for viewing it and must accept the consequences.

Ms Dorries took issue with this (she is ‘Mad Nad’, after all) – and let herself in for a serial slapdown that bordered on dogpiling.

Apparently Tory MPs like Ms Dorries and Mr Green believe they operate above the law. Interesting, that…

Here comes another useful snippet: Nobody in any MP’s office needs their boss’s full login details to handle emails, as Ms Dorries had claimed. See John O’Shea’s tweet below:

Ah,  but perhaps Parliament doesn’t consider porn viewing during working hours to be as serious a matter as elsewhere? The following suggests not:

Now, some commenters have pointed out that the DWP is just one government department, and the guidelines don’t date back to 2008. Fair enough. But it seems unreasonable to suggest the DWP’s guidelines wouldn’t at least be based on guidelines for all government departments – and it also seems unreasonable to expect those guidelines to have been introduced after computers and the internet were first installed in Parliament/government offices.

What do these revelations mean in the short term? Here are Luke Parks (telling us what the officials will be demanding) and Mark Keogan (explaining that it won’t make a scrap of difference, if Ms Dorries’ claims are accurate):

Meanwhile, other commenters have taken issue with media coverage suggesting that the former police officers brought forward evidence against Mr Green vindictively. Coverage, notably by the BBC, has included interviews with people who suggested that police are disgruntled with the Conservative Party for changes to their pay and conditions that have made it much harder to do their job.

Members of the public disagree vocally:

While the pornography found on the computer wasn’t illegal, and it isn’t illegal to view pornography on an office computer (simply sackable according to the rules of individual organisations, for what should be obvious reasons), Ms Rowe (above) makes the very good point that it’s possible the evidence would have disappeared if the ex-officers in question had gone through official channels. And if he did watch the porn, let’s remember that Mr Green would be guilty of lying to Parliament, and of an offence that would result in the sacking of any office worker. Why should he be exempt from the same treatment?

Yes he is – whether guilty of any of the transgressions alleged about him or not.


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