LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she knew nothing of allegations of inappropriate behavior by her most senior minister, forced to resign this week, until she read about them in a newspaper.
Damian Green, 61, has been accused of making a sexual advance towards academic Kate Maltby, the daughter of a family friend, in 2015, suggesting it might further her career.
May forced Green, one of her closest political allies, to resign on Wednesday night because of a separate scandal - lying about whether he knew pornography had been found on computers in his parliamentary office.
An internal investigation requested by May and conducted by a senior government official said on Wednesday it was not possible to reach a definitive conclusion on Maltby’s allegations but said it found them plausible.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph published on Friday, Maltby said she had told an aide in May’s Downing Street office about Green’s advances in 2016.
However May said she had not been aware of the accusations about Green until they became public last month when Maltby wrote about them.
“I first learnt of these allegations when Kate Maltby wrote about them in the Times,” May said in a television interview while visiting a British air base in Cyprus on Friday.
“I recognize that Kate Maltby was obviously extremely distressed by what had happened. Damian Green has recognised that, he said that in the letter that he wrote to me, and he has apologized. And I think that’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
Green quit after the review said he had made inaccurate statements following reports last month in the Sunday Times newspaper that police had found pornography on his office computers in the Houses of Parliament in 2008.
He said he had not downloaded or viewed the pornography, but admitted making misleading statements.
Two former police officers who publicly disclosed details about Green’s computers are themselves facing investigation over whether they breached data protection laws. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said their actions had “the slight feeling of a vendetta”.
Green was appointed first secretary of state six months ago in a bid to shore up May’s premiership following her disastrous June snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, and is the third cabinet minister to quit in less than two months.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Paul Sandle; editing by Andrew Roche