More on Damian Green and the bent ex-copper

Giolla Decair makes a good point regarding the porn supposedly found on Damian Green’s laptop:

As they were thumbnails that’s almost certainly in the browser cache ( who the hell deliberately saves thumbnails). So based on thumbnails no evidence that any porn was actually watched just that some porn sites were browsed and the thumbnails cached, given modern browsers sometimes pre-fetch pages it might not even have been that many pages/sites browsed. Again given it’s thumbnails a typical page could easily have 100 thumbnail images so if there’s pre-fetching going on you could be talking about having browsed just a handful of pages without having fetched a single thing.

This is worth keeping in mind when listening to the arguments from some people that surfing porn while at work is a sackable offence and because this guy is an MP and works for us, it’s in the public interest and he should be fired. Leaving aside the fact that it is not the job of ex-policemen to act as any employer’s HR department particularly ten years after the event and having retired, it’s not clear-cut this will be a sackable offence.

Firstly, having evidence of visiting porn sites on your company laptop does not mean you were surfing porn at work. I suspect most people in this situation were away on business without a personal laptop and used their work machine to visit dodgy sites back at the hotel at night. Unless the timestamp on the files can be matched to Green’s working hours, the offence is more one of using a company laptop for visiting prohibited websites. This already puts us in a grey area insofar as HR is concerned.

What websites are prohibited? Anything not work related? Okay, so how many people have been fired for visiting Amazon on a work laptop? Visiting anything deemed to be pornographic or with “adult content”? How is that defined, exactly? I suspect these matters are decided on a case-by-case basis and if HR get wind of anything untoward they haul the employee in and ask them for an explanation before telling them to pack it in. If they’re going to be fired, the number of sites visited, the visit duration, the regularity of the visits, and the content of the pictures will all form part of HR’s decision over what action to take. If there are a dozen thumbnails that the browser cache stored when the user inadvertently opened a site he probably shouldn’t have, he’s probably going to be sent on an IT awareness course rather than being fired. Even if he’s looked at porn, they’ll have to show it happened during work hours if they want to fire him for anything other than a breach of the IT protocols.

The fact is we know nothing about the files Damian Green allegedly had on his laptop, and it is simply untrue to say that any such pictures would immediately result in dismissal from a regular job. This is a hatchet-job, and Theresa May needs to make it her personal mission to destroy the life of this ex-copper who is attempting to bring down senior members of her government. If she doesn’t, this sort of thing is going to become the norm; I’d rather see a bent ex-policeman doing a fifteen year stretch than have the entire political system further undermined. However they go about it, they need to make an example of him.

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21 thoughts on “More on Damian Green and the bent ex-copper

  1. If they’re going to be fired, I suspect HR have made that decision prior to and independently of the outcome of cross-examining the fireee.

  2. BiG,

    Probably, yes. But HR need to tread carefully too, and a competent department (oxymoron I know) would at least get the facts one way or another before firing the guy, and that would involve looking at the offending browser history.

  3. In the one case where I was one of the people who had to evaluate firing someone for porn on the job, it was pretty obvious. We’re not talking a thousand thumbnails of unknown date of download, we’re talking a good 50% of the hard disk (which seeing as it was a few years ago means tens of gigbytes) of porn AND the fact that the person in question was clearly (we monitored his network activity) doing nothing but download porn for hours during the work day. To be honest I’m not sure what the point of it was, he couldn’t have had time to view it all and he wasn’t wanking the entire time.

    Either way we fired him not so much for the porn per se as the waste of company resources (bandwidth etc.) and not doing his job. Those were slam dunk HR violations (and the not doing job one was one he had been written up for before).

  4. but the overriding thing in all of this is that it’s none of this copper’s business.

    We really need a few more conditions around ex-coppers. There’s been a number of historic cases where they’ve quit to avoid prosecution, and this adds to it. I’d load some conditions onto pensions. If you’re found to be in dereliction of duty after you leave, or act on information after you leave, you are subject to losing some or all of your pension.

  5. Of the many terminations that I have been involved in, porn has had nothing to do with any of them.

    Isn’t its more like something you get with at school.

  6. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought browser prefetching was a function of HTML5 which only began in 2011 and thus wasn’t on Green’s computer.
    Of course this doesn’t distract from the main point that the police need a kick in the nuts and Ms Rudd should be publicly piling pressure for the actions of the rogue coppers AND their allies to be examined in detail, and where possible charges brought. That she and May have been silent shows what a shower this lot are, more HR bots than leaders.

  7. You might be thinking of local storage, which is part of HTML5. Browser pre-fetching has been knocking around for quite a while before that.

  8. Surely, the issue is whether Green has lied.

    However, since it can’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt that Green had looked at legal pornographic images on a computer in his office — there being too many alternative explanations, particularly nearly a decade later — it can’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt that he has lied. End of.

    May knows very well that many in the police have it in for her, Green and the Tory Party. My fear is that she might be swayed by irrelevant and extraneous concerns. She is a Tory matron, which is a very recognisable type. The Tory matron is admirable for her patriotism – along with her usual commitment to the CofE, the Monarchy, the Armed Forces, certain charities and good manners. If said Tory matron is involved in a business, she usually gets economic and tax policy. However, Tory matrons are illiberal on many social issues — they invariably find “porn” disgusting, and I can almost hear their mutters of “disgusting little man” about Green – the thumbnails will have damned him in their eyes.

  9. It’s not like the media or the left are ever going to like her so May should crush these corrupt officers any way she can….public can’t stand them so win win?

  10. As lawyers say, if the law is on your side, play the law, if the facts are on your side, play the facts. If neither are on your side, play the man.

    I get the distinct impression they are “playing the man” here to neutralise him and prevent him doing whatever it is that ‘they” don’t like.

    As an aside, until I changed my e-mail address, I kept getting “Sexy Sue is only 16 and waiting for your call on 0898 123456” type spam with embedded images. No doubt Windoze would cache the thumbnails etc. and if this was picked up by the Police, then no doubt I would be prosecuted for child porn IF THEY WANTED TO DO SO.

    Me? If the porn was legal, then it was legal and the Police should butt out.

  11. @Phil B

    I’ve heard of people in such cases desperately trying to identify the models in the pictures so that they could track down their USC 2257 release forms. The “twink case” is quite famous in the UK but I have heard equivalent stories with straight pornography (including, by my recollection, one tale in which the accused had to track the performer down on Twitter to ask her for her proof of age – perhaps I’m misremembering though since I can’t seem to find it on google).

  12. MyBurningEars
    I’m pretty sure they closed that “loophole”. The person only has to appear to be underage for it to be child pornography.

    Comming back to the copper, what happened to those coppers on the gate who lied and got the party chairman sacked? Nothing, I expect.

  13. “I’m pretty sure they closed that “loophole”. The person only has to appear to be underage for it to be child pornography.

    What does this mean… what does a child look like?

    As for porn, when I worked at a U.K. university I set up a computer network for our Lab and I set it up to store the browser history, after the first month I checked it, and it was full of ‘extreme’ porn. Called the professor, but as it was all being watched on a Saturday, so the culprit was not given a warning, and I set the local network to automatically delete the browsing history every Monday.

  14. @TJ – look up Pia Zadora on wikipedia and pictures. She is an American actress that looked about 15 during her career and even now still could pass for a young person. Not bad for someone who is 64. If she decided to do porn during her 30’s, for example, because she LOOKED under age, then the law (particularly in the USA) would treat anyone viewing the material as a paedophile.

    Nowadays “granny fanny” is popular to avoid any such confusion and/or mistakes. If that lights your candle, that is …

  15. Why can’t these places just block access to porn?

    Secondly, why do people download it? That’s about as subtle as keeping the body in your trunk.

  16. Has it been proved that it was Green’s laptop, used exclusively by him alone, rather than just a laptop in his office? Anyway, that’s irrelevant. Surely, the real problem here is that a retired cop had retained the information? That is the culpable part.

  17. Slight misunderstanding about this child porn issue:

    The prosecution must proffer evidence (pictures, etc.) that shows a participant who appears to be a minor. Meaning, a judge or jury can look at a picture and decide, yep, that’s a minor, and that’s enough to satisfy the element of the crime that requires a minor.

    The defendant can always disprove this by proving a participant was not a minor when the picture was taken. Even if a participant looks minor-ish, proof of adulthood is still a good defense.

    The confusion surrounds the burden of proof. Usually in a criminal case, the state must prove each and every element of a crime. So, in child porn cases, defendants have argued that the state must present documentary proof that a supposed minor participant actually was a minor – that a child-like picture isn’t enough in a close case.

    But the nature of the crime makes it rather impossible for the state to even find most minor participants, so the normal burden of proof was relaxed in most jurisdictions.

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  19. Sensible people in the west today have all done three things:

    1) They have been tempted to look at pron on computers because it is free and although pointless, briefly offers a distraction;

    2) The same people occasionally have such a rush of altruistic thoughts they use their vote, however intermittently, to put a cross next to the socialist candidate who promises a better, loving world;

    3) The strenuously deny having done the first two at any time

  20. The reason May won’t do anything about the ex-Policeman is simple. If she does, then it will look like the establishment protecting one of their own. Certainly that’s the narrative that the BBC, Guardian et al will push.

  21. In the UK and the UK, and elsewhere, we really do need stronger punishments for abuse of office by public officials. Clinton being a case in point, this policeman another. But it hardly ever gets worse than a slap on the wrist.

    I would argue that there should also be a punishment for reckless and unconstitutional actions (setting aside the fact that the UK does not have a single written constitutional document). Blair, Obama and Cameron would all be in prison if this was the case.

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