I'm referring to this article on the Guardian.

I'm wondering because it seems that despite it being a parliament computer, it appears that it was his to use - i.e. not a shared device. I would understand if other people might be exposed to such content without their consent, but it appears not to be the case. Moreover, it's not like he had a 9 to 5 job, or some sort of obligation to work a fixed number of hours, so that watching pornography would effectively reduce that amount.

The paper also mentions that he's under investigation for inappropriate behaviour towards a conservative activist - now this seems to be something serious, the reason being that there is/might be an actual victim (might be because I don't want to draw conclusions before an investigation is over).

The only other reason I can think of is that he stated that he did not view such material. But for some reason I don't feel that this is what people are worried about. Otherwise for example the title of the articled mentioned above would have been something like "Damian Green lied about ..." rather than what it is.

So my question is: why is it a big deal if a government minister watched pornographic material on their device?

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    Is it a big deal? Simon Jenkins, a columnist also for The Guardian: If Damian Green looked at porn at work, that’s not a police matter
    – chirlu
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 14:24
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    I don't know, the article in the question mentions that people are calling for him to resign over this. In this sense I think it is a "big deal". I would be very surprised if someone deemed it police matter.
    – John Donne
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 14:39
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    @Miller86 That's a good point. I don't know anything about this. I can understand the argument "most people would be terminated because of this so he should too", but at the same time I don't feel the comparison applies; why is pornography different from wasting time on facebook?
    – John Donne
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 16:30
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    @JohnDonne - I think it would depend on the workplace with Facebook but be pretty universal with porn. Not sure though.
    – Miller86
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 16:52
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    @JohnDonne - Everything here points to political posturing more than anything else...the fact these events occurred in 2008 and are being brought to light almost 10 years later when he's in a senior position points towards this as being politically motivated. Your line - " I can understand the argument "most people would be terminated because of this so he should too"" I can't agree with because the line really should read "most people would be terminated because of something (not-illegal) that was done 10 years ago and he should too" and I believe that is false.
    – Twelfth
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


There are several issues:

  1. Damien Green has also been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a Conservative activist. He has denied this. The presence of pornography is evidence of a poor attitude towards women and is character evidence against him; it points to a "pattern of behaviour".

  2. In many workplaces, pornography is routinely banned. If a teacher was found to be accessing pornography while at work they are likely to be sacked and banned from teaching. If these are the standards we have of professional people why should they not apply to ministers?

  3. Damien Green has strongly denied viewing pornography at work. If he had been watching pornography then he is lying. His honesty is being questioned.

  4. Even if legal, many people find pornography distasteful. For those who dislike all pornography on moral grounds, the mere fact of accessing porn is a significant issue.

Reason (4) is the ultimate problem. It is the reason that pornography is banned in the workplace and the reason that Mr Green had to deny something. If he had been looking at images of (for example) cars nobody would have commented, nobody gets sacked for looking at cars and so nobody would need to deny anything.

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    It's probably worth mentioning, for foreign readers, that historical allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the UK parliament are high profile at the moment, because of the whole #MeToo thing. It's not really surprising that an old allegation has found new life.
    – richardb
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 9:50
  • Thank you for your answer! Like you mention, reason (4) is probably the most relevant. It was also the kind of explanation that I was trying to avoid, probably because I don't really understand why pornography enjoys a special status. Do you know of statistics on how many people object to pornography on moral grounds? I can't seem to find any (maybe there aren't)
    – John Donne
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 23:43
  • I would add 4a) pornographic sites are a likely source of viruses and other malware. Leaving morality aside, most IT departments have a strict policy against accessing them for practical reasons. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 10:03

Aside from James K's answer's reasons:

  • He was using a government's computer. With government's internet connection.

    These usually come with a set of rules of what is and isn't allowed activity wise, at least in any companies I worked in. I strongly suspect that porn is not on the list of allowed usages.

  • He may not have had a 9-5 job; but he was still being paid to attend to people's business. Not to surf porn.

  • "but he was still being paid to attend to people's business" -> technically speaking they're elected and not hired, therefore they don't have a job description per se. They're not obligated to do anything, although it could cost them a re-election in the future. Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 20:05
  • @JonathanReez - if he's drawing a salary, he's hired. Election is merely a method of hiring.
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 21:03

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