Damian Green, one of British Prime Minister Theresa May's closest allies, has been sacked from the cabinet after an inquiry found he had breached the ministerial code. He was asked to quit after he was found to have made inaccurate and misleading statements over what he knew about claims pornography was found on his office computer in 2008.
He also apologized for making writer Kate Maltby feel uncomfortable in 2015.
Green, 61, who as first secretary of state was effectively the PM's deputy, is the third cabinet minister to resign in the space of two months - Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel both quit in November.
In her written response, Mrs. May expressed deep regret at Mr. Green's departure but said his actions fell short of the conduct expected of a cabinet minister. Like Mrs. May, Mr. Green campaigned for Remain in last year's EU referendum and had been a leading voice in Cabinet for a softer Brexit.
He had been under investigation regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior towards journalist and Tory activist Ms Maltby. He denied suggestions that he made unwanted advances towards her in 2015.
He also denied that he had either downloaded or viewed pornography on a computer removed from his Commons office in 2008 and said police had never suggested to me that improper material was found
In his resignation letter, Mr Green said statements he made about what he knew about the pornography could have been clearer, conceding that his lawyers had been informed by Met Police lawyers about their initial discovery in 2008 and the police had also raised the matter with him in a phone call in 2013.
I apologize that my statements were misleading on this point, he said.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today program Mr Green had lied about a particular incident and that was why he had to go but it was a sad moment.
Asked if his departure left Theresa May more isolated, he said leadership is lonely but she had shown extraordinary resilience in very challenging circumstances and was someone who is capable of taking very difficult decisions.
An official report by the Cabinet Office found that public statements he made relating to what he knew about the claims were inaccurate and misleading and constituted a breach of the ministerial code.
The report also found that although there were competing and contradictory accounts of what were private meetings between himself and Ms Maltby, the investigation found her account to be plausible.
Her parents, Colin and Victoria Maltby, said in a statement they were not surprised to find that the inquiry found Mr Green to have been untruthful as a minister, nor that they found our daughter to be a plausible witness.
They praised their 31-year-old daughter for her courage in speaking out about the abuse of authority. Ms Maltby is not commenting on Mr. Green's resignation until she receives more details from the Cabinet Office.
Mrs. May, who has known Mr Green since they were contemporaries at Oxford, brought him into the cabinet after she became PM in 2016 and promoted him to first secretary of state in July. Since then, he has played a substantial role behind the scenes chairing key cabinet committees and has also deputized for Mrs. May at Prime Minister's Questions.
It is not clear who will replace him in those roles but unconfirmed reports have suggested there will be no announcement until the New Year, with Parliament due to go on recess.