Cabinet Sec: No contact from officials with arrested adviser
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has written to the shadow Cabinet Office minister to say "there has been no contact from officials" with former No 10 policy adviser Patrick Rock since his arrest over allegations linked to child abuse images.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has said "there has been no contact from officials" with former No 10 policy adviser Patrick Rock following his arrest over allegations linked to child abuse images.
Responding to Labour's Jon Ashworth who wrote to him demanding further details, Sir Jeremy said he tried "to respond to your specific questions but, as you recognise, in doing so my overriding concern must be to avoid doing anything to prejudice or undermine an on-going police investigation."
He added that the decision not to reveal the claims was made to avoid “jeopardising either [the police’s] investigation or the possibility of a prosecution”.
Labour's shadow cabinet office minister has written to the country's top civil servant asking "a number of important questions" over the arrest of the Prime Minister's former deputy policy adviser over allegations linked to child abuse images.
Following claims of a Downing Street cover-up, Jon Ashworth said there were legitimate concerns "given that Mr [Patrick] Rock had a senior role at the heart of Government."
He asked the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood for information surrounding Number 10's decision to report Mr Rock to police, including when David Cameron was first made aware of the claims.
Labour MP John Mann said it was extraordinary that Downing Street did not make any public announcement after the resignation and arrest of former government policy adviser Patrick Rock.
"This is a man in the heart of 10 Downing Street, in the heart of government, couldn't be closer to power, he is part of power, and the fact that they've withheld that information for three weeks is all in all unacceptable," he said.
Explaining why Downing Street didn't make a statement at the time of Mr Rock's resignation, David Cameron said: "I I don't think it would be right to preemptively brief out a criminal investigation and that's why we did not do that."
"But as soon as questions were asked, as questions would inevitably be asked, we have given very full and straightforward answers," the Prime Minister added.
Few will have heard of Patrick Rock before now - except for those in the Tory Party's high command.
At 62, he has had a political career spanning four decades, working with senior party figures such as the former Tory leader Lord Howard, and the former party chairman, Lord Patten.
When the Prime Minister told me today he was "profoundly shocked" to hear of the allegations against Mr Rock involving images of child pornography, that was probably an understatement.
Mr Rock has been a confidant and adviser to David Cameron since the 1990s. The Prime Minister brought him back into the heart of government in 2011 as number two in the policy unit, where Mr Rock worked on issues which included internet filters to protect against child abuse images online.
David Cameron said he had to be careful what he said today because this was an ongoing criminal investigation.
But there was no disguising the fact that - whatever the outcome of the investigation - Mr Rock's arrest and resignation are a serious blow, both personally and professionally.
The Prime Minister's spokesman has said a complaint of inappropriate behaviour made against adviser Patrick Rock during his time at Downing Street was not linked to his arrest over alleged child abuse images.
ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen tweeted:
Answering a question from ITV News political correspondent Libby Wiener, David Cameron said: "Obviously when I heard these allegations I was profoundly shocked and I remain profoundly shocked today.
"In terms of the release of this information, I don't think it would be right to preemptively brief out a criminal investigation and that's why we did not do that but as soon as questions were asked, as questions would inevitably be asked, we have given very full and straightforward answers.
"I was told about this issue pretty much as soon as it was discovered. I've been very clear that we must handle this in an absolutely correct way and I'm satisfied that that is what Number 10 Downing Street has done."
Downing Street has confirmed Patrick Rock was one of the advisers involved in the Government's policy on internet filters to protect against child abuse images online.
Leading search engine companies Google and Microsoft agreed in November to introduce changes that will prevent such images from being listed in results for more than 100,000 searches.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said, "Patrick Rock was one of a number of advisers and officials involved in dealing with this issue but the work was led by somebody else, and decisions were taken by ministers."
The 62-year-old adviser was brought back into Downing Street by David Cameron in 2011 after they both worked in the Home Office under Michael Howard in the 1990s.
Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports that Downing Street have said policy adviser Patrick Rock resigned from his job on the day Downing Street was first made aware of a potential offence relating to child abuse imagery. He was arrested the next day.