The Guardian has reported that Patrick Rock, 62, a senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Director of Downing Street’s policy unit, resigned his position last month, the day before being arrested in relation to allegations relating to child abuse images.
Mr Rock was involved in drawing up the government’s recently announced policy for the large internet firms on online pornography filters (see article on this policy here). He was arrested the morning after his resignation and officers from the National Crime Agency subsequently examined computers and offices used in Downing Street by Rock.
A spokesman for No. 10 confirmed that “On the evening of 12 February, Downing Street was first made aware of a potential offence relating to child abuse imagery. It was immediately referred to the National Crime Agency (CEOP).
“The Prime Minister was immediately informed and kept updated throughout. Patrick Rock was arrested at his home in the early hours of 13 February, a few hours after Downing Street had reported the matter. Subsequently, we arranged for officers to come into No 10 and have access to all IT systems and offices they considered relevant.
“This is an ongoing investigation so it would not be appropriate to comment further, but the prime minister believes that child abuse imagery is abhorrent and that anyone involved with it should be properly dealt with under the law.”
The Guardian reports that, whilst Mr Rock has never been a member of Mr Cameron’s inner circle, he was a “respected and trusted figure who shared Cameron’s sense of humour”. Mr Rock, who as well as previously having held a post as a European Commission, worked closely with Mr Cameron as special advisers to Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary in the mid 1990s, had been tipped for a peerage.
Christine Sands, Head of the Child Abuse Department at Jordans Solicitors stated “If these allegations against Mr Rock are proven, then this is a major concern and indeed an embarrassment for the Government, given his position on devising policy relating to child abuse images online. Credit must be given to CEOP and the National Crime Agency for acting swiftly and decisively in what was undoubtedly a very sensitive operation. “