Damian Green is being investigated over allegations of sexual advances towards a Conservative activist. The first secretary of state allegedly made the advances towards Kate Maltby, a writer and activist. Green denies the incidents took place, calling them “absolutely and completely untrue.”

LONDON – Theresa May has launched an investigation into allegations that her deputy, Damian Green, made inappropriate advances towards a young female Conservative activist.

Green, the first secretary of state, was referred to the cabinet secretary by Downing Street on Tuesday night after Kate Malby alleged in The Times that he had made sexual advances towards her.

Maltby said Green had put “a fleeting hand against my knee” during a meeting in 2015 and sent her a suggestive text message after she was pictured wearing a corset in The Times.

Green denies the incidents took place and said: “it is absolutely and completely untrue that I’ve ever made any sexual advances on Ms Maltby.”

The first secretary of state added the "untrue allegation has come as a complete shock and is deeply hurtful."

Green, who is effectively the deputy prime minister, is the highest profile politician to be involved in the sexual harassment scandal around Westminister.

A dossier detailing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by Conservative MPs and Cabinet ministers has been leaked, and on Tuesday Defence Secretary Michael Fallon admitted to inappropriate behaviour towards a female journalist more than a decade ago.

Maltby, who is 30 years younger than Green, said that he "offered me career advice and in the same breath made it clear he was sexually interested."

The writer said: "It was not acceptable to me at the time and it should not be acceptable behaviour in Westminster in the future."

When meeting for drinks to discuss how to get involved in Conservative activism, Maltby said Green had told her his wife was "very understanding" and she then "felt a fleeting hand against my knee - so brief it was almost deniable."

Kate Maltby

Foto: Kate Maltby, who made the allegation source Sky News

She did not contact Green for a year afterwards, after being left "angry" by the incident, but he sent her a text a year later telling Maltby he had "admired [her] in a corset."

Maltby said: "I doubt you [Green] had any idea of how awkward, embarrassed and professionally compromised you made me feel. Perhaps you didn't realise why I was avoiding you. Perhaps you didn't feel you were doing anything wrong.

"That's why for some of us, bracing ourselves for backlash, now feels the time to speak out."

In a statement, Green said: "I have known Ms Maltby since she contacted me as a board member of Bright Blue, the Conservative thinktank, in 2014, and we have had a drink as friends twice-yearly.

"The text I sent after she appeared in a newspaper article was sent in that spirit - as two friends agreeing to meet for a regular catchup - and nothing more. This untrue allegation has come as a complete shock and is deeply hurtful, especially from someone I considered a personal friend."

Green is understood to have contacted lawyers to contest the allegations.

A Downing Street spokesperson told The Times: "An allegation has been made in relation to the first secretary of state, which he strongly denies. The prime minister has referred the matter to the cabinet secretary to establish the facts and report back as soon as possible."