Damian Green was fired by Theresa May because he lied, Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged.
The health secretary was asked by BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Thursday morning to drop the pretence that Green resigned and was in fact sacked.
“Yes, I think that is clear, sadly, from the letters that were exchanged. I think that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very sad moment,” he said. “Clearly he did something that was a breach of the ministerial code and that’s why Theresa May took the decision that she did.”
Hunt, who has been named as a possible successor to Green as first secretary of state, added: “Clearly he did something that was a breach of the ministerial code and that’s why Theresa May took the decision that she did.”
Green is one of May’s oldest friends and one of her few close political confidants. Hunt said he was “she she didn’t want him to go” and would have fired him with a “heavy heart”.
“Leadership is lonely. And despite the most incredible pressure over the last four months she has actually carried on and taken some very big decisions,” he added.
Hunt has previously said the job of health secretary would be his last “big” role in politics. But asked if would like to step up the role of de facto deputy prime minister, he simply said it was a “matter for the prime minister”.
Green lost his job at the top of government after he was found to have made “misleading” statements about allegations that police found pornography on computers in his parliamentary office in 2008.
The Cabinet Office inquiry also found that the claims made by Kate Maltby, the Conservative activist who claimed Green had made unwanted sexual advances towards her, were “plausible”.
Green’s sacking follows the November resignations of Sir Michael Fallon as defence secretary amid Westminster sleaze allegations, and international development secretary Priti Patel over undisclosed meetings in Israel.
May is unlikely to to replace Green until the New Year at the earliest as part of a reshuffle.
Labour said Green’s sacking leaves May “further weakened” while the Liberal Democrats said the Government was “barely holding itself together”.