Monday, December 01, 2008

No Wonder Damian Green Was Offended

I've written a short piece for COMMENT IS FREE on the use of the word 'grooming' in the Damian Green case. Here's an extract...

According to an internet dictionary, the word grooming means: "The act of attempting to gain the trust of a minor with the intention of having a sexual relationship with him or her."...It's what Tony is doing to Max's daughter in EastEnders at the moment...

Is it any wonder that Conservative MP Damian Green was incensed that this word was used during his interrogation by counter-terror police on Friday? He was accused of "grooming" a 26-year-old civil servant, Chris Galley, to provide him with official Home Office documents. Galley had, it appears, applied for a job in Green's office but was rejected for the post. It's difficult to see how any rational being, let alone a professional police officer could imagine how this could happen. Perhaps in their fevered imaginations they imagine Green saying to Galley: "Sorry, I'm not going to give you the job, oh, and by the way, can you give me some leaked documents?"

It's preposterous...

Read more HERE. Some of the comments are interesting, and it's not often that I say that about a CiF article's comments!


Jimmy said...

If that term was used then it should not have been.

David Boothroyd said...

So when you wrote that "Chris Grayling is being groomed for the role" here, you meant to imply that someone was trying to seduce him sexually?

Iain Dale said...

If that's the level of your argument, please don't bother contributing further to this thread.

Chris Paul said...



1. Certain officers of Royal Household
2. Carer for horses
3. Man in wedding picture
4. -'sman e.g. Best Man
5. Curry, tend etc of horse
6. Give neat appearance to
7. Prepare as political candidate
8. Prepare for career

Middle English meaning "boy"

These are glossed from a 1976 Concise Oxford. In which for example homosexual is only one of four definitions of "gay" (euphem). And ditto one of eleven for Queen.

But there are EIGHT count 'em reasons NOT to be offended by the use of the word groom or grooming in connection with the act of encouragement or preparation of a horse or person for their activity.

Seems a bloody excellent word for what Mr Green is supposedly guilty of. Are you one of those every-nine-seconds men Iain who can think of nothing but sex?

Someone whose toes are so long that they are disproportionately easily trodden on?

Hopefully your CiF piece had some kind of sense of proportion and wasn't over dramatic?

Male grooming will never be the same. And the lads at Newmarket are spitting feathers. And not from practising biting pillows as their "riders" (sounds a bit naughty) bear down (ditto) on their chargers (ditto) mind.

PS At least there are no broken links in this one.

Unknown said...

Iain, I'm very much enjoying your column's juxtaposition of this:

"Is it any wonder that Conservative MP Damian Green was incensed that this word was used during his interrogation by counter-terror police on Friday?"

with this:

"Leaking is like prostitution."

I'm disgusted that you could compare Damien Green to a kerb-crawler. Have you no sense of proportion?

Glynne said...

Just watching Ed Balls on Baby P(this was an awful avoidable event)
It is now obvious that the Damian arrest was carefully timed.
Mumbai terror, Parliment not sitting, The Baby P report release.

Smith, Brown et al. spinning "the police investigation must be allowed to run its course".

Constitutional Issues set to one side, MP's are not above the Law.

We can now expect the show trial, which will finally neuter Parliment by setting the necessary legal precedents.

None of the Executive accept they had prior knowledge of the events - but, what about Campbell and the rest of the No 10 media manipulators.

Jimmy said...

I'm waiting for someone to suggest that Mumbai was organised by Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell to provide cover.

Go on. You know you want to.

Anonymous said...

Toss pot Boothroyd and his fellow travellers can push off.

The use of this word in this context is disgusting.

'cultivating' might be more appropriate.

The continuing pathetic attempts by labour die hards is just plain laughable.

David Boothroyd said...

I guess the reason you got angry was because it destroyed your argument. The word "groom" is a perfectly ordinary English word which means, in this context, to encourage and train someone to take a particular role for which the person doing the grooming feels they are suited. It does not have any necessary predatory sexual pejorative meaning and you yourself used it freely when you clearly did not have this meaning in mind.

Given that, is it not difficult bordering on impossible to make the claim that the police were being manifestly inappropriate in using the word "groom" to refer to encouraging a civil servant to disclose confidential documents?

Mark Senior said...

Perhaps , when he applied for the job with Damian Green , it was suggested to him that for the moment the best thing for the Conservative party would be for him to stay where he is and leak any confidential information he could and should he be found out he would be looked after .
Rather a more plausible scenario that the police would consider seriously than the one you suggest and dismiss .

Jimmy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy said...


I pretty much agree with the rest of what you have posted but to suggest the word is used innocently in this context is disingenuous


Of course one must stress that Mr. Green is entitled to the presumption of innocence but it strikes me is likely that the investigation is proceeding broadly along the lines of the scenario you suggest. I would be interested to know whether the pro-Green posters would regard such behaviour as defensible, were it to transpire that your hypothesis was correct.

Anonymous said...

Boothroyd is being perverse - if he does not mind me using the word.

Maybe we should start accusing the Prime Minister of pursuing 'queer' policies?

The seriousness of this situation is quite apparent right now.

Gove is just being interviewed over the Baby P case. Suppose he had received a leak from a government dept over this. Right now he would be in fear of police prosecution.

Twice he was asked about report that he has seen but which is currently confidential - twice he had to say he could not comment.

What a disgrace

As the odious Boothroyd and his fellow disreprobates well know the use of this word is inflammatory and could easily been avoided.

Unknown said...

Quick question, Iain: if you object to the word "grooming" as wholly inappropriate in this context, do you also condemn with equal prominence the descriptions of Green's arrest as "Stalinesque", and comparisons with the treatment of Robert Mugabe's political opponents?

Tim said...

Iain, the words 'groom', 'groomed' and 'grooming' have been used dozens of times on this website (by you and your audience), but only once can I see it being used in relation to paedophilia (not counting this post, obviously).

Given this and your dismissal of DB's comments, do you stand by this assertion that your article rests so heavily upon?

" most people nowadays, the word 'grooming' has only one connotation and it's related to paedophilia."

I'm happy to move on to use/context as you see it, but please do keep in mind that, so far, the only claims about how/when the word was used have come from unnamed sources close to Damian Green, and even these are quite vague.

strapworld said...

Boothroyd has moved from Erskine May to Enid Blyton! Typical of his juvenile behaviour.

He is a quite sad individual.

Sadly, Grooming meant differently in the fifties. As were many words. 'Gay', 'Benefits' and even 'Labour Party'.

In those days the Labour Party was for the working class and oppressed.

Today it is for the fast and loose and morally bankrupt.

Sad, really!

Mark Senior said...

Jimmy , yes I agree that Mr Green is at this stage to be presumed innocent but certainly the police are justified in investigating the extent of the relationship between Messrs Grayling/Green .
Some of the more hysterical pro Green posters have come up with contradictory arguments without waiting for the facts to emerge .
Some say he has committed no crime at all , others that he may have committed a minor crime but the ends justify the means .
It seems to be a fault in the Conservative way of thinking that they can justify criminal actions but only if committed by members of their own party and brings back bad and sad memories of the Arms to Iraq affair when some Conservative ministers and probably Mrs Thatcher herself were eager to suppress evidence from the courts in order to obtain the false conviction of a number of innocent business men .

Jimmy said...


Indeed, this is the meat of the matter but it is something on which the conservative posters are reluctant to engage. It may well be that Mr. Galley's job interview and his subsequent leaks were nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence, but were it otherwise would his those who defend Mr. Green here, and elsewhere, continue to do so? Surely that is a rather more pressing question than the definition of the word "grooming".

Anonymous said...

In the context of organs of the state immediately abusing any power they are given, and notably last week's decision to hand out tasers to Plod, I have a question/problem.

I recall that one of the first uses [indeed, possibly the very first] of a taser in London - after their limited introduction in 2004 - was when Plod stopped a driver on Park Lane. Driver got a bit stroppy, but certainly not violent, so Plod zapped him. Tasers were then 'supposed' only to be used in dangerous situations, not when someone objected to being stopped and hectored by a self-important bobby.

It was a brief scandal at the time, but seesm to have [been] disappeared. I've had a casual trawl on the interweb for reference to this incident, but can't find any corroboration. Perhaps someone can help.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the civil servant is being"groomed"by the police in his cell,oops sorry "care home",right now.The police will have to charge Green with something to save what little respect they still hold.

Nigel said...

Disingenuous bollocks from Boothroyd, Paul et al.

Given the legal context, it is quite clear what the intended message is.

"Certain officers of Royal Household" ?
Please don't insult our intelligence.

Paddy Briggs said...

Tiny bit over-sensitive here Iain?

I think that the English language can be trusted to allow the verb "To groom" to cover situations other than the one that you alude to.

My cat Freddie (newly groomed) thinks so as well...

James said...


On the subject of the Met out of control (and the IPCC very much in their pockets) has anyone else seen this disgusting story:

I think it deserves a post of its own from our host.

Vienna Woods said...

As Mr Galley has now been present at a press conference with his legal mouthpiece, it would appear that he in no way implicates Damian Green, other than as a recipient of information. Nothing about "grooming", or whatever you like to call it, so where do we go from here?

I firmly believe that the Met are up the creek without a paddle and damn well know it. They have probably been told to find something, anything, to justify their actions and will keep it going until it becomes less newsworthy.

Make no mistake, Brown, the Dark Lord, the mental breakdown case and Jaqui (it wasn't me ) Smith will be pushing this for all it's worth.

Mike Hobday said...

I'm interested in why the Conservatives took a word allegedly used, whether with malice or innocence, in a private interview in a police station, and made it public.

It would be helpful, of course, if the Conservatives would make the rest of the intevriew available. Presumably there is a tape.

Jimmy said...


He says nothing at about the extent of Green's role, either for or against. He certainly doesn't exonerate him. He does however state that the allegation of entrapment previously made by sourcesoffriendscloseto Mr. Green was a concoction.

Iain Dale said...

Mike, you really don't have a clue do you? Are you seriously suggesting the Police provided Damian Green with a tape of his interview, or are just being stupid?

Iain Dale said...

JHL, I had to delete your last comment. It was a wholly fabricated account of Chris Galley's lawyer's briefing and potentially libellous.

Vienna Woods said...

Jimmy, I never pay too much attention to entrapment allegations as such, for the simple reason that the police are forbidden to use entrapment methods under the PACE rules. However, I'm waiting for the day when this disgusting Labour cabal are caught suborning a perjury. It's come pretty close once or twice already.

Mike Hobday said...

Actually I do have a clue -

"Most interviews at police stations with persons suspected of having committed indictable or either way offences should be tape recorded."

Iain Dale said...

Sigh. My point was that they are hardly like to give a copy of it to Damian Green are they?

Jimmy said...

Does the defence no longer get a copy of the tape?

Iain Dale said...

No idea. Did they ever? I have never been in that position :)

Tim said...

As much as I hate to interrupt this leap from "you really don't have a clue" to "(I have) no idea", I'd appreciate you taking the time to address my earlier comment sometime soon, Iain.


Iain Dale said...

Tim, Completely stand by it. In this context it does have perverted sexual overtones and I think anyone who had it put to them in the way DG apparently did would have been as shocked as he was.

Jimmy said...


It's been a while since I dealt with this but I believe he gets a copy if he is charged.

I assume he could also get a copy if he ends up suing them but I suppose that all depends how things pan out.

Tim said...

Well, you don't stand by it if you rely on presenting the word's use in a certain context (you said "the word 'grooming' has only one connotation", using no qualifying text about context), but as we've arrived at context, what context do you mean exactly?

All we know for sure is that it is alleged that the word may have been used by the police at some stage during questioning.

This was (one assumes rather graciously) interpreted a certain way by Green... according to "friends" and "senior Conservatives".

You clearly fill in the gaps for yourself here while speculating that the police have "fevered imaginations".


Anonymous said...

I see Chris Paul and David Boothroyd are still trying to annoy everyone with their Nuremberg-style defences. We all know 'grooming' is a term used for paedios. This is why the term was used as Zanulabour wish to confuse the public about this MP just guilty of doing his job. No wonder the Labour leadership keeps behaving badly when they have such sycophants encouraging them. Such blind devotion to their morally bankrupt leadership is the reason people like me who once loved Labour would sooner cut off our own arms than vote for that odious party again.

Anonymous said...

In common media parlance, this is how the term 'grooming' is used:

Carl Eve said...


But "cultivating" is used for cannabis factories, so by suggesting that (according to Iain's theory of police smear) you're accusing Green of being a drugs manufacturer and dealer.

"grooming" is also used for terrorists (particularly over the internet)

"recruiting" would be a leftover from the cold war, which would suggest Marxist spies.

"touchy" would be a good word, as would "misdirection" because that's what the MPs are being.

"plant" is also a good word, as in "I wonder if the Conservatives planted that guy there just to spy on the Home Office?"

So - "The continuing pathetic attempts by labour die hards is just plain laughable."

Yes. It is. As laughable as the attempts by Tory die hards to feign offence, call up the hallowed integrity of Parliament (is there any?) in an attempt to create a nice little smokescreen.

I note after Osborne's shennanigans the Ross/Brand/BBC-is-evil debacle suddenly got top billing.

I also note that since Green got into the papers, the Barrowman-and-his-willy-and-the-BBC-is-still-evil is now all the rage.

Another smokescreen?


Of course it is.... Iain will no doubt say.

Carl Eve