A former official House of Commons photographer who captured “renaissance style” photos of Theresa May and John Bercow during the Brexit drama of last year has been told he will not be investigated further after parliamentary authorities suspected him of taking historic furniture, lampshades and candlesticks from parliament.
Mark Duffy said he was “absolutely relieved” to have heard from the police that the case was closed, ending two weeks of stress and anxiety.
A team of Metropolitan police officers searched Mark Duffy’s London house 10 days ago on the basis of a court order obtained by the parliamentary liaison and investigations team seeking any “Pugin-designed furniture, candlesticks, ceramics, clocks or lamps”.
The photographer said he was shocked by the raid, which he described as an overreach of executive power by parliamentary authorities.
After two hours they left with a piece of fabric of bearing the Portcullis House insignia, which Duffy said he had bought off the internet, and a plastic sign bearing the name of the former Brexit secretary David Davis, which he said he had retrieved from a bin.
In a statement the Metropolitan police confirmed: “No criminal offences were discovered and the case was closed.”
“I just feel absolutely relieved. It has been exhausting,” said Duffy, whose images of May, Bercow and others captured the highly charged exchanges of the last two years in parliament and were dubbed “accidental renaissance” for their composition.
Duffy was sacked from his post in September after clashing with his employers for allegedly bringing parliament into disrepute over social media posts and use of abstract images linked to Westminster in an art exhibition.
He believes one post that caused consternation was a photo he took of a line of phallus-like shadows cast on Westminster Bridge by the trefoil shaped holes in the guard wall.
It is an image that has appeared in national newspapers and tourist guides as a quirky feature of the bridge at certain times of day.
Duffy claimed last year’s report by Dame Laura Cox into allegations of bullying and harassment in parliament was “spot on” but was being acted on in an “a la carte” way instead of leading to a “root and branch” review.
The raid on his house, he claimed, was “an extreme example” of “misuse of powers”. He has consulted a lawyer.
A House of Commons spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on individual HR matters. The House of Commons has extensive policies in place to protect both staff and managers should allegations of misconduct arise. We work closely with the recognised trade unions on all disciplinary cases and ensure that any staff involved are offered representation and have access to emotional support. Questions relating to alleged criminal offences and police activity are a matter for the Metropolitan police”.
The Commons Also that the House was going through a “cultural transformation” including “work to implement all of the recommendations made by Dame Laura Cox”.
It added all employees were required to abide by its “clear guidance on political activity and impartiality”.