Sacked Defence Secretary Denies Involvement in Huawei Leak
Prime Minister Theresa May is facing pressure to reveal the “compelling evidence” on which she based her decision to sack Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over the top-secret Huawei leak.
Following an inquiry into the recent Huawei leak, Prime Minister Theresa May has dismissed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson from his post saying she had “lost confidence in his ability to serve” – his role will be taken over by Penny Mordaunt – making her the UK’s first ever female defence secretary.
In a meeting with Williamson, the PM told him she had information that provided “compelling evidence” that he was the guilty party. In the letter confirming his dismissal, May wrote: “No other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified”.
In response to her letter, he said he was “confident” that a “through and formal inquiry” would have “vindicated” his position. Williamson strongly denies any role in the leaking the information, “I never have leaked anything from the National Security Council nor would I ever leak anything from the National Security Council”.
“I appreciate you offering me the option to resign, but to resign would have been to accept that I, my civil servants, my military advisers or my staff were responsible: that was not the case,” he said.
Speaking to Sky News he said, “I have been completely and utterly screwed,” asserting that his dismissal was a politically motivated move.
Downing Street has said that May “considered the matter to be closed,” however, there are growing calls for a police investigation to ascertain whether Williamson breached the Official Secrets Act.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “There’s a very, very important principle of our system that those decisions are not made by politicians, they are made independently by police”.
Dominic Grieve, head of the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said today “There is certainly an argument for referring it to the police. That’s a matter which the Cabinet Secretary and Prime Minister have to justify”.
Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, said: “This is about the law applying equally and to everyone. We have had high-profile civil servants go to jail for breaching the Official Secrets Act. The logic of the prime minister’s letter is she says she has compelling evidence that suggests he has done the same.
“He is denying it and he has the right to clear his name – the way to do that is a criminal inquiry if confidential information has leaked.”
It is still being debated whether or not Williamson, if responsible, has broken the Official Secrets Act. Former cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell said that Williamson had broken the ministerial code, but not secrecy laws.
Speaking on the Today programme, O’Donnell said: “The cabinet secretary is saying, ‘Look, this is a matter for the violation of the ministerial code. It is not a breach of the Official Secrets Act putting people’s lives at risk.’
“That is why it is a matter for the prime minister to decide does she want this person in her political team when faced with this evidence? And she’s basically decided that he is not the Lionel Messi of the cabinet and she can do without him.”
A Met Police spokesman said: “We’re aware of the media reports in relation to the leak, and that is a matter for the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office to look at. At this time, we’re not carrying out an investigation.
“Clearly if at any stage we receive any information that would suggest criminal offences have been committed, then we will look into that.”