UK: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson SACKED over National Security Council Leak

Huawei
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence, has been sacked by Prime Minister Theresa May after details of a National Security Council meeting in which Chinese tech giant Huawei’s potential involvement in 5G infrastructure was leaked to the press.

“The Prime Minister has this evening asked Gavin Williamson to leave Government, having lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of Defence Secretary and as a member of her Cabinet,” said a Government spokesman.

“The Prime Minister’s decision has been informed by his conduct surrounding an investigation into the circumstances of the unauthorised disclosure of information from a meeting of the National Security Council.”

The spokesman added that the Government now “considers the matter closed” — although many observers believe it is likely that the Opposition will push for a police investigation and criminal charges if the now ex-minister breached the Official Secrets Act.

Williamson, for his part, is adamant that he is not responsible for the leak, and has published a response to the Prime Minister in which he reveals he declined an invitation to resign, and escape the ignominy of being axed outright, because “to resign would have been to accept that I, my civil servants, my military advisers or my staff were responsible: this was not the case.”

“Restoring public confidence in the [National Security Council] is an ambition we both share. With that in mind I hope that your decision achieves this aim rather than being seen as a temporary distraction,” he added acidly.

It is a spectacular fall from grace for Williamson, a former Parliamentary Private Secretary to previous prime minister David Cameron regarded as instrumental in Theresa May’s ascension to the party leadership, and her Chief Whip during the early stages of her government.

Penny Mordaunt, formerly Secretary of State for International Development (Foreign Aid), has replaced him at the Ministry of Defence.

This story is developing.

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