Gavin Williamson sacked as Defence Secretary over Huawei leak

Posted On: 
1st May 2019

Theresa May has sacked Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary after a Whitehall probe found him guilty of leaking her decision to give Chinese firm Huawei a role in the development of the UK's 5G network.

Gavin Williamson leaked top-secret information to the Daily Telegraph.
Credit: 
PA Images

In a dramatic move, the Prime Minister said she could "no longer have full confidence" in her Cabinet colleague over his conduct.

A Downing Street spokesman said she had "lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of Defence Secretary and as a member of her Cabinet".

Furious Tory MP accuses Theresa May of ‘ignoring’ top intelligence advice over Huawei 5G risk

Jeremy Hunt 'caution' over Huawei amid row over 5G network decision

Senior ministers deny being source of Huawei leak as top civil servant launches inquiry

EXCL Theresa May’s top official launches leak inquiry after Huawei decision revealed

He has been replaced in the role by International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who becomes the first woman to hold the post.

The Daily Telegraph last week revealed how Mrs May had told a meeting of the National Security Council she planned to give Huawei a "non-core" role in the 5G project.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill launched a leak inquiry to find out who had passed on the top-secret information.

Sources close to Mr Williamson had denied he had anything to do with the unauthorised briefing, but Sir Mark's probe identified him as the culprit.

He was informed of his sacking by Mrs May during a short meeting on Wednesday evening.

In a letter to Mr Williamson, she said it was "an extremely serious matter, and a deeply disappointing one". 

The Prime Minister said: "That is why I commissioned the Cabinet Secretary to establish an investigation into the unprecedented leak from the NSC meeting last week, and why I expected everyone connected to it – mnisters and officials alike – to comply with it fully. You undertook to do so.

"I am therefore concerned by the manner in which you have engaged with this investigation. They have all answered questions, engaged properly, provided as much information as possible to assist with the investigation, and encouraged their staff to do the same. Your conduct has not of the same standard as others.

"In our meeting this evening, I put to you the latest information from the investigation, which provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure. No other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified."

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "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 Prime Minister thanks all members of the National Security Council for their full cooperation and candour during the investigation and considers the matter closed."

PROSECUTION

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable both said Mr Milliamson should now face a police probe over his actions.

He tweeted: "If he has leaked from the National Security Council, Gavin Williamson should be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. And he should forgo his ministerial severance pay."

Mr Cable said: "This story cannot begin and end with dismissal from office.

"What is at stake is the capacity of our security services to give advice at the highest level.

"This must now be referred to the Metropolitan Police for a thorough criminal investigation into breaches of the Official Secrets Act."