Michael Fallon: My behaviour was acceptable 10 years ago
Michael Fallon has said he had to quit as Defence Secretary over past misdemeanours - but insisted his behaviour was "acceptable" 10 years ago.
In a move that shocked Westminster last night, Mr Fallon quit his Cabinet post, telling the Prime Minister his conduct had “fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces”.
It came just a day after he apologised for touching journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee at a dinner in 2002.
Later Mr Fallon told the BBC: “The culture has changed over the years, what might have been acceptable 15, 10 years ago is clearly not acceptable now.
"Parliament now has to look at itself and the Prime Minister has made very clear that conduct needs to be improved and we need to protect the staff of Westminster against any particular allegations of harassment."
Asked if he thought he should apologise, the Tory veteran said: "I think we've all got to look back now at the past, there are always things you regret, you would have done differently."
Amid speculation that there may be more allegations yet to surface, friends of Mr Fallon last night voiced concerns that other incidents which he had previously considered to be “flirtation” could become public.
One ally said: “Alcohol is a power drug which turns some into a Jekyll and Hyde,” while another added: “Has there been flirtation that has been inappropriate? Yes, he will concede that.”
Fuelling the rumours of further accusations Ms Hartley-Brewer took to Twitter saying “I doubt my knee was the reason.”
In a resignation letter to the Prime Minister Mr Fallon wrote: “A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct.
“I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defence Secretary.”
Significantly, Mrs May’s official spokesman refused to confirm that she had full confidence in Mr Fallon when asked earlier this week.
His decision to quit will force her into a reshuffle, and comes as the Cabinet Office investigates allegations against Damian Green, the de facto deputy Prime Minister.
In her letter to the Sevenoaks MP, the Prime Minister paid tribute to his "long and impressive ministerial career.”