Gavin Williamson resigns over bullying allegations

Sir Gavin Williamson resigned from the UK government on Tuesday night after a spate of bullying allegations and several formal inquiries into his conduct.

Williamson reportedly told a senior official to “cut his throat” and another official to “jump out the window” while serving as Secretary of Defense.

in the his letter to Prime Minister Rishi SunakThe minister without portfolio said the allegations and investigations into his behavior “are becoming a distraction from the good work this Government is doing for the British people”.

He added: “As you are aware, there is an ongoing grievance process in relation to text messages I sent to a colleague. I am following this process and have apologized to the recipient for these messages.”

Williamson added he was stepping down “with real sadness” and would continue to support the Sunak government as a backbench MP.

Until his resignation, Williamson faced an informal inquiry by Downing Street into his conduct. He also faces an inquiry through Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

Former Chief Whip Wendy Morton on Tuesday filed a formal complaint about Williamson’s behavior with the ICGS, which monitors MPs’ behavior.

The move follows claims by her that Williamson committed bullying after he sent her explosive-laden texts about the allocation of seats at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

Williamson, who returned to government last month as a fixer for Sunak in the Cabinet Office, did not deny using specific words on Tuesday but denied allegations of bullying and said he had “good working relationships” with officials in Cabinet departments where he had worked.

Number 10 previously described the allegations against Williamson as “serious”.

Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and a close Sunak ally, said Williamson’s alleged comments were “absolutely unacceptable”.

When asked by Sky News if Williamson was “unsackable,” Stride said, “I don’t think anybody’s unsackable; I’m not unassailable.” He also confirmed that Williamson was investigated by the ICGS after Morton’s complaint.

In a letter replying to Williamson’s resignation, Sunak said he supported his minister’s decision and understood why it was made.

“I know that your commitment to successive Conservative governments and the party over the years has been unwavering,” he wrote. “I would like to thank you for your personal support and loyalty.”

The opposition parties sharply criticized Sunak’s leadership on the matter. Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner argued Williamson’s appointment was “a damning reflection of a weak Prime Minister”.

“Rishi Sunak has appointed Gavin Williamson fully aware of the serious allegations about his conduct and has repeatedly expressed his confidence in him,” she said. “This is another example of Rishi Sunak’s poor judgment and weak leadership.”

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper argued that “what Rishi Sunak knew about these shocking allegations and when” needed to be clarified. She added: “[Sunak’s] The promise to lead government with integrity is now in shambles.”

Prior to Williamson’s resignation, Dave Penman, head of the FDA union, which represents senior officials, called the process investigating the officials’ allegations a “sham” and called on Sunak to appoint a new independent adviser on ministerial interests.

“Even if an official now comes forward with a new allegation against any minister, there is no way to investigate it. The whole process is a sham,” Penman said.

Lord Christopher Geidt, the last ethics adviser, resigned in June after a row with Boris Johnson over the Ministerial Code. Downing Street said Sunak intends to appoint a new adviser in due course.

https://www.ft.com/content/384f389b-fef4-41e3-8d0c-74cf7bd83e55 Gavin Williamson resigns over bullying allegations

Adam Bradshaw

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