Gavin Williamson sacked as Defence Secretary over Huawei leak

Written by Kevin Schofield on 2 May 2019 in News

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was found by a probe to have leaked sensitive information about Chinese firm Huawei being awarded 5G infrastructure projects by the UK Government

Gavin Williamson and armed forces personnel - PA

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.

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".

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

In his reponse, Williamson "strenuously" denied being responsible for briefing the Daily Telegraph about May's plans to give Huawei a role in the development of the UK's 5G network, something which has caused alarm due to the firm's relationship with the Chinese government.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, he said: "I am sorry that you feel recent leaks from the National Security Council originated in my department. I emphatically believe this was not the case. I strenuously deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position."

Downing Street has insisted May believes the matter to be "closed" and therefore does not require a full police investigation.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson 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."

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince 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."

Stewart McDonald, the SNP's defence spokesman, said: "It is completely unacceptable that the Tories are putting the interests and national security of Scotland and the UK at risk in an increasingly dirty and shameful leadership battle.

"The UK government must clarify if they believe that Mr Williamson has broken the law, and if so, the matter must be passed to the police for a full criminal investigation."

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