Prime Minister Theresa May has sacked Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for leaking details of a National Security Council meeting to the Daily Telegraph.
The paper had reported that the government would be letting Chinese network hardware provider Huawei continue to sell components into the UK market.
The report triggered a diplomatic crisis with the United States, which threatened to cut off intelligence sharing if Huawei was allowed to continue to operate in the UK.
Gavin Williamson Sacked: The PM’s Letter in Full
A letter from the PM to Williamson today read: “It is vital for the operation of good government and for the UK’s national interest in some of the most sensitive and important areas that the members of the NSC – from our Armed Forces, our Security and Intelligence Agencies, and the most senior level of Government – are able to have frank and detailed discussions in full confidence that the advise and analyis provided is not discussed or disclosed beyond that trusted environment.”
“That is why I commissioned the Cabinet Secretary to establish an investation into the unprecedented leak from the NSC meeting last week, and why I expect everyone connected to it – Ministers 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. It has been conducted fairly, with the full co-operation of other NSC attendees. They have all answered questions, engaged properly, provided us as much information as possible to assist with the investigation, and encouraged their staff to do the same. Your conduct has not been of the same standard as the others.”
She continued: “I put to you the latest information from the investigation, which provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure. Not other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified.”
“It is vital that I have full confidence in the members of my Cabinet and of the National Security Council. The gravity of this issue alone, and its ramifications for the operation of the NSC and the UK’s national interest, warrants the serious steps we have taken, and an equally serious response.”
“It is therefore with great sadness that I have concluded that I can no longer have full confidence in you as Secretary of State for Defence and a Minister in my Cabinet and asked you to leave Her Majesty’s Government.”
Just spoken to Gavin Williamson who still denies he was the source of the leak from the National Security Council – says neither he nor his team would ever leak from NSC
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 1, 2019
Williamson denied being the source of the leak to BBC reporters today.
He has form in raising security concerns, however, after facing ridicule for leaving his iPhone’s voice assistant on in Parliament, leading some to question his ability to ensure operational security in a high profile role with significant responsibilities.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called for Williamson to be criminally prosecuted. There has been no formal confirmation of Huawei’s role in the 5G network and No 10 continues to state that a final decision will be made later this spring.