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Sacking Gavin Williamson was the right decision: Theresa May

The former defence secretary has strenuously denied being responsible for leaking secret information from the National Security Council.

Gavin Williamson was sacked as defence secretary earlier this week (Joe Giddens/PA)
Gavin Williamson was sacked as defence secretary earlier this week (Joe Giddens/PA)

Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted she took “the right decision” in sacking Gavin Williamson as defence secretary.

Mr Williamson was dramatically dismissed on Wednesday following an inquiry by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill into a leak of information from a top-secret meeting of the National Security Council.

Press reports on Friday quoted sources close to the former minister describing the investigation as “slipshod” and “rushed”.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee wrote to Sir Mark asking him to pass on his report on its outcome to them.

Mr Williamson has strenuously denied being behind the disclosure of details of an NSC discussion on the involvement of Chinese tech giant Huawei in the development of the UK’s 5G telecommunications network.

Mrs May told ITV News: “I did take a difficult decision.

“This was not about what was leaked, it was about where it was leaked from. It was the importance of the question of trust around that National Security Council table.”

Asked if she was convinced Mr Williamson was responsible for the leak of information about the NSC meeting, Mrs May said: “I took the decision that I did. That was the right decision.”

The Daily Telegraph quoted sources close to the South Staffordshire MP as saying the only evidence produced against him was the fact that he had spoken to one of its journalists and he had failed to sign a form promising full co-operation with the inquiry.

But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The investigation was conducted fairly by officials operating impartially.”

The chairwoman of Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Dame Margaret Beckett, wrote to Sir Mark – who is also Mrs May’s National Security Adviser – seeking information on the inquiry.

“The committee notes your ongoing inquiry into the leak of the National Security Council’s decision on the use of Huawei in the UK’s 5G telecommunications network,” wrote Dame Margaret.

“As this directly pertains to our work in scrutinising the NSC, the committee would like to be apprised of the outcomes of this leak inquiry once it is complete.”

The Downing Street spokeswoman declined to say whether Sir Mark’s findings were communicated verbally to Mrs May or in a written report.

Opposition parties have called for the PM to refer the case to police so a criminal investigation can be launched into whether Mr Williamson breached the Official Secrets Act.

But it is understood Sir Mark found the information leaked was not of a classification level which would make its disclosure a criminal act.

PA

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