Gavin Williamson attacks Huawei leak investigation as ‘shabby and discredited witch hunt’

Former defence secretary calls for ‘impartial investigation’ into dismissal

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 04 May 2019 18:05 BST
Theresa May won't give Gavin Williamson Huawei leak report

Former defence secretary Gavin Williamson has attacked the investigation that led to his firing, labelling it a “shabby and discredited witch hunt”.

He has also called for a “proper, full and impartial” inquiry into the probe.

“With the Metropolitan Police not willing to do an criminal investigation it is clear a proper, full and impartial investigation needs to be conducted on this shabby and discredited witch hunt that has been so badly mishandled by both the prime minister and Mark Sedwill,” the politician said in a statement released on Saturday.

Mr Williamson was dismissed after Theresa May said there was “compelling evidence” he was behind a leak from the National Security Council (NSC).

He strongly denies the allegation.

The leaked reports from an NSC meeting last month suggested that Theresa May had cleared Chinese company Huawei to be involved in “non-core” elements of the 5G network, such as antennae.

Political insiders were taken aback by the leak and an investigation was swiftly launched, led by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill.

Mr Williamson’s fate was sealed after officials uncovered an 11-minute conversation with The Daily Telegraph reporter who revealed the Huawei decision.

A spokesperson for No 10 also criticised his lack of “candour” about the call’s contents.

On Saturday the Metropolitan Police said it was unlikely a crime had been committed when the information was leaked.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said that he was “satisfied” the details disclosed to the media did not “contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act”.

Mr Basu said he had made the assessment after speaking to the Cabinet Office regarding the nature of the material discussed at the top-secret meeting.

“Any organisation has the right to conduct an internal investigation into conduct in the workplace. It is not a matter for the police unless a crime is alleged,” he said.

“At no time have the police been provided with evidence by the Cabinet Office that a crime has been committed nor has it been suggested that a Gateway process would be required to enable that determination to be made.

“No crime has been alleged by the owner of the material and I am clear that the leak did not cause damage to the public interest at a level at which it would be necessary to engage misconduct in a public office.

“It would be inappropriate to carry out a police investigation in these circumstances.”

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The former defence secretary has previously called for a full criminal investigation into the leak.

Mr Williamson earlier said that such an investigation would “absolutely exonerate” him.

“I did take a difficult decision,” Theresa May told ITV News on Friday.

“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.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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