Gavin Williamson facing investigation for ‘using cash as leverage with another MP’

Staffer claims then chief whip said he ‘owned’ a colleague because he granted access to hardship funds

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 15 November 2022 16:16 GMT
(Getty Images)

Parliament's standards watchdog has hinted that she is investigating Tory MP Gavin Williamson over claims he used money as leverage with another MP.

Mr Williamson allegedly provided hardship funds to another Conservative in financial difficulty, but told a colleague to pass on a message that "I now own him".

Katherine Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, was asked about the claims at an appearance at Parliament's Committee on Standards on Tuesday afternoon.

But she replied: "I think what I'd like to do in response to that is to say to you that I have to consider very carefully any live case and I don't want to prejudice or undermine any investigation into a live case."

The answer suggests there is a live investigation into Mr Williamson's conduct while he was government chief whip between 2016 and 2017.

Ms Stone did not clarify whether the investigation is in her capacity as standards commissioner, or Parliament’s separate Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which she also oversees.

In his question committee chair Chris Bryant had cited Clause 13 of the rules, which say "the acceptance by a member of a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a member" was against the rules.

Ex-Tory MP Anne Milton, who worked as a whip with Mr Williamson, recalled Mr Williamson telling her to relay the message about the strings attached to the hardship cash.

"I do remember him asking me to give the MP in question the cheque, and he waved it under my nose and said, 'make sure when you give him this cheque he knows that I now own him.'," she told Channel 4 News in an interview.

Mr Williamson resigned from his ministerial role at the Cabinet Office following the allegations, and others which were characterised as bullying.

The Tory MP disputed the characterisation of the claims but said he was “becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing".

Mr Williamson is facing two inquiries by parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme over the claims, and another internal Conservative party investigation.

His is one a number of MPs to face bullying allegations in recent weeks relating to their conduct around colleagues and officials.

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab is also among those under fire for allegedly throwing food across the room at work and making officials fear entering his office. He says there have been no formal complaints against him and he has a good working relationship with colleagues.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in