Sir Gavin Williamson has resigned from government after facing accusations of bullying.
His departure came shortly after an ex-civil servant, who claimed Sir Gavin told them to “slit your throat”, made a formal complaint against the Cabinet Office minister.
In his resignation letter that he shared on Twitter, Sir Gavin said he “refutes the characterization of these claims”, but that the allegations were “becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing for the British people”.
As a result, he had “decided to step back from the government so that I can fully comply with the complaints process that is underway and clear my name of any wrongdoing.”
Accusations against Sir Gavin came to light over the weekend when reports claimed he had sent abusive texts to former chief whip Wendy Morton.
Ms Morton made a complaint to the Conservative Party about the messages, but earlier today confirmed she was reporting him to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), parliament’s independent watchdog.
On Monday, a further allegation surfaced, with a former Ministry of Defense official saying he had told them to “slit your throat” and, on another occasion, “jump out of the window” in what they called a sustained campaign of bullying.
An hour ago, that ex-civil servant confirmed they too would be going to the ICGS as the incidents had an “extreme impact” on their mental health.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who appointed Sir Gavin to his cabinet just two weeks ago, had stood by his minister and accepted his explanation of events.
But earlier, Downing Street described the allegations from the former civil servant as “serious” and said it would consider “proper processes” before commenting further.
Sir Gavin served as Theresa May’s chief whip from 2016 and then as defense secretary from November 2017 until May 2019, but was fired over a row around a leak from government.
He was hired back by Boris Johnson as education secretary two months later, but was again ousted in September 2021 after much criticism of his handling of the brief during the pandemic.
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “This should be the third and final time Gavin Williamson is forced out of the Cabinet.
“Rishi Sunak has serious questions to answer about why he appointed Gavin Willliamson, then stood by him instead of sacking him. His promise to lead a government of integrity has now been left in tatters.”