Foreign

Bullying Claims: Sir Gavin Williamson Resigns

Sir Gavin Williamson has resigned as a government minister after allegations of bullying, saying he aims to clear himself of “any wrongdoing”.

The Member of Parliament, had been accused of sending abusive messages to a fellow Tory MP last month and of bullying a senior civil servant as defence secretary.

Sir Gavin said he “refuted” how his conduct had been characterized.

However, he added that the claims were becoming a “distraction” from the government’s “good work”.

In his resignation letter, he said he was leaving the government with “real sadness” but offered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak his “full and total support from the backbenches”.

He later tweeted he would not be taking any severance pay, adding that the money should go towards the government’s priorities such as “reducing the NHS’s waiting lists”.

In reply, Mr Sunak said he accepted his resignation “with great sadness” and thanked Sir Gavin for his “personal support and loyalty”.

“Your commitment to successive Conservative governments and the party over the years has been unwavering.”

Sir Gavin had come under increasing pressure since a series of expletive-laden text messages sent by him to Tory colleague and then-Chief Whip Wendy Morton were published in the Sunday Times.

On Monday a senior civil servant told the Guardian, Sir Gavin had bullied them and told them to “slit your throat”.

And on Tuesday, Anne Milton, who worked as deputy chief whip between 2015 and 2017, told Channel 4 News that Sir Gavin’s behaviour had been “threatening” and “intimidating”.

Earlier, Downing Street said it had been seeking to establish the facts about the reported comments to the civil servant.

Sir Gavin had also been reported to the MPs’ bullying watchdog – the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) – over his WhatsApp to Ms Morton.

The Guardian has reported that the senior civil servant who worked at the Ministry of Defence has also referred the MP to the watchdog.

In his resignation letter, Sir Gavin said he would comply with “an ongoing complaints process concerning texts he sent to a colleague” and added that he had “apologised to the recipient for those messages”.

BBC/Taiwo Akinola

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