Gavin Williamson sacked by Prime Minister over Huawei leak

Williamson denies the allegations despite claims of "compelling evidence" against him

Gavin Williamson

Former Secretary of Defence Gavin Williamson has "strenuously" denied allegations that suggest he was behind a leak which led to information about the UK's networking arrangement with Huawei to provide non-core 5G infrastructure being distributed to the press.

As a member of the National Security Council, Williamson has signed the Official Secrets Act and, if Mrs May's allegations are found to be true, he could face jail time as well as losing his seat in government.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The leaked information pertained to the deal supposedly struck by Mrs May and Huawei last week where the Prime Minister agreed to allow the Chinese vendor partial access to the UK's 5G network, allowing it to provide non-core infrastructure components.

Speaking to Sky News, Williamson swore on his children's lives that he did not leak the information to The Telegraph, the newspaper which originally reported the deal. He also said "I did not leak this, and to my dying day I will keep insisting that," to The Sun.

The information is said to have come from a top-secret National Security Council meeting held on 23 April, which comprised the Prime Minister, other senior ministers and occasionally members of the intelligence agencies and the military.

As Defence Secretary, Williamson would have attended many, if not all of the Council's meetings since his appointment in November 2017.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In a letter to Williamson accompanying his dismissal, Mrs May wrote that an investigation following the leak which involved the examination of Williamson's phone provided "compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure".

Advertisement - Article continues below

It has been revealed by his own admission that the former Secretary of Defence had a conversation with the same journalist that broke the story on that particular day.

Williamson is said to have been viewed by Westminster colleagues as an opportunist, quick to seek his own political advantage and "too entertained by the dark arts of Westminster", according to the BBC. One of Williamson's allies reportedly coined the term "operation get Gav" to describe the situation where fingers were immediately being pointed to Williamson in the privacy of Westminster.

The decision to allow Huawei partial access was reportedly made prior to reviewing the National Cyber Security Centre's 6-month advisory report which would have provided informed guidance on the decision.

The Prime Minister's decision has been met with controversy in and outside of Westminster, some MPs believe that the UK shouldn't be allowing Huawei any access to the country's 5G network at all.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"We do want to ensure as we look to the future development of telecoms networks here in the United Kingdom that we can ensure the greater resilience of those networks, that we improve cyber security," said Mrs May after being quizzed by a Parliamentary committee on the matter.

Opposition parties had previously called for a criminal investigation into the leak, with Labour quick to point to the Conservative's apparent lack of control over the crisis. However, Mrs May's decision to sack Williamson so soon after the leak marks a clear statement of intent as she attempts to salvage order within her party.

Following the unofficial announcement of its deal with the UK, Huawei said it was "pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its [choice of 5G vendors], and we will continue to work cooperatively with the government, and the industry".

Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt will now succeed Williamson as Defence Secretary.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now



K2View innovates in data management with new encryption patent

28 May 2020
video conferencing

Zoom 5.0 adds 256-bit encryption to address security concerns

23 Apr 2020

WhatsApp flaw leaves users open to 'shoulder surfing' attacks

21 Apr 2020
cyber security

Microsoft AI can detect security flaws with 99% accuracy

20 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft warns users not to install Windows 10's May update

28 May 2020
Server & storage

Dell EMC PowerEdge R7525 review: An EPYC core density to make Intel weep

26 May 2020
Network & Internet

Intel releases Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver updates for Windows 10

26 May 2020