Gavin Williamson has accused the prime minister of mishandling his sacking, telling Sky News it was a “shabby and discredited witch hunt”.
The former defence secretary told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby he wanted a “full and impartial investigation” into the Huawei leak that led to his dismissal, with Scotland Yard having said it was satisfied that the disclosure from a National Security Council (NSC) meeting did not breach the Official Secrets Act.
Mr Williamson said: “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.”
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Some at Westminster had called for a criminal investigation into the leak of a decision to green-light a bid by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G network, details of which found their way into the media last month.
Theresa May has defended her decision to dismiss Mr Williamson after an inquiry found “compelling evidence” that he leaked the information.
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She told Sky News on Friday she has confidence the inquiry that led to him being fired was “properly conducted”.
The prime minister added: “The importance of this was not about the information that was leaked, it was where it was leaked from. This was about the NSC and trust in the NSC.”
Mr Williamson has asked for a copy of the report that led to his dismissal, but Mrs May refused to answer directly to his plea when asked by Beth Rigby.
“This was an inquiry that was properly conducted, it was conducted in the way that one would expect an inquiry of this sort to be conducted,” she said.
“As a result, I took the decision that it was necessary for the then secretary of state for defence to leave his post.”
Beth Rigby said “this is the story that the prime minister wanted to go away” and that Mr Williamson had now “come out all guns blazing”.
There has been no official confirmation from the government that it does plan to allow Huawei to play a key role in the development of 5G in the UK, amid concerns it could enable spying by the Chinese government.
Australia, New Zealand and the US are among the western nations to have barred the company from supplying vital elements of their infrastructure, and Canada could follow suit.
Following reports that the NSC had decided to allow Huawei to be involved in Britain, Downing Street said: “We don’t comment on NSC discussions.”
But the cabinet office has discussed the leak with Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who said he had also taken legal advice over the fallout.
He said he was “satisfied that the disclosure did not amount to a criminal offence” and that it was not a matter for the police, adding: “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.
“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.”
Mr Williamson – who has been replaced as defence secretary by Penny Mordaunt – previously told Sky News he would get the “nicest apology” from the prime minister if a criminal inquiry had gone ahead.
He had been “massively comfortable” with the prospect, adding that he was “visibly shocked” when he was informed of the decision to sack him.
This story was originally published on Sky News Technology