POLITICS

Gavin Williamson Did Not 'Sit On' Sexual Harassment Claims, Says Downing Street

More allegations have emerged since Williamson left the whips office

06/11/2017 12:34 GMT
PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May does not believe her former chief whip held back allegations of sexual misdemeanors by Tory MPs in order to enforce party discipline, her spokesman confirmed today. 

Gavin Williamson, who was appointed May’s chief enforcer in Parliament as soon as she became Prime Minster in 2016, was promoted to Defence Secretary last week as the sexual harassment claims sweeping Westminster claimed Sir Michael Fallon as its first scalp.

But in the days following Williamson’s promotion, more allegations of wrongdoing involved Tory MPs have emerged – with the behaviour of two Conservatives being referred to the police.

Asked this morning if the Prime Minister was happy Williamson did not “sit on” any of the allegations, her official spokesman said: “Yes.”

He also said: “Where allegations have been raised we have pursued it and made sure actions taken in the right way.”

The spokesman, who last week denied the PM is given a weekly briefing of the misdemeanors of Tory MPs, said: “Wherever she’s been aware of allegations actions been taken.”

When asked if May was confident the whips office had adopted the same approach, the spokesman replied: “We’ve been clear as to what we want to achieve. I’ve been asked questions in relation to the whips office while the PMs been in charge and I’ve answered that she has confidence that they behaved in the right way.” 

At a speech to the CBI conference in London this morning, May seemed to indicate she was aware of sexual harassment claims that had not yet been reported in the media.

She was asked if she could “hand on heart” promise that she was not aware of any of the claims that have emerged over the last two weeks.

“A number of stories have appeared the press, a number of issues were raised with me that didn’t appear in the press,” the Prime Minister said.

Her spokesman warned against interpreting May’s comments as meaning she is aware of more allegations.

He said: “The way I took her answer was, where allegations have been made known to her, action has been taken straight away.

“All claims that she’s aware of have been investigated in the proper way.”