Fired British Secretary For Security Denies Reports He Wanted To Raid Zimbabwe Accuses May Of Smearing Him
6 May 2019
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Gavin Williamson

Fired Secretary for Security, Gavin Williamson has accused British Prime Minister Theresa May of trying to smear him, following reports he wanted to “invade Zimbabwe and other African States” and had made derogatory comments about Theresa May’s diabetes.

In an escalation of the row between May and Williamson, who was sacked as defence secretary on Wednesday, he accused May of being behind anonymous briefings and a leak of confidential information to discredit him.

Williamson was fired over allegations he leaked information from the National Security Council (NSC), which he has strongly denied, and called for a police investigation to clear his name.

He was himself the subject of a leak from the NSC on Sunday, after a document was passed to a newspaper suggesting he had wanted to send troops into at least five African countries, along with a briefing that he wanted to invade Africa.

It was also reported he was overheard saying May was unfit to hold office because of her diabetes.

Williamson dismissed the reports as smears. “I find it very disturbing that No 10 are leaking confidential information in order to try and smear me,” he said. “This goes to show that they had no evidence to justify the actions the prime minister took last week.”

No 10 sources denied that anyone from Downing Street was behind the briefings.

Williamson helped to put the prime minister in Downing Street by organising her campaign to be Conservative leader and he was later promoted from chief whip to defence secretary. But he was sacked by the prime minister because she believed he was responsible for telling the Telegraph that the government would allow the Chinese state company Huawei to be involved in the 5G communications network.

A number of Conservative MPs have rallied round Williamson since his sacking, saying May should only have acted on clear evidence.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the European Research Group of MPs, asked whether Williamson was “stitched up for being right”, after the police said there were no grounds to investigate a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, said: “I do not know whether Gavin Williamson leaked any Huawei material or not, but accusations about his criticising the prime minister for her diabetes – which he denies and appears ridiculous – sounds like the No 10 spin machine in deep briefing overdrive.”

Williamson has vowed to clear his name over the NSC leak, claiming he was “royally screwed over”, but No 10 is refusing to release the report prepared by Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, into his conduct. The public evidence so far is that Williamson had an 11-minute conversation with the Telegraph journalist who wrote the story about Huawei before it appeared.

He told the Sunday Express he believed it was “a game of politics, settling scores and trying to prove the prime minister’s political strength”.

“This whole affair hasn’t been about trying to find the real culprit who leaked what was said at that meeting,” he said. “The PM has spoken about compelling evidence. Well, I’d like to see it.

“With the Metropolitan police not willing to do a 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.”