Sir Gavin Williamson is facing a series of inquiries into his conduct as fresh allegations emerged of his “unethical and immoral” behaviour.
No. 10 is conducting a fact-finding exercise following claims that Cabinet minister Sir Gavin told a senior civil servant to “cut your throat” as the Conservative party and Parliament’s watchdog look into allegations made by former chief executive Wendy Morton.
Pressure continued to mount on Sir Gavin as his former deputy Anne Milton claimed he used intimidation and threat tactics while chief minister.
And the senior civil servant who claims he was assaulted by Sir Gavin when he was defense secretary has reportedly lodged a formal complaint with Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievances System (ICGS).
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to give a Cabinet-level role to the twice-sacked minister led critics to question his judgment.
No. 10 said on Tuesday that Mr Sunak still retained confidence in his ally, but indicated that the prime minister would act if necessary.
In the latest revelations, former deputy leader Anne Milton accused Sir Gavin of trying to use an MP’s financial difficulties as leverage against them and sending an insult-laden email about a female public servant.
Ms Milton, who was deputy head from May 2015 to June 2017, described his behavior as “unethical and immoral”, claiming: “I think he feels he is Francis Urquhart from House Of Cards.”
Ms Milton, who was stripped of the Tory whip during the Brexit row in 2019 and subsequently lost her seat, told Channel 4 News: “I got the impression she loves gossip and would use it as leverage against parliamentarians if necessary. .”
She told the broadcaster that Sir Gavin made the revelation about civil servants in 2016 in response to a woman who asked why a minister had to change travel plans for a vote.
“Always tell them to get off and if they’re stupid to come see me,” he said in an email, according to Ms. Milton.
“F***** jumped up civil servants.”
She said that when the whip’s office offered some financial assistance to an MP, Sir Gavin told her that when he handed over the cheque, he should make sure “he knows I now own it”.
She questioned Mr Sunak’s decision to give Sir Gavin a ministerial job, saying: “I think (at best) he was probably a bit naive. I don’t know that there are many people who would turn out to see Gavin Williamson back in government.
Ms Milton’s claims follow allegations that Sir Gavin clashed with a civil servant while he was defense secretary.
Sir Gavin denied the official’s allegation of a campaign of bullying but did not deny he made the remarks, including telling the civil servant to “jump out the window”.
The Guardian, which first reported the allegations, said a complaint had now reached the ICGS.
In a statement, the complainant said he had had an “incredibly difficult time” working for Sir Gavin at the Ministry of Defense and that the alleged assault had had an “extreme impact” on their mental health.
Downing Street is understood to be undertaking a fact-finding exercise and considering how to respond to the allegations.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “These are serious allegations that have come forward.”
In a statement after the Guardian report, Sir Gavin said: “I strongly reject this allegation and I have enjoyed good working relationships with many brilliant officials with whom I have worked across government.”
Meanwhile, the AP news agency understands that former leader Ms Morton has taken her complaint to Parliament’s bullying watchdog, while an internal Conservative party inquiry is ongoing.
Mr. Sunak’s spokesman indicated that he would not feel the need to wait until the resolution of existing investigations to act if the circumstances warranted.
“Obviously he would act if and when he felt it was appropriate to do so,” the spokesman said.
Sir Gavin’s newly revealed ministerial responsibilities include the Geospatial Commission, the Government Communications Service and the ‘Great Campaign’ to promote the UK.
“After a week of appalling allegations of bullying behavior towards colleagues, the Prime Minister has rewarded Williamson by giving him authority over huge parts of the public service,” said Deputy Labor Leader Angela Rayner.
The Prime Minister has come under sustained pressure over his decision to bring his ally back into government, despite being aware of Ms Morton’s complaint.
The Times, which first revealed it had taken its complaint to Parliament’s independent Complaints and Complaints Scheme, said it made the move because of fears of a “whitewash” by the Conservative Party.
In a series of profanity-laced texts, Sir Gavin accused Ms Morton of trying to “punish” MPs in favor of then-Prime Minister Liz Truss by barring them from the Queen’s funeral, warning: “There is a price for anything”.
The Liberal Democrats have called for an independent inquiry into Sir Gavin’s behavior so the Tories do not “mark their own homework”.
Sir Gavin, who was knighted after being nominated for the honor by Boris Johnson earlier this year, is a divisive figure at Westminster, where he is viewed with suspicion by many Tory MPs because of his reputation as a hardened plotter.
He was sacked first by former prime minister Theresa May as defense secretary in 2019 for leaking details of a National Security Council meeting, and then by Mr Johnson as education secretary over the A-levels debacle Of Covid-19.
However, he was considered a key figure in Sunak’s summer campaign to become party leader.