I am greatly disturbed by the sacking of the defence secretary Gavin Williamson. I do not know the man, never met him or spoken to him, but his very public sacking by the Prime Minister Theresa May is to me very sinister.
The meeting of the National Security Council about letting the Chinese company Huawei build the next G5 telephone systems and security was obviously a very serious issue. The fact that a questionable company from China is being asked, contracted with or employed to take the lead on our systems in this way is a topic for another blog.
The security and secrecy of wh,at takes place in the NSC must be adhered to. The Official Secrets Act, it appears is clearly out of date and not fit for purpose anymore. The punishments for betraying and defying the OSA clearly are not a significant deterrent. It needs reviewing as soon as possible.
The very fact that leaks from within government departments happen make one wonder what the hell is going on. Some of course are leaked as a positive means to feed out slowly controversial ideas or policies to test the water. Bad news days are used to cloud and hide such news when bigger breaking news happens. It is all just dishonest and underhand.
Williamson by all reports had the job he wanted as secretary of defence. He was also by all accounts well thought of and respected by the armed services, not many secretaries of defence can make that claim in the past. So, one can empathise with his distress and anger at what has taken place.
Let us be honest here: his political career is over, he is finished. Any thoughts of leading his party and the country from Number 10: gone. Even if he clears his name, he cannot possibly harbour any thoughts of high office any more.
The sacking by letter has left him guilty without trial, no recourse to attempt to clear his name. Asked three times by Sky News Beth Rigby, the Prime minister refused to say whether or not Gavin Williamson could have sight of the report into the enquiry that found him guilty. To Williamsons credit he has admitted to an eleven-minute phone call with the telegraph post the NSC meeting but is adamant that this conversation was not about Huawei. He has even gone as far as to “swear on his children’s lives” that he did not leak. He has also welcomed an investigation by the police. These are all very strong advocations that he is innocent.
Questions arising from this are many: has the enquiry, lead by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who apparently and by all accounts has an axe to grind with Mr Williamson, spoken to the journalist that Williamson spoke to for eleven minutes and asked for his or her version of events? Why won’t Mrs May allow Williamson to have sight of the report resulting from the enquiry? Bear in mind this report is the catalyst for this man’s reputation and career being turned into dust.
There are a lot of suggestions that Sedwill was pointing the finger at Williamson before the enquiry began. If there is a relationship problem between the two men, then can it be right that Sedwill was appointed to be witchfinder general?
Dominic Fortescue, the Government Chief Security Officer, was despatched to Scotland to see Williamson who was on holiday. Williamson offered to hand over all telephone records, emails and messaging records but on being asked to sign a consent form, Williamson was questioning why a cabinet minister was being asked to do so and asked for more time.
This was referred to thinly in the sacking letter claiming that Williamson`s “conduct had not been of the same standard as others”
This has to be a wow part of the story: can it be that as he asked for more time to consider signing a consent form, whilst offering up all his records Gavin Williamson signed his own death warrant? Is all that they have as evidence enough to ruin this man?
When asked subsequently if she was “certain” that Williamson was responsible for leaking information from the National Security Council, the Prime Minister avoided answering directly and said instead, “she made the right decision”.
There is also lurking underneath this story the allegation that Williamson was hung out to dry as a pay back for arguing very strongly against and refusing to sign up to the British Armed forces becoming part of the bigger EU army. As to the truth of this matter, who knows – but the story is still there.
Whatever the reasoning for the ruination of this man, it is brutal and uncompromising. It would appear to this ex-investigator that the flimsiest of evidence is available. The Met Police have refused to get involved in the case, it is not, apparently, a matter for the Police that someone has allegedly committed an act of treason against this country by leaking information from the National Security Council to the press. One wonders nowadays just what crime one has to commit before the Met Police will tear themselves away from looking at social media looking for hurty words and thoughts.
I feel for this fella, there is no way back, his only recourse is a speech in the commons similar to that of Geoffrey Howe regarding Margaret Thatcher. Let us not forget, that as May`s leadership campaign manager and the party chief whip, this man definitely will know where the bodies are buried.