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Britain PM Theresa Sacks Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson Over Huawei Leak

Penny Mordaunt has been appointed Defence Secretary

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LAHORE MIRROR (Monitoring Desk)– UK Premier Theresa May has sacked Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson following an inquiry into a leak linking Huawei from a top-level National Security Council meeting.

The prime minister had “lost confidence in his ability to serve” and Penny Mordaunt will now take on the role, Downing Street said on Wednesday.

The inquiry followed reports over a plan to allow Huawei limited access to help build the UK’s new 5G network.

Mr Williamson, who has been defence secretary since 2017, “strenuously” denies leaking the information.

In a meeting with Mr Williamson on Wednesday evening, Theresa May told him she had information that provided “compelling evidence” that he was responsible for the unauthorised disclosure.

In a letter confirming his dismissal, she said: “No other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified.”

Responding in a letter to the PM, Mr Williamson said he was “confident” that a “thorough and formal inquiry” would have “vindicated” his position.

“I appreciate you offering me the option to resign, but to resign would have been to accept that I, my civil servants, my military advisers or my staff were responsible: this was not the case,” he said.

The inquiry into the National Security Council leak began after the Daily Telegraph reported on the Huawei decision and subsequent warnings within cabinet about possible risks to national security over a deal with Huawei.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the prime minister had no alternative but to sack Mr Williamson, but he said on a personal level he was “very sorry about what happened”.

When asked whether there should be a criminal inquiry into the NSC leak, new defence secretary Ms Mordaunt said: “The prime minister has made her decision.

“What I’m focused on is getting on with the job.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has called for a police inquiry to investigate whether or not Mr Williamson breached the Official Secrets Act.

Lib Dems leader Vince Cable said Mr Williamson’s sacking was “absolutely extraordinary” and the PM did it in “such a forthright way”.

He added that he believed it was “clearly a police matter”. His deputy, Jo Swinson, has asked the police to open an investigation.

But Scotland Yard said in a statement that it was a matter for the National Security Council and the Cabinet Office, and it was not carrying out an investigation.

Defence Committee chairman Julian Lewis told the BBC that Mr Williamson’s sacking was a “loss” when looked at “purely” from the point of view of defence.

He said he thought “very highly” of Ms Mordaunt – the first woman to take the role of defence secretary.

Rory Stewart has been confirmed as the new international development secretary, taking over from Ms Mordaunt.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS