London [UK]: British Prime Minister Theresa May sacked the country’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson on Wednesday (local time) following an inquiry into the leak of news that the UK government was preparing to give Huawei access to develop country’s 5G network.
“The Prime Minister has this evening asked Gavin Williamson to leave the government, having lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of Defense Secretary and as a member of her Cabinet,” CNN quoted a government spokesperson, as saying.
In a letter posted on his official Twitter handle, Williamson “strenuously” denied being the source of the leak, adding that he chose not to accept May’s offer for him to resign because it would have suggested that he was guilty.
“I am sorry that you feel recent leaks from the National Security Council originated in my Department. I emphatically believe this was not the case. I strongly deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position,” Williamson wrote in the letter.
“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 added.
The story, which was leaked by the Daily Telegraph earlier, holds prominence as the United States has alleged that Huawei’s products could be used by Chinese intelligence agencies, and hence posed a risk to national security. The US has also warned its allies against using Huawei technology.
The telecom company has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations. While Australia has already barred its equipment from the country’s 5G networks, Huawei fought hard to convince the UK that its products are safe for use.
In a letter to Williamson, May wrote that the matter was “extremely serious”, and a “deeply disappointing one.”
“It is vital that I have full confidence in the members of my Cabinet and of the National Security Council. The gravity of this issue alone, and its ramifications for the operation of the NSC and the UK’s national interest, warrants the serious steps we have taken, and an equally serious response,” wrote May.