Gavin Williamson has resigned as a government minister after allegations of bullying, saying he aims to clear himself of “any wrongdoing”.
Sir Gavin Williamson has resigned from the Cabinet after a series of bullying accusations were made against him, including allegedly telling an aide to “slit your throat”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Sir Gavin as Minister of State without Portfolio after arriving in No10 last month.
He said he “refuted” how his “past conduct” had been characterised.
However, he said the claims had become a distraction from the government’s “good work”.
He added he would comply with a complaints process concerning messages he sent a colleague, and that he had apologised to the recipient.
In his resignation letter, he said he was leaving government with “real sadness” but offered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak his “full and total support from the backbenchers”.
Williamson had become under increasing pressure since a series of expletive-laden text messages sent by him to Tory colleague and then-Chief Whip Wendy Morton were published on Sunday.
And on Monday a senior civil servant told the Guardian Sir Gavin Williamson had bullied them and told them to “slit your throat”.
Earlier, Downing Street said it had been seeking to establish the facts about the reported comments.
Williamson had also been reported to the MPs’ bullying watchdog over his WhatsApps to Ms Morton.
In them, he appears to complain MPs not “favoured” by then-Prime Minister Liz Truss were being excluded from attending the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Over the weekend, leaked messages from Sir Gavin Williamson to Wendy Morton, the Tories’ Chief Whip under Liz Truss, showed him accusing her of using the Queen’s death to “punish” senior MPs who were out of favour with the leadership.
A leaked exchange of expletive-ridden messages concluded with him saying: “Well let’s see how many more times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything.”
Speaking on Monday, Mr Sunak said the language was “not acceptable” but asked if it amounted to bullying, he said it was “right” to let an independent complaints process conclude.
The resignation will raise questions about Mr Sunak’s judgement after he brought Sir Gavin back into Government – despite the Tory MP being sacked by both Theresa May and Boris Johnson in recent years.
In quitting, shamed Sir Gavin Williamson, meanwhile, will be able to pocket a £17k golden handshake, more than six times what he earned on the job.
It emerged on Tuesday one ex-Ministry of Defence official, who alleged Williamson had told them “jump out of the window” while Defence Secretary, reported the senior Tory to the parliamentary authorities for investigation.
In a statement, the former civil servant said:”This was an incredibly difficult period for me. Gavin Williamson’s words and the actions had an extreme impact on my mental health.