The inquiry into the leak of sensitive material from the National Security Council was carried out “fairly”, Downing Street has insisted.
Two days after the dramatic dismissal of Gavin Williamson as defence secretary, press reports quoted sources close to the former minister describing the investigation as “slipshod” and “rushed”.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who led the probe, asking him to provide information about its outcome.
Mr Williamson has strenuously denied being behind the disclosure of details of an NSC discussion on the involvement of Chinese tech giant Huawei in the development of the UK’s 5G telecommunications network.
The Daily Telegraph quoted sources close to the South Staffordshire MP as saying that the only evidence produced against him was the fact that he had spoken to one of its journalists and that he had failed to sign a form promising full co-operation with the inquiry.
But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The investigation was conducted fairly by officials operating impartially.”
The chairwoman of Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Dame Margaret Beckett, wrote to Sir Mark – who is also Prime Minister Theresa May’s National Security Adviser – seeking information on the inquiry.
“The committee notes your ongoing inquiry into the leak of the National Security Council’s decision on the use of Huawei in the UK’s 5G telecommunications network,” wrote Dame Margaret.
We have today published 2 letters to Government on:
• Implications of Sri Lanka terror attacks, the NSC leak inquiry –https://t.co/BhMIMygqNp
— Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (@JointCtteNSS) May 3, 2019
“As this directly pertains to our work in scrutinising the NSC, the Committee would like to be apprised of the outcomes of this leak inquiry once it is complete.”
The Downing Street spokeswoman declined to say whether Sir Mark’s findings were communicated verbally to Mrs May or in a written report.
Opposition parties have called for the PM to refer the case to police, so that a criminal investigation can be launched into whether Mr Williamson breached the Official Secrets Act.
But it is understood that Sir Mark found that the information leaked was not of a classification level which would make its disclosure a criminal act.