No crime committed in Huawei leak, police say

A leak of information from a top-secret meeting of the National Security Council about Chinese tech giant Huawei which cost Gavin Williamson his job did not amount to a criminal offence, the Metropolitan Police has said.

Mr Williamson, who was sacked as defence secretary over his alleged involvement in the disclosure, was among those to call for a criminal investigation, which he believed would “absolutely exonerate” him.

But Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he was “satisfied” that the details disclosed to the media did not “contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act”.

He said he had spoken to the Cabinet Office regarding the nature of the material discussed in the meeting and had taken legal advice.

“I am satisfied that the disclosure did not amount to a criminal offence, either under the Official Secrets Act or Misconduct in a Public Office. No crime has been committed and this is not a matter for the police,” Mr Basu said in a statement.

“Any organisation has the right to conduct an internal investigation into conduct in the workplace. It is not a matter for the police unless a crime is alleged.

“At no time have the police been provided with evidence by the Cabinet Office that a crime has been committed nor has it been suggested that a Gateway process would be required to enable that determination to be made.

Britain’s 5G network
Leaked reports of a meeting of the NSC last month suggested Mrs May had cleared Huawei to be involved in “non-core” elements of the 5G network (Steve Parsons/PA)

“No crime has been alleged by the owner of the material and I am clear that the leak did not cause damage to the public interest at a level at which it would be necessary to engage misconduct in a public office. It would be inappropriate to carry out a police investigation in these circumstances.”

Opposition parties had called on Mrs May to refer the matter to the police for a criminal investigation, after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Scotland Yard would not launch an inquiry unless the case is referred to them by the Government.

Leaked reports of a meeting of the National Security Council last month suggested that Theresa May had cleared Huawei to be involved in “non-core” elements of the 5G network, such as antennae.

Letter to Gavin Williamson
A letter written by Prime Minister Theresa May to Gavin Williamson (Downing Street/PA)

According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, Mrs May overruled five ministers who expressed concern that the company’s involvement might provide a route for Chinese spying and undermine allies’ confidence in the security of UK communications.

The PM told ITV News on Friday: “I did take a difficult decision. This was not about what was leaked, it was about where it was leaked from. It was the importance of the question of trust around that National Security Council table.”

Asked if she was convinced Mr Williamson was responsible for the leak of information about the NSC meeting, Mrs May said: “I took the decision that I did. That was the right decision.”

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