Sir Gavin Williamson announced his resignation over Twitter on Tuesday, giving up his position of Cabinet Office minister in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government. He had been accused of bullying several other senior officials, with much of the inquiry centered on expletive-laden texts he had sent to the Conservative Party’s chief whip over rumors that she had barred him from the Queen’s funeral. In his resignation letter, he denied the accusations but said he would step back in order to better comply with the investigation.
“I refute the characterization of these claims, but I recognize these are becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing for the British people,” Williamson wrote. “I have therefore decided to step back from the government so that I can comply with the complaints process that is underway and clear my name of any wrongdoing.”
Williamson’s texts to Wendy Morton, published in the Sunday Times, saw him use several expletives in his condemnation of Morton, who denied blocking him from the royal funeral. He told her not to “puss me about,” and asked her not to bother “asking anything from me.” He also said her conduct was “absolutely disgusting.”
“Well let’s see how many more times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything,” he said, appearing to threaten her.
Morton complained to authorities over Williamson’s conduct, saying his behavior toward her amounted to “bullying and intimidation.”
“I do not make this complaint lightly and wish for my name to be kept anonymous, however, his messaging to me falls far below the standard of what should be expected of anyone in public office,” she wrote in her complaint.
Williamson had previously apologized for the texts, telling the Sunday Times, “I of course regret getting frustrated about the way colleagues and I felt we were being treated. I am happy to speak with Wendy and I hope to work positively with her in the future as I have in the past.”
More severe bullying allegations emerged during the investigation, including a Ministry of Defense official who claimed Williamson had repeatedly encouraged him to kill himself, telling him to “slit your throat,” according to the Guardian, and to “jump out of a window” on another occasion.
Williamson’s appointment to Sunak’s Cabinet sparked controversy, as he was already under investigation for bullying at the time of his appointment, according to the BBC.