Sir Gavin Williamson should apologise to MPs for bullying a former chief whip after he was not allocated tickets to the late Queen’s funeral, Westminster’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has said.
He was forced to quit as a Cabinet Office minister just days into Rishi Sunak’s premiership last year over a series of expletive-laden messages to Wendy Morton.
The texts amounted to “offensive and intimidating behaviour”, the IEP said on Monday, as it concluded that Sir Gavin’s conduct was “an abuse of power, finding that it had gone beyond vigorous complaint or political disagreement to a threat to lever his power and authority as a former chief whip to undermine Ms Morton personally”.
The IEP said it had “considered carefully” whether he should face suspension from the Commons but had instead decided a “full and unreserved apology” was required.
Sir Gavin has accepted the IEP’s ruling that he should make a personal statement in the House of Commons and “appropriate behaviour training” to increase his awareness of the impact of bullying on others, the panel said.
The IEP’s report said Sir Gavin sent Ms Morton text messages after he did not receive an invitation to the funeral, which he attributed to his having not supported then-prime minister Liz Truss in the recent leadership election.
The exchange concluded with him saying: “Well, let’s see how many more times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything.”
Sir Gavin, who had already been twice sacked from the Cabinet in disgrace, bowed to pressure to resign as minister without portfolio last November after a number of allegations against him piled up.
As well as Ms Morton’s complaint, which related to Sir Gavin’s time as a backbench MP, he was alleged to have bullied a former official at the Ministry of Defence and was accused of “unethical and immoral” behaviour while he was chief whip.
Ms Morton complained to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, the parliamentary watchdog responsible for investigating complaints of inappropriate behaviour against MPs.
Published: by Radio NewsHub