Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

Gavin Williamson guilty of bullying over demands for ticket to Queen’s funeral

Gavin Williamson resigns from Cabinet

Senior Tory MP Sir Gavin Williamson has been dealt a major blow this morning, as Parliament’s top behaviour watchdog declared him guilty of bullying.

The ruling came months after it emerged Sir Gavin sent furious text messages to Liz Truss’s then-Chief Whip Wendy Morton, about him failing to be allocated tickets to the funeral of the Queen.

Sir Gavin accused Ms Morton, and the Government, of deliberately refusing to allocate tickets to the historic event because of political disloyalty.

He included phrases such as: “Don’t forget I know how this works so don’t puss [sic] me about.”

He also texted Ms Morton: “Its very clear how you are going to treat a number of us which is very stupid and you are showing f**k all interest in pulling things together. Don’t bother asking anything from me.

READ MORE: Gavin Williamson texts ‘raise very serious questions’ about Tory Party

“Well lets see how many more times you f**k us all over. There is a price for everything.”

The commissioner concluded that his text messages were “offensive and intimidating behaviour”, but an initial ruling said they did not amount to an abuse or misuse of power and it was not reasonable to describe them as bullying.

However a reviewing panel said this conclusion war wrong and Sir Gavin’s messages were “an abuse of power”.

“His conduct had gone beyond vigorous complaint or political disagreement to a threat to lever his power and authority as a former Chief Whip to undermine her personally as revenge for her (as he saw it) denying him a ticket to the funeral.”

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The complainant’s perception that this was bullying was reasonable, and the Commissioner’s finding that instead the texts were an “unprofessional expression of anger” went “against the weight of the evidence and is not supported by any explanation.”

Mr Williamson argued that his behaviour did not amount to an abuse or misuse of power, and stated that “leveraging one’s experience and non-compliance are routine behaviours within political life”.

He also maintained he had a lack of authority compared to Ms Morton at the time of the furious exchange, as he was a backbencher.

Ms Morton complained about the text messages to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme in November 2022, shortly before Sir Gavin resigned from Mr Sunak’s Government in order to “clear my name of any wrongdoing”. 

The IEP panel determined that Sir Gavin will have to make an unreserved apology on the floor of the House, and undertake “appropriate behaviour training”. 

They report that Sir Gavin has accepted the ruling. 

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