Former whip director Wendy Morton cited an allegation that Sir Gavin Williamson sent “insulting” messages to her for an independent investigation by a parliamentary watchdog.
The Minister of the Cabinet Office has facing an internal Conservative Party investigation about a series of threatening messages allegedly sent to Mrs Morton complaining he had been excluded from the Queen’s funeral.
But now, the Independent Complaints and Complaints Program will also look into the allegations.
Sir Gavin, who protested at the time the messages were allegedly sent, accused Ms Morton of using the monarch’s death to “punish” senior MPs who did not support Liz Truss’ government.
The messages, originally obtained by The Sunday Times, conclude with Sir Gavin: “See how many more times you **** us all over. There’s a price to everything.”
Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry has claimed he told Chancellor Rishi Sunak that Ms Morton had filed a formal complaint about Sir Gavin’s conduct the day before he entered Number 10.
On Sunday, Cabinet Office Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday’s program that Mr Sunak knew there was a “tough relationship” between Sir Gavin and Ms Morton, but “didn’t know” about it “specific allegations”.
Yesterday the Prime Minister told broadcasters it was “right” for an independent complaints investigation to be carried out into allegations of bullying to be carried out again Sir Gavin “before any decision is made”. any decision about the future”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added that Mr Sunak had complete confidence in him.
Responding to Ms Morton’s referral of her complaint against Sir Gavin to the Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Complaints Scheme, the Labor Party’s Chairwoman, Anneliese Dodds, said: “The lack of confidence in the process Conservative Party complaints show that the culture at the heart of this party plays out – and the money stops with Rishi Sunak.
“He was alerted to Gavin Williamson’s conduct and appointed him.
The Guardian has reported that Sir Gavin is also alleged to have told a senior civil servant to “cut your throat” when he was Defense Secretary.
The latest allegations come as Mr Sunak faces growing pressure over Sir Gavin’s position.
A former Ministry of Defense official told the Guardian that Sir Gavin also told them to “jump out of the window”, in what they felt was constant bullying campaign.
According to the newspaper, the civil servant, who later left the government, said that Sir Gavin “deliberately demeaned and intimidated” them on a regular basis.
But in a statement, Sir Gavin said: “I strongly deny this allegation and have a good working relationship with many of the outstanding officials I have worked with in government.
“No specific allegations have been brought to my attention.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride told Sky News earlier today it will “totally unacceptable” if Sir Gavin makes the alleged remark.
“If that’s the case then that’s completely unacceptable, but it’s currently within the realm of media speculation,” he said.
Mr Stride said he had served in the Whips Office under Sir Gavin, and viewed him as someone who had a “kind of aura or mysticism around him”.
“There’s always this wonderful aura… do you remember Cronus, spiderman, tarantula, etc? And the reality with Cronus is that he was heavily touted but he was never really released to bite anyone,” he told Kay Burley.
“So that’s how I’ve always seen Gavin – as someone who has that kind of aura or mysticism around him, but the reality is that he’s generally just continued his work.”
Mr Stride said he “wouldn’t speculate on anyone’s future”, but when asked if he believed Mr. Gavin will still be a Cabinet Office Secretary by Christmas, adding: “I doubt the answer to that is yes.”
While the senior civil servant making the allegation is said to have reported the incident informally to the head of human resources, they decided not to file a formal complaint.
However, they said a senior military aide working in the department later apologized to them for not speaking out about his behaviour.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Cabinet Office has not been informed of any formal complaints about Gavin Williamson’s conduct since his time at the Department of Defense or any other any other set.”
Speaking to reporters upon arrival at a cabinet meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday morning, Business Secretary Grant Shapps said Sir Gavin had apologized for sending abusive messages to a colleague.
When asked if Sir Gavin was a bully, Shapps said: “Not in my experience. Obviously he shouldn’t have sent those[messages]he realized it and He’s sorry about that.”
Speaking of comments that were said to “slit your throat”, he added: “I don’t think there is an official complaint, so let’s wait and see what is said about that.”
Sir Gavin served as defense minister from November 2017 until May 2019, but was sacked by then Prime Minister Theresa May for repeatedly leaking information from the government.
He was re-hired by Boris Johnson as education secretary two months later, but was again ousted in September 2021 after much criticism over his handling of the brief during the COVID pandemic.
Mr. Sunak brought him back into government two weeks ago as Cabinet Office Minister, who also attended the cabinet.