Tory MP refers Gavin Williamson bullying complaint to Parliamentary watchdog

Gavin Williamson is being independently investigated after Tory MP Wendy Morton passed on his allegation of abusive messages to a parliamentary watchdog.

The former Chief Whip complained to the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS), The Independent understand.

Mr Williamson sent Ms Morton WhatsApp messages in which he claimed she tried to ‘fuck us all over the place’ for lack of an invitation to the Queen’s funeral.

Ms Morton reportedly took the matter to the ICGS because she fears ‘whitewashing’ by Conservative Party officials, who launched inquiries when the initial complaint was made.

Rishi Sunak is coming under increasing pressure over his decision to bring Mr Williamson back into government, with a senior Ministry of Defense (MoD) official saying The Guardian he told them to “cut their throats” and “jump out the window”.

Sir Gavin, sacked as Defense Secretary in 2019, issued a statement denying the general allegations in the latest report – but did not specifically deny using the alleged language.

“I strongly reject this allegation and have had a good working relationship with the many brilliant public servants I have worked with across government,” he said. “No specific allegations were ever brought to my attention.”

The newspaper said the Defense Ministry official, who later left government, raised the alleged incidents with the department’s human resources chief. But it was understood the Cabinet Office’s property and ethics team had not received a formal complaint about Sir Gavin’s conduct.

Cabinet Minister Mel Stride said it would be ‘totally, utterly unacceptable’ if the minister under fire told a senior civil servant to ‘cut his throat’.

Sir Gavin apologized for sending abusive messages to a colleague during Tuesday morning’s cabinet meeting, his colleague Grant Shapps has said.

Asked if Mr Williamson was a bully, the Business Secretary told reporters: ‘Not in my experience. Obviously he shouldn’t have sent these (messages), he admitted it and he apologized for it.

Speaking about the alleged ‘cut your throat’ comments, he added: ‘I don’t think there’s been an official complaint, so let’s wait and see what’s out there.

Asked about the pet tarantula Mr Williamson kept in his office when he was chief whip, Mr Stride said: ‘The reality with Cronus is that he’s been touted a lot, but he hasn’t never been released to bite anyone.”

Labor Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said there was a ‘lack of proper standards’ in the Sunak government, as evidenced by the appointments of Sir Gavin and the Secretary of State to inside Suella Braverman.

One of the claims of ‘cutting your throat’, Ms Cooper told BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “He does not deny having used the language. The language is horrible and you can’t imagine people being treated like that at work.

On Ms Morton’s referral of her complaint to the ICGS, Labor chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: ‘The lack of trust in the Conservative Party’s complaints process shows how rotten the culture at the heart of this party is – and the responsibility stops with Rishi Sunak.

Former Tory Speaker Jake Berry said he told Mr Sunak the day he took over as Tory leader that Ms Morton had filed a formal complaint about the posts.

Mr Sunak – who insisted he was unaware of the details of the WhatsApp exchange – said on Tuesday he had been “very clear that the language is not correct”, but said urged patience in the Tories’ internal investigation before “judging”.

Former Tory cabinet minister Baroness Morgan said she had ‘run-ins’ with Mr Williamson when he was Theresa May’s chief whip, adding: ‘None of this surprises me, unfortunately. “

She told TalkTV on Monday: “Unfortunately Gavin has a reputation, it’s not a very good reputation, and I really don’t know why Rishi Sunak felt he had to bring him back to government.”

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