Gavin Williamson retains Rishi Sunak's full support amid bullying claims

The Cabinet minister had sent a series of text messages to the ex-chief whip, accusing her of excluding some MPs from the Queen's funeral

Published Last updated

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak retains full confidence in Cabinet Office minister Sir Gavin Williamson following the emergence of threatening and abusive texts he sent to the former chief whip Wendy Morton, Downing Street said.

A series of text messages sent by Sir Gavin were published on Sunday.

Downing Street has confirmed that Rishi Sunak was aware of a complaint against the Cabinet minister when appointing him to the role, but had not yet seen the messages.

They have welcomed the fact that Sir Gavin has "expressed regret" over his actions.

Asked if the Prime Minister has full confidence in the Cabinet Office minister, the PM’s official spokesman said: “Yes.”

Gavin Williamson is under fire for alleged bullying.
Gavin Williamson is under fire for alleged bullying.

Pressed on why Sir Gavin is still in post if Mr Sunak views the texts he sent as unacceptable, he said: “Well, as you know, there is a process going on. I think, obviously, that’s run by the Conservative Party. So, it’s not one for me.

“I think the Prime Minister has said that it’s right to let that process happen and he welcomes that Gavin Williamson has expressed regret about those comments, which as you say he doesn’t think are acceptable.”

Downing Street added that Rishi Sunak believes Sir Gavin still has an "important contribution" to bring to Government.

Rishi Sunak is under fire for bringing Sir Gavin back into the Government despite being warned that he was under investigation for allegedly bullying former chief whip Wendy Morton.

The PM’s official spokesman said at the time Mr Sunak “knew there was a disagreement”, but was not aware of the “substance” of the messages.

Asked why he gave Sir Gavin a Government job, he said: “Obviously he thinks he has an important contribution to make to Government.”

Downing Street said the Prime Minister has a zero tolerance approach to bullying inside Government.

Asked if that is the case, the PM’s official spokesman said: “Yes.”

On whether Mr Sunak has spoken with either Sir Gavin Williamson or Wendy Morton since the matter came to light, he said he was “not aware” of any talks, but would not normally get into details of private conversations.