British defense minister Michael Fallon steps down from office after admitting to sexually harassing a journalist 15 years ago.
“A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct,” Fallon, who was one of Prime Minister Theresa May’s staunchest allies, wrote in his letter of resignation.
“I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defense Secretary,” he said.
According to radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer, Fallon repeatedly touched her knee during a conference dinner in 2002. She considered the incident “mildly amusing”, but at the time had threatened to punch him if he attempted to touch her again.
In his letter, Fallon, said there had been many allegations about lawmakers, including “some about my previous conduct”.
“Many of these have been false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honor to represent,” he said, offering no detail on the nature of any other allegations.
He continued on to say that standards which were acceptable 10 years ago are no longer permissible and the Prime Minister has made it clear she wants parliamentary staff to feel safe in Westminster. The investigations into these allegations will apply to “all of us”, he said, subtly hinting at the number of other accusations which have risen in the last few weeks.
So far, three other parliamentary ministers have also been implicated in a host of serious allegations, including cabinet member, Damian Green, however, Fallon is the first to resign.
May replied to the former defense minister in a letter saying she appreciated “the characteristically serious manner” in which Fallon had considered his position and “the particular example you wish to set to servicemen and women and others”. Thursday morning, the Prime Minister appointed Gavin Williamson as his successor.
Members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said the first high-profile resignation in the scandal showed it was time for reform at the 800-year-old parliament, where power is concentrated in lawmakers’ hands and wielded, often unchecked, over junior aides.
The most recent claims released Wednesday include two assault allegations from both a male and female parliament employees concerning various politicians as well as a failed attempt to drug a woman with a “date rape” substance inside one of Parliament’s bars.
The prime minister, who has long championed the careers of female lawmakers, said on Wednesday that action would be taken when there were allegations and evidence of sexual misconduct.