I don’t know whether Gavin Williamson actually leaked the story about Huawei to the media or not – he says no, Theresa May says yes. Selecting which to believe when neither are famous for having more than a passing acquaintance with the truth isn’t the easiest of tasks. I’d like to believe that the real culprit was the Chancellor, not on the basis of any evidence or facts, but simply because there would be a juicy irony involved. It can’t have been completely unhelpful for the Chancellor’s trade mission to Beijing for it to emerge the day before that the UK Government was softening its position on using a Chinese supplier – and if he could finger the man who got his last trip to China scuttled by threatening to send an aircraft carrier to the Pacific, then all the better. Sadly, that would require a degree of cunning and planning of which no current minister seems capable.
I also don’t know whether a crime has been committed or not; leaking information from a confidential meeting doesn’t necessarily mean a breach of the Official Secrets Act has been committed if the information leaked was not, in itself, an official secret. It is, though, surely unrealistic for anyone to think that even Theresa May is going to be daft enough to allow a police investigation into the matter when such an investigation would inevitably reveal more about the dysfunctional nature of the UK Government.
I don’t think that the process followed has been entirely fair, let alone open and transparent. On the one hand, the PM said in her letter that she had “compelling evidence” of his guilt, but on the other she said that “No other credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified”. That’s a standard of ‘proof’ which no court or tribunal would ever be likely to accept. Unless of course, she put Chris Grayling in charge of Justice, in which case anything would be possible.
What I do know, however, is that there is something very unusual about the idea that a person who has been subject to instant dismissal for gross misconduct should be awarded three months’ salary as a payoff, and that a man sacked for revealing details of one of the most secret of meetings should be allowed to remain a member of the Privy Council where secrets are routinely shared. In what other walk of life would that happen?