UK Defense Secretary quits over sexual harassment allegation

Lucy Bush
November 3, 2017

British defense minister Michael Fallon steps down from office after admitting to sexually harassing a journalist 15 years ago.

However, she later said she had not regarded the incident as "anything but mildly amusing", adding that she considered the matter closed.

"I doubt very much if one of the standards they require in the armed forces means that no man in the military has ever touched the knee of a younger woman".

The prominent journalist claimed Fallon "repeatedly put his hand on my knee" during a dinner at Conservative party conference and she "calmly and politely explained to him that, if he did it again, I would "punch him in the face".

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In a speech after winning the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year award, she said it was time to "clear the stables" in light of recent allegations, but said there was a need for some "pretty big shovels" to do it with.

Hartley-Brewer said she was "incredibly shocked" by Fallon's resignation and did not think his decision was based exclusively on the 2002 incident.

May replied 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".

Sir Michael's decision to quit came just hours after the Prime Minister invited Westminster's party leader to crisis talks next week regarding plans for tackling sexual abuse and harassment.

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"I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as defense secretary". He is replaced by chief whip Gavin Williamson.

Junior trade minister Mark Garnier is also under investigation for breaches of the ministerial code for asking his former secretary to buy him sex toys in 2010.

The prime minister said on Wednesday that action would be taken when there were allegations and evidence of sexual misconduct.

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