Schools across the country will be taking part in an annual Anti-Bullying Week from November 14-18 – and it seems to have arrived a little earlier for accused Minister Without Portfolio Gavin Williamson.
The week’s events are based around a theme of reaching out to somebody you trust for help against bullying.
The publicity material states: “Whether it’s in school, at home, in the community or online, let’s reach out and show each other the support we need. Reach out to someone you trust if you need to talk.
“it doesn’t stop with young people. From teachers to parents and influencers to politicians, we all have a responsibility to help each other reach out.”
It seems someone in Westminster has already taken this advice – as it relates to politicians – and reached out with new accusations against Williamson.
According to the BBC,
Sir Gavin told a senior civil servant to “slit your throat” and “jump out of the window” when he was defence secretary.
An unnamed official told the Guardian Sir Gavin, who is now a Cabinet Office minister in Rishi Sunak’s government, “deliberately demeaned and intimidated” them.
The official said they raised concerns to the Ministry of Defence’s human resources department but made no formal complaint.
Williamson has not denied using the language mentioned in the accusation.
But he has issued a statement: “I strongly reject this allegation and have enjoyed good working relationships with the many brilliant officials I have worked with across government.
“No specific allegations have ever been brought to my attention.”
Others appear to have already formed their own conclusions. Professor Tim Wilson’s is persuasive:
“He has no idea of the connection between the things he says and the meaning they have.
“There seems to be a gap between what people say and what they think they mean, so people are quite free with their stories and their fantasies and their threats and they don’t realise that these are taken seriously by the people who hear them.”
In fact, this may be an extremely charitable appraisal!
But Prof Wilson does go on to say that Williamson isn’t the only person in Westminster indulging in offensive language: “This is a culture of nastiness; it’s a culture of bullying and it needs to be exposed and rooted out.
“Every minister tainted with bullying needs to go.”
In an interview with Kay Burley on Sky News, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride may have made matters worse by referring to Cronus, the Tarantula spider that Williamson kept in his office when he was Tory Chief Whip.
He said the threat was there but Williamson had never released the arachnid to bite anybody – which seems unhelpful against allegations of bullying:
It is good to note that an investigation into Williamson’s words to Wendy Morton (another now-former Chief Whip) are now the subject of an official investigation, which This Writer understands is being overseen by the Independent Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone.
She’s the official who Boris Johnson wanted to de-fang and force to resign after Owen Paterson was accused of corruption late last year.
Let us hope she performs her duty to the limits of her ability to do so.
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