10:31 GMT14 June 2021
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    On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated that the United Kingdom and its businesses should exercise a certain degree of caution in cooperation with Chinese companies, such as Huawei, as they allegedly could be a threat to national security.

    Compelling evidence indicating that UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was behind the Huawei leak led to Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to sack the high-profile official, Theresa May's office said on Wednesday.

    At the same time, the British government has appointed Penny Mordaunt as the new defence secretary.

    "The Prime Minister has this evening asked Gavin Williamson to leave the government, having lost confidence in his ability to serve in the role of Defence Secretary and as a member of her Cabinet," according to her official spokesman.

    READ MORE: China to UK Amid 5G Leak Row: Don't Discriminate Against Huawei

    The spokesman specified that May's decision has been informed by Williamson's "conduct surrounding an investigation into the circumstances of the unauthorised disclosure of information from a meeting of the National Security Council."

    Later in the day, Gavin Williamson reacted to the prime minister's office statements saying that he categorically denies that he was complicit in the Huawei leak.

    "I am sorry that you feel that recent leaks from the National Security Council originated in my Department. I emphatically believe this was not the case. I strenuously deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a through and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position," Williamson wrote in a letter to May.

    The decision to sack the official comes after earlier this week UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the United Kingdom and its businesses, saying that they should exercise a certain degree of caution when cooperating with Chinese companies, such as Huawei, as they allegedly could be a threat to national security.

    However, this follows earlier reports that UK Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly endorsed Huawei's partial participation in the building of Britain's future 5G mobile phone network.

    Huawei has been accused by several countries of being sponsored by the Chinese state and spying on its behalf through its devices. Last year, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States banned the company from participating in government contracts due to security concerns. Huawei has vehemently denied the accusations.


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