Rishi Sunak 'was told of bullying claims against Gavin Williamson days before hiring him'

The former chairman of the Conservative Party has said he told Rishi Sunak a bullying complaint had been made against Cabinet Office minister Sir Gavin Williamson days before he appointed him to the job.

Sir Jake Berry says he informed the incoming PM about the allegations a day before he entered Number 10.

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It's alleged Sir Gavin sent abusive text messages to former chief whip Wendy Morton complaining that he and other colleagues had been excluded from the Queen's funeral for political reasons.

Screenshots leaked to The Sunday Times appear to show expletive-laden messages from the South Staffordshire MP, including a warning that "there is a price for everything".

Another message reads "think very poor how [Privy Councillors] who aren't favoured have been excluded from the funeral".

A source confirmed to Sky News the contents of the messages were accurate.

In a statement, former Conservative Party chairman Sir Jake Berry said: "On Monday 24th October, I was made aware, by the chief executive of the Conservative Party, that a complaint had been made to the Conservative Party against Gavin Williamson regarding allegations of bullying and intimidation of parliamentary colleagues.

"In compliance with protocol, in my capacity as party chairman, I informed both the new prime minister and his incoming chief of staff about the complaint on the same day."

Sir Gavin has been approached for comment.

The Sunday Times quoted the Cabinet Office minister as saying: "I of course regret getting frustrated about the way colleagues and I felt we were being treated. I am happy to speak with Wendy and I hope to work positively with her in the future as I have in the past."

Sir Gavin facing calls for third cabinet sacking

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper accused Mr Sunak of ignoring the complaint and called for Sir Gavin to be sacked.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "Rishi Sunak's pledge to restore integrity, professionalism, and accountability has been exposed as nothing more than hollow words. Far from stopping the rot in Downing Street, he's letting it fester."

Downing Street has said it will not be commenting.

A Conservative Party Spokesman said: "The Conservative Party has a robust complaints process in place. This process is rightly a confidential one, so that complainants can come forward in confidence."

Sir Gavin's previous sackings

Sir Gavin was sacked as defence secretary in 2019 following the leaking of confidential information from the National Security Council.

After being appointed education secretary by Boris Johnson, he was dismissed from cabinet again in 2021 following controversy around the grading of exams during the pandemic.

It marks the second major controversy to erupt over Mr Sunak's cabinet appointments, with the PM already under fire for making Suella Braverman his home secretary days after she was sacked for security breaches.