PM's spokesman refuses to say if Theresa May has full confidence in Michael Fallon as Westminster scandal gathers pace

Catherine Neilan
Follow Catherine
Conservative Defence Minister Michael Fallon Addresses The Trident Nuclear Issue
Fallon has already apologised for the incident, which took place in 2002 (Source: Getty)

The Prime Minister's spokesman has dodged questions about her confidence in one of her ministers for the second day in a row, as the Westminster sexual harassment scandal gathers pace.

This morning defence secretary Michael Fallon was identified as the MP who inappropriately touched talkRADIO journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer in 2002.

Fallon has apologised for the incident, which Hartley-Brewer has also dismissed, saying: "No one was remotely upset or distressed by it. My knees remain intact."

Hartley-Brewer has also argued that focusing on this "mildly amusing" incident detracts from more serious claims of harassment or assault, saying "I have not been a victim and I don't wish to take part in what I believe is now a Westminster witch hunt."

Given this, Downing Street confirmed there would be no investigation into Fallon.

However, the spokesman repeatedly avoid saying if Theresa May had full confidence in her defence minister, saying instead: "I am not providing a running commentary."

On a general note, he said May has confidence in her government and her ministers

The spokesman took a similar position yesterday on trade minister Mark Garnier, who has admitted asking his secretary to buy a sex toy, pending the outcome of an investigation.

But while yesterday he said that Garnier was the sole subject of any investigation, today he refused to confirm that was still the case.

It follows a debate yesterday afternoon by MPs to the extent of sexual misconduct within Westminster, with Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom committing to introducing new measures to make it easier for victims to come forward.

Related articles