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UK's fired defense minister denies Huawei leak

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UK's fired defense minister denies Huawei leak

UK's fired defense minister denies Huawei leak

After being fired by the British Prime Minister, defense minister Gavin Williamson strenuously denied he was involved in the leak from a meeting of the National Security Council, as several lawmakers demand a criminal investigation into whether secrecy laws were broken.

Mia Womersley reports

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UK's fired defense minister denies Huawei leak

The UK defense secretary has strenuously denied he was involved in leaking a controversial national security decision about Huawei to the press.

Gavin Williamson was fired by the Prime Minister on Wednesday (May 1) night.

And now some lawmakers are demanding a criminal investigation into whether secrecy laws were broken.

News broke last week in a British newspaper that the UK would allow the Chinese telecoms and mobile phone giant to build parts of the country's 5G network... Despite the objections of allies including the U.S. and Australia.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she had received 'compelling evidence' against the minister - something he's denied.

Reuters Alistair Smout is following the story.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, ALISTAIR SMOUT, SAYING: "The leak has significance in a number of ways, from a geo political context, it came at a time when Britain was going to take a different tack with Huawei to some of its major western allies who wanted to be more hardline.

So for it to come out in the newspapers doesn't look particularly good for the British government.

And domestically obviously as well it has forced Theresa May to fire what has been one of her closest allies and is now going to be one of her most vocal critics on the back benches." May gave Williamson the opportunity to resign but he refused.

And so the Prime Minister ousted him - a contrast to the recent cabinet resignations she has endured.

Underlining just how seriously her team treated the leak from the National Security Council.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, ALISTAIR SMOUT, SAYING: "In a way she has been able to take this by the horns and shown herself to be quite strong.

At the other side of things she has made herself potentially quite a powerful enemy on the back benches and we have seen other backbenchers come out in support of Gavin Williamson and say that he should be given the opportunity to clear his name." The police have said they will only open a criminal investigation if the cabinet office asks.

The government has said it will not.

Huawei has been at the center of fierce debate by officials in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. over concerns that the company is too close to the Chinese government.

And could allow a backdoor for Chinese spies into communications networks.

Huawei has always flatly denied being involved in any kind of espionage operation.




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