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UK PM replaces defence secy amid sexual harassment allegations

UK PM replaces defence secy amid sexual harassment allegations
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London: Gavin Williamson, a close aide of Prime Minister Theresa May, was on Thursday appointed as Britain's new defence secretary after his predecessor Michael Fellon resigned amid a deepening sexual harassment scandal engulfing UK parliamentarians.

Fallon, 65, resigned as defence secretary saying his conduct may have fallen below the high standards expected amid revelations that he had made unwanted advances towards a journalist years ago.
He was replaced by 41-year-old Williamson, the MP for South Staffordshire, who has been responsible for exerting discipline over the prime minister's fractious parliamentary party since last year.
Williamson was closely involved in negotiating the confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist party that secured the parliamentary support May needed to govern in the aftermath of June's general election.
"A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct. Many of these have been false, but I accept in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent," Fallon said in his resignation letter to May.
It remains unclear if it was the particular revelation of Fallon repeatedly placing his hand on the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer that triggered his decision to step down or there were other incidents involving an abuse of power that may have precipitated his departure.
Hartley-Brewer, at the centre of the allegations that came to light earlier this week, has stressed that she did not see herself as a victim and that the incident had not "remotely upset or distressed" anyone.
"If this is over kneegate, him touching my knee 15 years ago and me not having any issue with it on Thursday, this is the most insane, absurd and ridiculous resignation of a Cabinet minister ever," she said.

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