Fallon has resigned as minister after three years in post, as friends suggest there may have been some ‘inappropriate flirtation’ recently
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Michael Fallon has resigned as defence secretary, after he said his past behaviour may have fallen short.
Fallon is the first minister to step down from Theresa May’s government in the growing scandal about sexual harassment at Westminster, which has seen a series of lurid allegations emerge in recent days.
Fallon’s resignation letter
Fallon’s resignation letter Photograph:
He apologised earlier this week over an incident 15 years ago in which he made unwanted advances to the journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, repeatedly placing his hand on her knee, although Hartley-Brewer herself insisted that, “no one was remotely upset or distressed” by it.
But friends of Fallon suggested there may have been similar such incidents more recently, saying, “he would absolutely concede that some of the flirtation has been inappropriate”.
In his resignation letter to May, Fallon said: “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.
“I have reflected on my position and I am now resigning as defence secretary.”
In her reply, the prime minister said: “I appreciate the characteristically serious manner in which you have considered your position, and the particular example you wish to set to servicemen and women and others.” She praised his “diligent service”.
May will now have to carry out a cabinet reshuffle with tense Brexit negotiations due to resume next week in Brussels.
Separate allegations have emerged about other ministers in recent days, including the first secretary of state, Damian Green, who has been accused of making inappropriate advances towards an activist, Kate Maltby.