LONDON – Britain’s government on Thursday awarded one of its highest honours, a knighthood, to Gavin Williamson, who was fired as defence secretary in 2019 over a national security leak.
Williamson also stepped down as education minister in September last year after parents criticised his handling of the school system through the pandemic.
He was dismissed as defence secretary in 2019 by then prime minister Theresa May over a leak of discussions in Britain’s National Security Council about Chinese telecoms company Huawei.
Williamson denied being behind the leak. May said compelling evidence suggested he was responsible.
The 45-year-old had risen quickly through the ranks of the ruling Conservative Party after he backed May to become prime minister in 2016. He later supported Boris Johnson to replace May.
He was known for keeping a pet tarantula called Cronus in his Westminster office and for telling Russia to “go away and shut up” after a poisoning in the English town of Salisbury that London blamed on Moscow.
“The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of Knighthood be conferred upon The Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson CBE MP,” the government said in a statement.
Knighthoods are awarded as part of Britain’s honours system to people who have excelled in politics, the arts, sport, science, business and other areas of public life, along with those who volunteer for charities and community work.
Under Britain’s honours system, honours committees make recommendations which then go to the prime minister and the queen.