News & Politics

UK Defense Secretary Resigns Over #MeToo Sexual Harassment Allegations

Sir Michael Fallon announced his decision to resign as UK Defence Secretary. (Nick Ansell/PA Wire URN:33539630)

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has resigned after English newspapers ran a campaign against him for supposedly sexually harassing a female journalist:

Fallon apologized earlier this week over an incident in 2002 in which he made unwanted advances to the journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer.

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Fallon wrote: “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 that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honor to represent.”

“I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as defense secretary.”

What’s most remarkable about this story is the fact that the female journalist referred to as Fallon’s victim has made it clear that she rejects that description of herself. In her official statement, Julia Hartley-Brewer writes:

I have not been a victim and I don’t wish to take part in what I believe has now become a Westminster witch hunt.

She also said that, although she wasn’t happy that Fallon put his hand on her knee at a party conference dinner, she has had “no issues since with the man in question” and does not regard the incident “as anything but mildly amusing, which is why I have declined to name him.”

Immediately after Fallon resigned, Hartley-Brewer responded with shock:

However, although it might be argued that Fallon didn’t have to resign over what happened with Hartley-Brewer, the now-former defense secretary reportedly told Prime Minister Theresa May that others he “flirted with” may have been “less understanding.”

In other words, he feared that other women would come forward with similar stories and that those women certainly did feel harassed and possibly even abused.