Defence secretary quits after apology for touching journalist’s knee

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that defence secretary Michael Fallon has resigned.

He apologised earlier this week over an incident 15 years ago in which he placed his hand on the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Sir Michael Fallon

In his resignation letter to prime minister Theresa May, Mr Fallon, a former minister for Portsmouth, 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.’

He added that it had been a “privilege” to have been defence secretary over the past three-and-a-half years.

Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said of the announcement: ‘Michael Fallon oversaw a mismanagement in the defence budget which led to delayed delivery of crucial equipment and short-sighted decisions leaving holes in our operational capabilities.

‘Whoever the new secretary of defence will be, I will pushing them for a better deal for our dedicated armed forces personnel, ensuring our services are given the resources they need and fighting to protect the Royal Navy in its home of Portsmouth.’

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