LONDON — U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon resigned from government Wednesday, after admitting to inappropriate behavior in the past.
Fallon apologized earlier this week over an incident in 2002 in which he made unwanted advances to the journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer. The BBC reported that fresh allegations about Fallon’s behavior were reported to No. 10 Downing Street on Wednesday.
The defense secretary is the first British Cabinet minister to resign over the sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed Westminster as women have shared stories of alleged abuse since Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was fired following numerous reports of sexual harassment against him.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy, First Secretary of State Damian Green, has strongly denied a claim by a Tory activist that he acted inappropriately towards her in 2015. Trade minister Mark Garnier remains under investigation by the Cabinet office for asking his secretary to buy sex toys.
Fallon’s resignation is a blow for May’s already weak government. The former defense secretary was one of the longest-standing ministers in May’s Cabinet, having held office under four prime ministers, and had developed a reputation as someone who could be relied on to face the media when the government came under pressure.
May is expected to appoint a replacement defense secretary Thursday, although Fallon’s departure will not lead to a full Cabinet reshuffle, one official said.
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.”
Accepting his resignation, May said she appreciated “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.”