More doubts have been raised about the impartiality of the inquiry that led to Theresa May sacking Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary.
ITV News understands that Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who conducted the inquiry following leaks from the National Security Council (NSC) to national media outlets, was pointing the finger at Williamson before the investigation had started.
At a meeting of NSC officials the day before the inquiry was launched, Sir Mark allegedly singled out Williamson as the source of the leak – accusations the former Defence Secretary denies.
Once the investigation was launched, Dominic Fortescue, the Government Chief Security Officer, went to Castle Douglas in Scotland, where Williamson was on holiday to speak to the then Defence Secretary.
ITV News has learned that Fortescue asked Williamson to sign a consent form and although he was happy to show investigators his phone, emails and messaging history, he asked for more time before signing the document.
Sources close to Williamson said he had no issue with signing the form but was suspicious that a cabinet minister was being asked to do so.
Williamson not signing the document was mentioned in a veiled reference in his sacking letter, when May said his “conduct had not been of the same standard as others”.
Williamson has however denied any involvement in the leaks, going as far as to say that any police investigation into the matter would exonerate him completely.
When the Prime Minister was asked if she was “certain” that Williamson was responsible for the leak, she avoided answering but said she made the right decision.
Sir Mark has now been asked to discuss the evidence which led to the sacking of Williamson before a parliamentary committee.
Dame Margaret Becket, the Chair of the Joint Committee on the National Security Council, has already written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him for the details of his inquiry.
ITV News understands that Sir Mark will also be invited to appear before that committee soon. The next scheduled oral evidence session is due to be held on 13 May.
This afternoon, a Cabinet Office spokesperson told ITV News that they would not comment on matters concerning the NSC.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson was asked about Sir Mark singling out Williamson before the investigation and said it was the first time that claim had been raised.