WORLD NEWS
11/01/2017 04:44 pm ET Updated Nov 01, 2017

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon Resigns Following Allegations Of Harassment

He's the first member of Parliament to step down in the midst of a growing sexual harassment scandal in Westminster.
David Gray / Reuters

Sir Michael Fallon has resigned as the U.K. secretary of defense, several outlets reported Wednesday.

In a resignation letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Fallon reflected on his past behavior, and allegations of harassment and unwanted flirtation that have recently come to light against him.

“A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct,” he wrote. “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.”

May reportedly responded saying: “I appreciate 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.”

The Conservative politician admitted Tuesday that he acted inappropriately toward Julia Hartley-Brewer, a female journalist, by touching her knee in 2002. Hartley-Brewer subsequently responded on Twitter, saying “no one was remotely upset or distressed” by the incident.

Fallon reportedly quit because he could not guarantee there would not be another story about allegedly inappropriate contact with a female journalist, according to HuffPost UK. His replacement will be announced on Thursday.

If “kneegate” is the reason behind Fallon’s resignation, Hartley-Brewer told Sky News, “this is the most insane, absurd and ridiculous resignation of a cabinet minister ever.”

British Members of Parliament have been tackling the issue of sexual harassment within Westminster in recent weeks, after the news of scores of sexual allegations against American film producer Harvey Weinstein emboldened several female MPs to come forward with their own stories of unwanted sexual advances.

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