AN interrogation room deep in the bowels of AD-13. The atmosphere is tense. A prolonged “beeeeep” signals the start of an official recording.

KEEPSCHTUM: Anti-Disclosure Unit 13 interview of Gavin Williamson, in the presence of his lawyer and his emotional support tarantula, by Detective Chief Superintendent Keepschtum at 13:00 on April 30. For the tape, can you please identify yourself?

WILLIAMSON: Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary.

KEEPSCHTUM: Umm ... are you sure about that?

WILLIAMSON: Oh. No. Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire.

KEEPSCHTUM: Thank you.

Image one is now being shown on screen – if you prefer you may refer to your folder. Image one shows item GW-1, a story in The Daily Telegraph on April 24, 2019, headlined “May defies ministers and US over Huawei”.

Mr Williamson, do you recognise item GW-1?

WILLIAMSON: I would prefer if you addressed me as your right honourable friend.

KEEPSCHTUM: You’re not my friend. This investigation will determine whether or not you are honourable. Mr Williamson, do you recognise item GW-1?


KEEPSCHTUM: And can you explain how The Daily Telegraph obtained the confidential information contained in this report, which claims that senior ministers warned the Prime Minister that a deal with Chinese telecoms firm Huawei posed a threat to national security?


KEEPSCHTUM: Interesting. I now refer you to image two, a letter addressed to yourself from Prime Minister Theresa May, in which she writes that you are being sacked as Defence Secretary because there is “compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure”.

WILLIAMSON: That woman is a bare-faced liar!

KEEPSCHTUM: I can’t bear shouting. Or even loud talking.

WILLIAMSON: I swear on my children’s lives, it wasn’t me. I did not leak this, and to my dying day I will keep insisting that.

KEEPSCHTUM: Hmm. We’ve been inspecting your phone records – these are documents 26 to 32 in your folder. I’d like to draw your attention to the record from April 23, 2019. This shows that an 11-minute call was made from your phone to Steven Swinford, who is deputy political editor for The Daily Telegraph.

WILLIAMSON: I’ve never denied making that call.

KEEPSCHTUM: And what did you and Mr Swinford discuss during that phone call?

WILLIAMSON: We discussed Brexit and the upcoming European Parliament elections.

KEEPSCHTUM: And did you record this phone call?

WILLIAMSON: No, that’s not something I ...

KEEPSCHTUM: That’s unfortunate, isn’t it?

WILLIAMSON: Well now that you’re making out ...

KEEPSCHTUM: How would you describe the timing of that call, in light of the story that appeared in the Telegraph the following day?

WILLIAMSON: Suspicious.

KEEPSCHTUM: Yes, suspicious. Did you disclose confidential information from the national security meeting of April 23 to Steven Swinford of The Daily Telegraph?

WILLIAMSON: No, I did not.

KEEPSCHTUM: Really though?

WILLIAMSON: I’m being set up! The real leaker is trying to frame me!

KEEPSCHTUM: That’s exactly what the real leaker would say though, isn’t it?

WILLIAMSON: I’d like to consult with my tarantula. I mean my lawyer.

KEEPSCHTUM: As you wish. But I must make you aware that anything you say to that spider may be taken down and used in evidence against you.

WILLIAMSON: That’s not fair?

KEEPSCHTUM: I can now inform you that Cronus the tarantula – aka “C” – has been part of a years-long undercover operation designed to root out loose-lipped politicians.

WILLIAMSON: Cronus! I trusted you! This is an outrage. No further comment.

KEEPSCHTUM: Interview terminated at 13:15.