Allegation of 'lunge' at female journalist forced resignation of ex-Defence Secretary Fallon

  • Allegation against Fallon by female journalist pushed him to resign.
  • Fallon is said to have “lunged” at Jane Merrick after a lunch in 2003
  • Former Defence Secretary stepped down on Wednesday.

LONDON — The now former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was forced to resign from the cabinet after a female journalist accused him of having “lunged at her and attempted to kiss her on the lips,” according to The Observer newspaper.

The paper says the alleged incident occurred in 2003 after a lunch between Fallon and journalist Jane Merrick, then a reporter at the Daily Mail.

Merrick says that after the alleged incident she “shrank away in horror and ran off to my office in the Press Gallery.”

“I felt humiliated, ashamed. Was I even guilty that maybe I had led him on in some way by drinking with him? After years of having a drink with so many other MPs who have not acted inappropriately towards me, I now know I was not,” she told the Observer.

The alleged incident, the Observer says, is what pushed Prime Minister Theresa May to insist on Fallon’s resignation, with a friend of Fallon’s saying that the MP “realises this kind of incident was unacceptable which is why he had to resign.”

“I’ve already accepted that I have behaved inappropriately in the past,” Fallon told The Times on Saturday.

Fallon announced his resignation from May’s Cabinet on Wednesday evening, saying his behaviour in the past had “fallen short” of what is expected of him.

Earlier this week, Fallon admitted to inappropriate behaviour towards journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer more than a decade ago.

The prominent journalist claimed Fallon “repeatedly put his hand on my knee” during a dinner at Conservative party conference and she “calmly and politely explained to him that, if he did it again, I would ‘punch him in the face’.”

A close ally of the defence secretary told The Guardian: “Julia is a good friend of Michael’s. He overstepped the mark when he put his hand on her knee. She made it clear it was unwelcome and he rightly apologised 15 years ago.”

A dossier detailing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by Conservative MPs and Cabinet ministers has been circulating in Westminster this week.

The document, seen in full by Business Insider, contains mostly unverified claims, ranging from private acts between consenting adults to more serious allegations of unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment. A number of well-known MPs are included in the dossier.

On Friday night, MP Charlie Elphicke was suspended from the party
after “serious allegations” against him were passed on to the police, the party’s chief whip, Julian Smith said.

Elphicke denied any wrongdoing, and said he was “not aware of what the alleged claims are.”

You can read The Observer’s full story on Fallon’s resignation here.

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