Ally of Gavin Williamson have furiously denied he was sacked from his old job over an affair with a colleague.
The Defence Secretary, 41, has faced growing pressure since it was revealed he left his job as a manager at Engin and Hall in 2004 after an illicit liaison.
A friend of Mr Williamson hit back at rumours he was axed from the job because of the affair, and insisted the firm offered him another job of equal rank – but decided to turn it down.
The Cabinet minister has faced growing pressure after news of his affair first broke last week.
Gavin Williamson, pictured with his wife Joanne, said last week he amicably left his job at a fireplace company but new claims have put him under renewed pressure
He has faced claims he leaked confidential information about Russia’s ability to disrupt Britain’s power supply causing ‘thousands and thousands of deaths’ in a bid to distract from the revelations.
The scandal has dealt what might be a mortal blow to the married father-of-two’s hopes of being Theresa May’s successor and inheriting the Tory leadership.
A friend told The Times rumours that Mr Williamson had been kicked out of the Yorkshire-based fireplace company – a subsidiary of Aga – were plain wrong.
They said: ‘They ended it on a Friday and both said it couldn’t go on. On the Monday Gavin decided he didn’t want to stay at the company.
‘He was offered the job of operations director to stay. There was no disciplinary process.’
Mr Williamson told The Mail last week how he had betrayed his wife by having an office romance with the junior employee in 2004 and left his job as managing director of Elgin and Hall ‘almost immediately’ and on ‘amicable terms’.
The issue came to a head in the summer of 2004 when the woman told her direct line manager about her working relationship with Mr Williamson, according to The Guardian.
Mr Williamson insisted the romance never went beyond sharing a couple of kisses – despite reports he ‘bombarded’ her with flowers as he tried to pursue the relationship.
The new claims say that the now Defence Secretary only left his job after the woman he had an affair with reported the fling to her line manager
A meeting was held to discuss the problem with senior executives from parent company Aga Foodservice Group and Mr Williamson then left the company, it was claimed.
In his account, Mr Williamson had given the impression he made the decision to leave himself.
He said after confessing the office fling to his wife Joanne, ‘going back to work afterwards it could never feel the same as every day would remind me that I had let down the person I love more than anything.’
The fresh claims raise questions about Mr Williamson’s version of events and senior Tories are warning he will be ‘toast’ if his story unravels.
No 10 has stood by the former chief whip, who is a close ally of Theresa May and seen as a possible future leadership contender.
An ex-employee said: ‘He was very ambitious, very thrusting. He was brought into the firm aged only 28.
‘He had the hots for this woman and regularly sent her flowers. He had a big Jaguar which he got other people to drive while he sat there waxing lyrical about the Tory party.’
Another claimed the woman was seen in tears having reported an ‘incident’ to her manager and there were questions as to whether he faced disciplinary procedures before leaving the firm.
A former manager, who also spoke anonymously, recalled: ‘I came to work one day and saw the woman going into the operation manager’s office.
‘She was very upset and her colleagues were comforting her. She was very tearful and was in there a long time.
Mr Williamson, a firm ally of Theresa May (pictured), has always said that the affair was a mistake and stopped as ‘suddenly as it started’ but critics believe it has dealt a mortal blow to his chances of being the next Tory leader
‘It was obvious something very stressful was going on.’
The scandal comes Mrs May is facing a fresh battle to cling on as leader amid growing signs of discontent in her party ranks.
Grant Shapps, a Tory MP and former party chairman, has demanded the PM set a date for her departure.
While Tory MP Robert Halfon likened the Government to a ‘tortoise’ and urged Mrs May to be bolder.
The former party vice-chairman said: ‘We need to have less policy-making by tortoise and [more] policy-making by lion. Because we have to be radical. We have to stop seeing politics in transactional terms.’
And Heidi Allen, a Tory MP and leading Remainer, said the PM needs to ‘get a grip’ on her party.