Current Magazine

Liam Fox Apologises Over Werritty Links

Posted on the 10 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Liam Fox apologises over Werritty links

Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox. Photo credit: Steve Punter

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox is under fire over his relationship with close friend Adam Werritty. Allegations emerged  last week that Fox had blurred the boundary between his professional and personal life by attending meetings brokered by Werritty, as well as allowing his friend to visit the Ministry of Defence 14 times. The revelation that Werritty, Fox’s former flatmate and best man at his wedding, had at one time carried business cards describing him as an adviser to “the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP” only served to fan the flames. The defence secretary has apologised for his actions while insisting there has been no wrongdoing. Can he cling on to his Cabinet post?

Inquiry. Prime Minister David Cameron is awaiting an “interim report” into the matter, according to Andrew Sparrow on The Guardian‘s Live Blog, which will be followed by a full report at the end of next week. However, Sparrow also quoted the prime minister’s spokesman as saying Cameron believes Fox is “doing an excellent job as secretary of state” and that he has “full confidence” in his minister.

“I accept that mistakes were made, and I should not have allowed the impression of wrongdoing to arise,” Liam Fox said in a statement.

Explanation, not apology. A Times (£) editorial insisted that Fox’s apology is not sufficient , and that the country also deserves a full explanation. The editorial focussed on Werritty’s relationship with the Sri Lankan government, following the revelation that he attended a meeting between Fox and Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa: “Dr Fox insisted he met Mr Rajapaksa in a purely ‘private’ capacity. But such foreign policy freelancing undermines not only the Foreign Secretary, but any notion of Cabinet collective responsibility.”

Friends with benefits? A Guardian editorial argued that Fox has repeatedly “had to amend his account of events” as fresh allegations have emerged, and that this has cast doubt on his credibility. The editorial pointed out that government advisers have to be vetted and that having an “off-the-books adviser” in unacceptable. However, the editorial also suggested that Fox’s position may be secure, because “there is no obvious alternative to him as the architect of demanding and unpopular budget cuts”.

Fox won’t resign. Writing on a Telegraph blog, Benedict Brogan insisted that Fox is unlikely to resign – indeed, he said, even Labour isn’t calling for him to do so – because “for the moment there isn’t a case for it”. Brogan wrote that Fox was guilty of “foolishness”: “There’s something a bit weird about allowing your mate to hang around the office.”

No defence. By contrast, according to a Sun editorial, Fox’s career is “hanging by a thread”. The editorial argued that if Adam Werritty is found to have made any financial gain from his relationship with Fox, the defence secretary is “toast”.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog