More Questions Than Answers As Disgraced Dr Liam Fox Is Nailed
FORMER UK Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox broke most of the rules in the book.
It turns out the Civil Service knew of and disliked young Mr Adam Werrity’s cast iron determination to stick close to the shirt tails of the former UK Defence Secretary.
Predictably, the relationship eventually forced the 50-year-old Dr Liam Fox’s resignation.
The, it has to be said, fleeting inquiry into the affairs of State and definitely non Statesman-like activities of Dr Fox while in charge of one of Britain’s biggest spending departments has hammered Fox and said he fell woefully short of what should be expected of a Minister.
The report says he “failed to live up to the standards” required.
Fox resigned last Friday, October 14, as Whitehall’s senior staffer Sir Gus O’Donnell was conducting the inquiry. Up to that point he has brazened it out saying he would NOT resign.
Sir Gus says Fox’s behaviour made him a security risk and breached the ministerial code. There were concerns within the Ministry of Defence Civil Service staff and his own advisers of the probity and wisdom of the relationships between Werrity and Fox. Fox on two disturbing occasions had refused to have MoD officials in attendance at meetings preferring to have his Best Man Adam at his side. Fox was also twice warned by his private office and MoD permanent secretary Ursula Brennan of the risks posed by his association with Mr Werritty.
Fox’s Ursula Brennan…not a happy bunny
O’Donnell’s brief 10-page report can only be described as damning. It details Fox’s dealings with former flatmate and best man Adam Werritty, 33, an ex-defence consultant, who travelled around the world with him, claiming to be an adviser.
The report clears Fox of making any financial gain from the relationship or of breaching national security. It does say he risked the security of both himself and his staff.
Sir Gus is now suggesting five new rules to govern the behaviour of ministers, which have been accepted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
These include ministers giving details to their civil servants of private meetings where substantive issues are discussed, and for departmental permanent secretaries to ask the Prime Minister to intervene, if necessary, if a minister fails to heed their warnings over contacts with individuals or organisations.
It beggars belief this was not already done in this case. If top Civil Servants are concerned enough to issue warnings to ministers re their relationships and conduct then it would be incredible if the Prime Minister David Cameron were to now claim he knew nothing.
It is totally clear the Civil Service did know and their duty is to the Crown’s principal minister.
What the report completely fails to do is examine the relationship between Fox and six donors who put money into Pargav (a Weritty company) allowing Weritty to have a comfortable and playboy lifestyle and act in the way he did.
It does identify the donors which include millionaire Michael Lewis and Oceana Investments, a corporate intelligence firm G3 Ltd, investment company Tamares, venture capitalist Jon Moulton and a business called IRG Ltd.
Fox, who now has to face an angry Parliament, said he was pleased “the two most serious allegations, namely of any financial gain sought, expected or received by myself and any breach of national security, have no basis”.
He added…in what must constitute one of the most mealy-mouthed excuses in British Parliamentary history…..
“I accept that it was a mistake to allow the distinctions between government and private roles to become blurred, and I must take my share of the responsibility for this.”
Fox is being investigated by the Electoral Commission and Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, best pal Werritty is facing a possible investigation by the City of London Police.
What the report does not fulfil is what MPs have every right to know… just who in Britain’s tenuous coalition government knew what about the affair .
If Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister David Clegg was in the picture many of his already disenchanted party members may have a great deal to say.
This not a Tory Party embarrassment it is a shocker for the entire coalition and there are already concerns over what is now being rapidly swept under the carpets or shredded in other Whitehall offices. What other lobbyists have direct access to central government?
One of the unasked questions is if the Cameron-Clegg partnership was not in the know just who runs Britain?
That is the oldest conundrum in the British Establisment.