UK Defence Minister under fire in friendship row

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UK Defence Minister under fire in friendship row

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As Britain’s defence secretary arrived in Libya to meet its new leaders, events back home were on the minds of the press pack following him.

Conservative Liam Fox is at the centre of a growing row about his working relationship with a close friend. An internal inquiry is already underway.

“As you know, there are perfectly legitimate questions for democratic politicians,” Fox said, answering journalists as he stood next to Libya’s National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

“As you will discover, we have already set out a mechanism by which those will be resolved in the United Kingdom.”

The focus is on Adam Werritty, Fox’s self-styled adviser and best man at his wedding and his many visits to the Defence Ministry, despite not being on its payroll.

For the UK’s Labour opposition, it is all rather murky.

“Did Mr Werritty have any business in the defence industry? Did he have any contacts? Was he making any money? Was there any cash for access? That is one set of questions, I think,” said Labour Party Defence spokesman Jim Murphy. “There is also the fact that whenever the Secretary of State for Defence offers an explanation, it appears to unravel within hours.”

A video has emerged showing that a meeting between Fox and Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also attended by Werrity who has no official role. Such access has sparked mounting opposition claims that the ministerial code of conduct or national security may have been breached.