18 Oct 2011

Fox report expected to show he ‘breached ministerial code’

A report by Sir Gus O’Donnell into the behaviour of the former defence secretary Liam Fox, published later today, is expected to conclude that he broke ministerial rules.

Former defence secretary Liam Fox (Reuters)

The Guardian reported the country’s most senior civil servant will deliver a “damning” verdict on Dr Fox‘s conduct, while accepting that he had not personally gained financially from his relationship with Mr Werritty.

Dr Fox finally resigned on Friday amid a welter of allegations suggesting his close contacts with his best man and former flatmate breached Whitehall rules. Dr Fox was replaced at the MoD by former transport secretary Philip Hammond.

Sir Gus was ordered by the prime minister to take over an internal Ministry of Defence inquiry in an effort to provide answers to “all remaining questions”.

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Dr Fox said he had “mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred” and apologised.

But Labour has said there were still many unanswered questions, including why Dr Fox took the decision to resign.

“I puzzle who persuaded Dr Fox the game was up because I thought he was showing little sign of realising it himself.”
Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon ponders what is really behind the defence secretary’s resignation.

An interim MoD report has already established that the then defence secretary had met Mr Werritty, who handed out business cards describing himself as Dr Fox’s adviser even though he had no official role, 40 times since coming to office.

Their contacts included trips abroad and meetings at the MoD, including talks with the Israeli ambassador, dinner with the new US commander of international forces in Afghanistan, and a meeting in Dubai with a defence supplier without MoD officials present.