this is a record of events following the resignation of Liam Fox from government. Interesting he never did desert his friend now that’s loyalty at it’s best!!!
18 October 2011: Liam Fox put security at risk, Downing Street report finds
Former defence secretary guilty of multiple breaches of the ministerial code, inquiry into links with Adam Werritty concludes.
Liam Fox put the security of himself and his officials at “risk” on overseas visits by releasing details of his diary to Adam Werritty, the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has concluded in his report into the former defence secretary.
In a damning assessment of Fox, O’Donnell said that the former defence secretary was guilty of multiple breaches of the ministerial code after “blurring” the lines between his private and official responsibilities. O’Donnell said: “Dr Fox’s actions clearly constitute a breach of the ministerial code which Dr Fox has already acknowledged. This was a failure of judgment on his part for which he has taken the ultimate responsibility in resigning office.”
Downing Street immediately announced David Cameron had accepted O’Donnell’s report, which recommended a tightening of the rules governing relations between ministers and civil servants.
But there was criticism after No 10 delayed publication of the report until 5.30pm. Fox had hoped to make a personal statement to the Commons on Tuesday afternoon. Sir George Young, the Commons leader, will make a statement to MPs on Wednesday.
Liam Fox said: “I am pleased that the report makes clear that 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.
As I said in the House of Commons last week, 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. “More care should have been taken to avoid the impression that anyone other than ministers and officials were speaking on behalf of the government, as this was not the case.
Although there were no actual conflicts of interest I acknowledge that in order to avoid any possible perception of this, all private interests should have been fully declared to the permanent secretary. “I welcome the recommendations in this report, which will provide greater clarity for ministers, officials and private individuals in the future.” In a 10-page report, which explains why Fox resigned so abruptly on Friday, O’Donnell found that the former defence secretary had:
• Put officials at risk by disclosing details of future overseas visits to Werritty. “The disclosure outside MoD of diary details about future visits overseas posed a degree of security risk not only to Dr Fox, but also to the accompanying official party. Dr Fox has accepted that such disclosures were not appropriate.”
• Ignored concerns from Ursula Brennan, his permanent secretary. “The risks of Dr Fox’s association with Mr Werritty were raised with Dr Fox by both his private office and the permanent secretary. Dr Fox took action in respect of business cards but clearly made a judgment that his contact with Mr Werritty should continue.”
• Wrongly allowed Werritty to attend a meeting in September last year with Matthew Gould, then the British ambassador designate to Israel. “As a private citizen, however, with no official locus, it was not appropriate for Mr Werritty to have attended this meeting. Dr Fox has since acknowledged this. This highlights the blurring of lines between Dr Fox’s private and official responsibilities which he has since acknowledged was not appropriate and not acceptable.”
• Mistakenly met Harvey Boulter in Dubai on 17 June with Werritty with no MoD officials present. “Dr Fox has acknowledged that conducting this meeting without a private secretary present was unwise and inappropriate.”
• Allowed the appearance of a perception of a conflict of interest after arranging for Werritty to meet a donor to Pargav, the company that funded his trips. “The links between Dr Fox and Mr Werritty means that the donations given to Mr Werritty could at least be seen as giving rise to the perception of a conflict of interest.”
• Failed to inform Brennan of his friendship with Werritty. “He should have declared to his permanent secretary that Mr Werritty was a friend who had a company, Pargav, which was funded by a number of donors, some of whom had provided funding to Dr Fox when in opposition.”
• Fuelled a “general impression” that Werritty spoke on behalf of the British government through his “close and visible association” with his friend who used “misleading business cards”. Printed with the parliamentary Portcullis, these described him as an adviser to Fox.
O’Donnell, who said that Fox’s former supporter Jon Moulton had contacted him, named the supporters of Pargav. They are: Oceana Investments, Jon Moulton, G3 Ltd, Tamares, IRG Ltd and Michael Davies.
O’Donnell concluded his report with a series of recommendations designed to prevent a repeat of the lax way in which Fox met Werritty and other business people overseas without officials. These will mean:
• Ministers will have to inform their department if they discusss “substantive issues” with external organisations when no officials are present.
• Departments should clarify who is, and who is not, a member of a ministerial visit overseas.
• Officials should accompany ministers to all meetings overseas where official business is discussed.
• Permanent secretaries should discuss with new ministers whether any acquaintances or advisers have contractual relationships with a department or whether they are involved in policy development.
Mick Davis, Michael Lewis and Poju Zabludowicz named in Cabinet report, with over £140,000 channelled through Pargav
Three of the six donors who funded Adam Werritty’s jetset lifestyle were prominent pro-Israel business figures. Gus O’Donnell’s report into the Liam Fox affair identified two previously unknown funders of Pargav, the company which paid more than £140,000 towards Werritty’s first class flights and five star hotels. One of these was Mick “the miner” Davis, the boss of the FTSE 100-registered mining company Xstrata and a leading figure in the UK Jewish community.
Davis, 52, is chairman of United Jewish Israel Appeal, a British charity which splits its contributions between charitable work in the UK and Israel. He collects one of the biggest pay cheques in the FTSE 100 and was paid £21.2m last year.
It has previously emerged that two of the donors to Pargav were financier Michael Lewis and the real estate tycoon Poju Zabludowicz, both linked to the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (Bicom), the UK’s main pro-Israel lobby group.
Davis, Lewis and Zabludowicz are all big donors to the Tory party. Davis gave £150,000 to Conservative party central office over the last 21 months according to Electoral Commission records. He also gave £7,500 to the office of the education secretary Michael Gove in August.
In June, Davis was among a delegation that included Zabludowicz, the chairman of Bicom, which met the foreign secretary William Hague to discuss the impact of the Arab spring on Israel. Last year Davis was at the centre of a fierce controversy within the UK Jewish community after he made highly critical remarks about the Israeli government.
Lee Petar, a boss of Tetra Strategy, the lobbying firm that introduced a Dubai defence contractor to Werritty, was previously communications chief for Bicom.
Another company called IRG but as yet unidentified was named by O’Donell as a donor to Pargav.
O’Donnell reported that Werritty identified the other funders of Pargav as G3, an international investigation company run by former MI6 employees, and the private equity tycoon John Moulton, who owns Reader’s Digest. O’Donnell said Werritty told him Pargav was “a not-for-profit organisation which has supported his work in the Middle East.
O’Donnell said: “Dr Fox facilitated an introduction between Mr Werritty and a donor. The links between Dr Fox and Mr Werritty mean donations given to Mr Werritty could at least be seen as giving rise to the perception of a conflict of interest.”
19 October 2011: Liam Fox statement: oh no, not another victim
Although the former defence secretary’s Commons statement started well, he badly misjudged parts of it and ended up sounding like a man who still doesn’t quite get it
When a politician takes a poke at the modern media, as Liam Fox did in his personal resignation statement to MPs, there’s always a danger that journalists immediately focus on the affront to their dignity and motives. Fox’s attack on the media (“some sections”) hounding of family and friends, together with the hatred he detected in some coverage, is not the most important aspect of the saga.
It’s also likely to be half-true. The pack in full pursuit can be pretty ugly, though on this occasion it was chasing a legitimate target. It’s what the media are for, not rummaging through footballers’ tangled love lives.
Not that you would have learned much about that from Fox’s statement. I thought it started well, albeit without much concession to the faults found – by the cabinet secretary as well as the media – in his conduct towards his department in relation to his chum, Adam Werritty.
But he misjudged the next bit badly. “Oh no, he’s another victim,” MPs must have muttered. Most of the “media frenzy” turned against him was not true, he insisted.
‘”I have always believed in personal responsibility and I accept the cabinet secretary’s conclusions. I am pleased at the explicit acknowledgement that I neither sought, expected, nor received any financial gain that was being widely and wrongly implied. “I also welcome the clarification of the fact that no national security issues were breached, no classified documents made available, and no classified matters briefed. These accusations were also widely made and deeply hurtful.”
Nope. All he’d done was breach the ministerial code of conduct. Perception, as well as substance, matters, he conceded – a touch ungracious there.
“And how,” someone might have heckled. But the Commons tradition is that personal statements – usually about wrongdoing, sometimes about reasons for a principled resignation, sometimes a mess like this one – are usually heard in silence.
A good rule in life anywhere. It’s understandable that a man who loved his job, and had sat for 17 years on the frontbench waiting to get it, is angry and disappointed – a “deep personal disappointment”, he said – at losing it over what he clearly thinks is a bogus controversy. Imagine what Sir Alex Ferguson will sound like the day the Man Utd board decides to blow his final whistle!
He managed to be gracious again towards the end, thanking friends, family, political colleagues – including David Cameron – as well as his Somerset constituents for their support. “You do not turn your back on friends and family in times of trouble.” We can assume from that that Adam Werritty will be on the Fox sun lounger in future summer holidays.
“As I said in the house last week, I accept that it was a mistake for distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalty to a friend. I accepted then it was a mistake to attend a meeting with a potential supplier without an official present and, with hindsight, I should have been more willing to listen to those around me.”
But Fox also sounded like a man who still doesn’t quite get it. So many questions remain to be asked about what Werritty did on those foreign trips – and why he did it. Did he think he was a latter-day Lord Palmerston? A James Bond or a George Smiley? A patriotic businessman? Or a smart hustler getting his bills paid by suckers? What about Israel? And Iran? What about lobbyists and financial backers who must have hoped to benefit at some stage? Not everyone is a noble patriot.
And what about the role of senior civil servants? Should they have done more to alert No 10? Or were they too timid, worn down by decades of politicisation, which started with Margaret Thatcher’s “is he one of us?” question and was carried forward by Tony Blair.
In a government of pals Werritty sounds like a reprise of the Andy Coulson problem. Did no one warn Cameron properly? If not, why not? We just don’t know. But in time we may. Labour went immediately on the attack – as oppositions are meant to do (after all Labour had its scandals in office, as David Cameron pointed out at PMQs) – and the media will not let go a juicy and mysterious story with plenty of mileage left in it. Fox pledged his total loyalty to the cabinet and to Cameron. But he isn’t going anywhere, not after this.
Labour leader asks PM to explain his failure to ask ‘tough questions’ of those around him
David Cameron went on the attack after being challenged to “show a bit of humility” and explain why he appeared to have no idea that his former defence secretary, Liam Fox, had an unofficial adviser who was funded by donors some of whom are close to the Conservative party.
The prime minister ducked a series of questions by Labour’s Ed Miliband on Fox, including reassurances that no other minister was engaged in similar activities to those that have surfaced involving Fox.
It emerged in a report published on Tuesday that the former defence secretary blocked civil servants attending key meetings alongside his friend, Adam Werritty, failed to tell his permanent secretary that he had solicited funds to bankroll his close friend and ignored private office requests to distance himself from the relationship.
In the first prime minister’s question session since Fox resigned, Miliband said the revelations that had surfaced about what had been going on “in the most sensitive parts of the prime minister’s government” were deeply worrying. They raised questions about Cameron’s failure to ask tough questions of those around him, he said. “The prime minister says he and Number 10 knew nothing about these goings on for 18 months. How did he allow this to happen?” asked Miliband.
He also urged the prime minister to give reassurances that no other minister had been involved in similar activities, and accused the prime minister of a “pattern of activity” in which he failed to ask “tough questions of those around him” and then ducked the blame when things went wrong. Cameron said the allegations surrounding Dr Fox were “an important and serious issue”, which is why he had set up a “full and proper inquiry”, which led to the report.
He added: “I do think it is worth actually recognising that in this case the secretary of state for defence recognised that he had made a mistake, acknowledged that he broke the ministerial code and he resigned. That is not something that always happened in the last 13 years.”
But Miliband chided him, saying that “in this week of all weeks”, Cameron should show a bit of humility. The Labour leader said the full facts of the case should be known. “The truth is we still don’t know the full facts about this case, about the money trail, about who exactly in the government met Mr Werritty. And it is becoming clear that there are a network of individuals who funded Mr Werritty, some with close links to the Conservative party and other members of the cabinet. “Given that you said you knew nothing about the arrangements, can you give a categorical guarantee that over the last 18 months no other government minister has been engaging in similar activities?” But the prime minister shot back: “I think we should have a little bit of humility from the people who gave us cabs for hire, passports for favours, mortgages for mates, dodgy dossiers, smearing opponents, good days to bury bad news.”
In a nod to the last PMQs session, where Miliband focused on issues other than Fox, Cameron added: “These were the questions you were meant to ask last week. I’ve got a bit of advice for you: if you’re going to jump on a bandwagon, make sure it’s still moving.” An angry Miliband pressed him on his commitment to the ministerial code, by pointing to the resignation of his former director of communications, Andy Coulson, who has since been arrested over the phone-hacking scandal, and to the resignation of Fox.
Quoting Cameron’s words that “it’s not enough simply to make a difference, we must be different”, Miliband said: “In the last three months, we have seen your defence secretary resign in disgrace and your spin doctor arrested. Is that what you meant by being different?” Cameron quipped that Miliband seem to have failed to have noticed that the minister in question has resigned. “You’re just a bit late,” he said.
The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that another Conservative minister has been accused of blurring the role of a close adviser after an outside consultant with clients including BAA, Sky and Morgan Stanley was given a job in his department and handed out business cards bearing its name.
The exchange took place ahead of a statement to MPs by Sir George Young, the leader of the house, and Fox himself, who is due to make a personal statement to MPs this afternoon.
What a farrago of self-regarding, self-congratulatory self-exculpation the former defence secretary’s speech provided
Some resignation speeches change history: Geoffrey Howe with his broken cricket bats, for example. Some create an ineradicable image in the public mind, such as Norman Lamont’s revenge on John Major’s government: “They are in office but not in power.” Some are little better than self-justifying whinges: Ron Davies after his ill-advised walk on Clapham Common.
And then there is Liam Fox, who spoke to the Commons on Wednesday. What a farrago of self-regarding, self-congratulatory self-exculpation it was! He even contrived to tiptoe round the notion that he had done anything wrong. “The ministerial code has been found to be breached,” he said, as if it were like a hurricane battering a levee, a force of nature for which nobody is to blame.
And why had he come under attack? Because for more than a year, he had bent the rules, constantly and persistently, in the face of warnings from his most senior civil servants? Hardly. His fall was, in part, the result of machinations by unnamed enemies. It was the result of “personal vindictiveness and even hatred. That should worry all of us.”
Time and again he implied he was the victim. But all had not been lost. There had been a tidal wave of support and encouragement from everyone: fellow MPs and cabinet members, constituents, family and friends, and most of all from his wife, who had offered “grace, dignity and unstinting support”.
You would imagine that he had, through no fault of his own, contracted a life-threatening illness, his fear and pain swept aside by the kindness of everyone around him. “I may have done wrong, or possibly not,” he was saying. “That doesn’t matter because everybody loves me.”
He rose to cheers from Tory backbenchers. They accept a myth that he was one of the finest of all defence secretaries. He certainly gave us an aircraft carrier without aircraft, and arranged for armed forces members to be sacked while at war.
He began with what sounded like faux modesty. He had been in Libya where he met a man who showed him photos of his dead children. “A few days later I resigned. One was an unbearable human tragedy, the other a deep personal disappointment.” So his own peccadillo was as nothing within the greater realm of human unhappiness.
“I accept that it was a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalty to a friend.” But that too didn’t matter, because he had been cleared of the serious charges against him. The cabinet secretary’s report cleared him of receiving money or endangering classified material. That had been implied. It was “deeply hurtful”. But he accepted it was not only substance that mattered but perception, which is why he resigned. In other words, I didn’t do wrong, but people may have got hold of the idea – heaven knows how – that I did.
Then we were on to the media, the real enemy. “Every bit of information, no matter how irrelevant or immaterial, is sensationalised, where opinions and even accusations are treated as fact.” It was also unacceptable that family and friends were “hounded and intimidated”, including elderly relatives and children. He did not say who these were, though it didn’t matter, since a murmur of approval rose from around him.
Such is the loathing politicians feel for the press (except reporters they like) that anyone can now blame their behaviour not upon themselves, but on the media for exposing them. He sat down thanking the voters of North Somerset for giving him “the opportunity to serve,” an echo of John Smith’s speech the night before he died. But then John Smith was never accused of covert and shabby behaviour.
19 October 2011: Liam Fox faces investigation by parliamentary standards watchdog
Standards commissioner announces investigation hours after ex-defence secretary apologises to MPs and criticises media
Liam Fox is to face a fresh investigation into his links with Adam Werritty after the parliamentary standards watchdog accepted a complaint into the conduct of the former defence secretary. A few hours after Fox used his resignation statement in the commons to attack the media for pursuing him with “vindictiveness, even hatred”, the parliamentary standards commissioner announced that he would investigate a complaint lodged by a Labour MP.
John Mann wrote to John Lyon last week asking him to examine allegations that Fox allowed Werritty to live rent-free in his London flat which allowed him to run a business from a property funded by parliamentary allowances.
A spokesman for Lyon said: “The commissioner has received a complaint from John Mann and he has accepted it.” The announcement came shortly after Fox criticised the media as he apologised to MPs for breaching the ministerial code over his friendship with Werritty.
In a personal statement to MPs, Fox also hit out at a Dubai-based businessman whose confirmation of a meeting with Fox helped trigger the former defence secretary’s downfall.
He said it was wrong of the press to report “unquestioningly” allegations by Harvey Boulter, who met him and Werritty in a Dubai hotel in June, when Boulter is involved in a blackmail case. “Last week’s media frenzy was not unprecedented, and it happens where a necessary free press and politics collide,” Fox told MPs. “But I believe there was, from some quarters, a personal vindictiveness, even hatred, that should worry all of us.”
The former defence secretary spoke to MPs shortly after Sir George Young, the leader of the Commons, announced that the government was accepting in full the recommendations of a report into him by the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell.
O’Donnell called for tighter rules on ministerial contacts with outsiders after finding Fox guilty of multiple breaches of the ministerial code for a “blurring of lines” between his official and private responsibilities.
Fox admitted the code had been breached, but was careful not to say directly that he had breached it. In a carefully-constructed sentence, he said: “The ministerial code has been found to be breached. For this I am sorry. “I accept it is not only the substance but [also] perception that matters. That is why I chose to resign. I accept the consequences for me without bitterness or rancour.
I do not blame anyone else, and I believe that you do not turn your back on your friends or family in times of trouble.” Fox then turned on the media for hounding his family and accepting Boulter’s claims without question. He said: “It is unacceptable that family and friends who have nothing to do with the central issues should be hounded and intimidated by elements of the media including, in this case, elderly relatives and children.”
He added: “It is difficult to operate in the modern environment, as we know, where every bit of information, however irrelevant or immaterial, is sensationalised, and where opinions or even accusations are treated as fact. “It was particularly concerning that Harvey Boulter, present at the Dubai meeting and subsequently the defendant in a blackmail case, was treated so unquestioningly.”
Boulter met Fox and Werritty for 45 minutes in the Horizon Club business lounge, on the 41st storey of Dubai’s five-star Shangri-La Hotel, on 17 June. After the meeting, Boulter emailed a lawyer from 3M, a firm with which he had been involved in a business dispute, to warn of a “rather embarrassing situation” over the recent knighthood for the 3M head, George Buckley. Boulter said the knighthood was not discussed at the Fox meeting, though he had discussed it with Werritty.
Fox admitted that it was wrong of him to have attended the meeting with Boulter without an official present. He also accepted O’Donnell’s criticism that he had failed to heed warnings from Ursula Brennan, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, about his links with Werritty.
He said: “With hindsight, I should have been more willing to listen to concerns of those around me.” His voice came close to breaking as he paid tribute to his wife, Jesme, who listened to him from the front row of the Commons public gallery. “I would like to thank my family and friends for their love and support,” he said. ”
It is not easy to watch someone you care about being attacked in a very aggressive and prolonged way. We choose this life. They do not. Above all, I would like to thank my wife Jesme, who has dealt with this whole business with her usual grace, dignity and unstinting support.”
Boulter rejected Fox’s criticism. He said: “It is most certainly not fair or correct for Fox to again brand me as a blackmailer. He knows very well that I was trying to settle a legal dispute between 3M and Porton/Ploughshare (part of his former ministry) … How is that possibly blackmail – this is a negotiation. ”
The fact Fox is continuing to pursue me I think makes him look more than a little silly. “If Fox had not issued an incorrect statement in the first place, which the Guardian forced him to correct publicly, then he would not have exposed his adviser to scrutiny.” A series of Tory MPs lined up to congratulate Fox after his statement. Desmond Swayne, the prime minister’s parliamentary private secretary, who is a member of the Territorial Army, hugged him.
Earlier, David Cameron accused the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, of jumping on a bandwagon when he questioned his handling of the Fox allegations. “If you are going to jump on a bandwagon, make sure it’s still moving,” the prime minister said. “The minister in question has resigned. You are just a bit late.” Miliband said: “This week of all weeks, show a bit of humility, eh? … He doesn’t ask the tough questions of those around him and, when anything goes wrong, it’s nothing to do with him.”
20 october 2011: Downing Street pressed for more detail of donors named in Liam Fox report
The report naming six companies has raised questions about their identities and links to the Pargav slush fund
Downing Street faces growing pressure to definitively identify a company named in the report by the cabinet secretary, Gus O’Donnell, into Liam Fox’s links with his best man, Adam Werritty. The former cabinet minister Peter Hain demanded that ministers clarify who is behind the company, IRG Ltd.
The report’s publication on Tuesday was intended to draw a line under the furore around Fox’s links with Werritty, which led to Fox resigning as defence secretary. But the report, which named the six companies and individuals that funded Werritty’s Pargav “slush fund”, has raised more unanswered questions.
Among the Pargav donors, including the mining tycoon Mick Davis, private investigations firm G3 and billionaire property mogul Poju Zabludowicz, is a company referred to as simply “IRG Ltd”. More than 30 companies and organisations use the same initials, including an Iraq-focused charity, an executive recruitment agency linked to the former Tory minister Virginia Bottomley and a pizza restaurant in Basildon.
On Thursday, Hain put down a parliamentary question for the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, demanding he “explain the nature and purpose of IRG Ltd”. Hain said: “The tentacles of this scandal spread even further and the government must come clean on what IRG is. There is no reason for the Cabinet Office to say it knows what IRG is, but not to admit it in public.” International Resources Group, a US company owned by L-3 Communications has denied it is the same IRG Limited that funded Pargav.
Another IRG Ltd is a UK company which trades as Odgers Berndston, an executive recruitment agency and it counts former Conservative health secretary, Virginia Bottomley, as a director.
It too has denied any connection to Pargav. A third organisation, the Iraq Research Group, said to be led by Stephen Crouch, the former chairman of the Tory Party’s Camarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency, has been identified in media reports as a possible candidate. The Guardian has been unable to contact Crouch. Simon Hart, the MP for Camarthen West, said Crouch used to make frequent trips to Iraq and said it was understood locally that he had a background in the military or intelligence. “We always thought he was working for the programme rebuilding Iraq and that he was working for an American company,” Hart said.
Hart said Crouch once helped arrange a £5,000 donation to the local party from Tony Buckingham, an oil tycoon with interests in Kurdistan. A search of company records shows that almost 30 companies registered in the UK use the initials IRG.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: No 10 knows which organisation it is, but will not make it public. “We are not going to go into the detail of the people or organisations that are in the report.” A spokesman at Conservative central office said: “The Conservative party has no idea who IRG is. ”
Adam Werritty funded by businessmen introduced to former defence secretary by party treasurer
The Liam Fox affair has reached the Conservative party’s high command for the first time after it was confirmed that its leading fundraiser introduced donors to the former defence secretary, who then introduced them to his best man, Adam Werritty.
In a blow to Downing Street’s central tactic of distancing itself from Fox – saying that he was operating in his own way – the Conservative party admitted that its senior treasurer was the conduit for donors to the former defence secretary.
Sir Howard Darryl Leigh, Baron Leigh of Hurley is a British businessman and Tory Party politician. He was elevated to the House of lords in September 2013. He passed on the details of donors who wished to support Fox’s campaign during the 2005 Tory leadership contest. They were later persuaded by Fox to give money to organisations that supported Werritty, according to a source, and some of the money was spent visiting Fox on lavish trips abroad. Leigh was one of party’s treasurers at the time.
The disclosure is an embarrassment for the Tories and will pose further difficult questions for Fox, who has been told that he faces a parliamentary inquiry into his behaviour and Werritty. In his resignation statement in the Commons, Fox attacked the media for pursuing him. “Last week’s media frenzy was not unprecedented, and it happens where a necessary free press and politics collide,” Fox said. “But I believe there was, from some quarters, a personal vindictiveness, even hatred, that should worry all of us.”
A Conservative spokesman confirmed Leigh’s role in helping to introduce Fox to the donors whose recent support was used by Werritty to fly around the world to meet the former defence secretary.
The spokesman told the Guardian: “Howard Leigh introduced donors to Liam Fox’s office during the 2005 leadership campaign. Some of them subsequently maintained contact with Dr Fox’s office.
Mr Leigh had no knowledge of Pargav and has not introduced donors to Dr Fox for some time.” A source close to Leigh said: “Howard Leigh was as shocked as anybody to find that donors’ funds were being used to fund Adam Werritty’s trips.
There is no way that he would have countenanced that.” Leigh is now the senior treasurer of the party. He is understood to have met Werritty on a number of occasions, but does not regard him as a friend.
A party source says the donors approached Leigh asking to donate money to Fox’s campaign, not that they were solicited by Leigh.
The Tory spokesman declined to say which donors had been introduced to Fox by Leigh, and did not expand on whether they knew of how their money had been spent by Werritty.
Backers of Pargav include Mick Davis, a South African-born mining magnate known for his pro-Israel views; Tamares real estate, an investment company owned by Poju Zabludowicz, the chief funder of Israeli pressure group Bicom; and Michael Lewis, a former vice-president of Bicom, who donated £13,832 to Atlantic Bridge and £5,000 to Fox.
Poju Zabludowicz…. http://powerbase.info/index.php/Poju_Zabludowicz: A Finnish-born property developer whose Israeli-based father built a fortune from the defence industry, once owned a mansion on a North London street dubbed “Billionaires’ Row” The property was a venue for secret talks between Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2011. Zabludowicz funded travelling and the lavish lifestyle of former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and adviser Adam Werritty. He also financed a chip & pin company whose technological guru gained insight from the confidential magnetic strip credit card encryption algorithm used by a London based British/Israeli embossing and encoding company. Backed Cameron leadership bid. Donated £600,000. to the Conservative Party.
Davis, Zabludowicz and Lewis would not add comment on how their donations had been solicited or what they believed the money was to be used for. However, Lewis has stated he had no knowledge of how his donations to Fox’s leadership campaign were used.
A source with knowledge of some of the donations said some initial contributions were made to Fox’s charity, Atlantic Bridge, and renewed in subsequent years without close scrutiny of where the money was going.
He said some of the donors were also under the impression that the approaches had been approved by the Conservative party. “I don’t think it was core Tory party fundraising but there were core Tory party fundraisers who were willing to support it.”
Another source said there had been no co-ordination between the Jewish donors to fund Werritty, though some had initially felt well-disposed to help Fox because of his pro-Israel position.
Both Davis and Leigh serve on the Jewish Leadership Council, a body with representatives from community and religious groups. Davis has been chairman of the council’s executive committee since 2009.
Leigh chairs the elite Leaders’ Group, which has more than 70 members who pay up to £50,000 a year for the privilege of meetings with David Cameron. Tory insiders say he has helped to bring in more than £2m a year through fundraising events, according to reports.
He is the managing director of Cavendish Corporate Finance, which helped Cameron’s wife, Samantha, collect a windfall following the £18m sale of Smythson, the stationery and leather goods emporium company where she is creative director.
Leigh passed the donors over to Fox in 2005. At the time, Fox was the leading candidate of the party’s right in the leadership campaign against Cameron and David Davis.
Tory sources claim Fox then maintained contact with the donors and was responsible for passing them to Werritty, who then funnelled £150,000 to Pargav.
The parliamentary standards commissioner, John Lyon, announced that he would investigate a complaint about the former defence secretary lodged by Labour MP John Mann, after Mann asked him to examine allegations that Fox allowed Werritty to live rent-free in his London flat, which allowed him to run a business from a property funded by parliamentary allowances.
Fox apologised to MPs after Sir Gus O’Donnell ruled that he was guilty of multiple breaches of the ministerial code for a “blurring of lines” between his official and private responsibilities.
In a carefully constructed sentence, Fox said: “The ministerial code has been found to be breached. For this I am sorry.”Fox accused the media for hounding his family and accepting “unquestioningly” claims by Harvey Boulter, the Dubai-based businessman “It is difficult to operate in the modern environment, as we know, where every bit of information, however irrelevant or immaterial, is sensationalised, and where opinions or even accusations are treated as fact.
Boulter rejected Fox’s criticism. He said: “It is most certainly not fair or correct for Fox to again brand me as a blackmailer. He knows very well that I was trying to settle a legal dispute … The Tories’ statement follows unconfirmed reports on Wednesday in the Jewish Chronicle saying that Leigh had helped to pass on donors who funded Werritty’s activities.”
7 November 2011: Judge rules on case that exposed Liam Fox and Adam Werritty friendship
MoD and Harvey Boulter win case that led indirectly to Fox’s resignation but damages are a fraction of the $40m target
The legal battle that exposed Adam Werritty’s role at the heart of government has been settled by a high court judge. The case brought by the Ministry of Defence and Dubai businessman Harvey Boulter against US Post-it note maker 3M ultimately forced Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, to reveal his reliance on Werritty, his best man and firm friend of 13 years.
On Monday the judge, Mr Justice Hambleden, ruled in favour of Boulter and MoD in the dispute over the development of MRSA detection technology, called BacLite, which the pair sold to 3M in 2007.
The ruling found that 3M was in “material breach of its obligations” and awarded the MoD and Boulter’s private equity firm Porton Group $1.3m (£800,000) in damages, significantly below the $40m they had sought.
The case was discussed at the now infamous meeting between Fox, Werritty and Boulter at a five-star hotel in Dubai this summer. The MoD’s failure to account for that meeting on the 41st floor of the Shangri-la hotel exposed Werritty as Fox’s unofficial adviser and triggered a possible blackmail lawsuit which could involve the former defence secretary giving evidence to a US court.
After Monday’s ruling, 3M lawyers repeated the blackmail claims, alleging that Boulter “participated in an illegal campaign to extort more than $34m from 3M to settle the BacLite case prior to a final judgment or else Boulter and [Lanny] Davis would use their influence with recently resigned UK minister for defence Dr Liam Fox to interfere with 3M’s business in the UK”. Davis is Boulter’s legal and PR adviser.
3M claims an email Boulter sent in the middle of the night after the meeting in Dubai on 17 June shows that Boulter threatened to seek Fox’s help to have what he described as the “rather embarrassing situation” of a knighthood awarded to 3M’s British-born chief executive Sir George Buckley discussed by the cabinet.
In the email, Boulter suggested that a settlement “at a headline of $30m-plus will allow MoD to internally save face”. William Brewer, a partner at Bickel & Brewer and counsel for 3M, said: “With the London matter now successfully resolved, 3M is anxious to press forward with its claims against Mr Boulter and his affiliates. “In our view, the judgment in London demonstrates that Mr Boulter and others clearly were not entitled to the tens of millions of dollars that they sought from 3M.”
Boulter said he would call both Fox and Werritty as witnesses if and when 3M’s claims reach court. “We have got to get at the dark heart of the business and politics of lobbying,” Boulter said. “They are going to be forced to tell us the truth.” 3M’s lawyers are also considering calling Fox to give evidence in the case currently pending in Washington DC. A trial could start as early as next year. Boulter and Davis deny the allegations.
With reference to the BacLite case, Boulter said: “I am delighted that we have been vindicated in our attempt to force 3M to face up to their responsibilities. But the victims here are those infected with MRSA.
A weapon in that fight was wrongfully abandoned by 3M. “This is a question of trust and honour which in my opinion seems to have been sadly lacking in 3M’s behaviour. The judge has made it quite clear that 3M did not live up to its promises.” 3M bought BacLite for £10m with an agreement for further payments of up to £41m depending on sales performance.
The technology was originally developed by the MoD’s science and technology laboratory at a cost of £15m. As it stands, having earned £5m from Ploughshare’s half of the sale price, the taxpayer has been left £10m out of pocket.
It comes as one of Werritty’s financial backers prepares to hand the police new evidence that he claims proves Fox’s best friend and self-styled adviser duped him into handing over money.
Jon Moulton, a multimillionaire venture capitalist who donated £35,000 to the “slush fund” set up to support Werritty’s jetset lifestyle, has told the Guardian he will provide the police with documents proving he was misled by Werritty.
Werritty is not among those who has been interviewed by police, his lawyer said on Friday. “Adam has not been contacted by the police, and it follows that he has not been interviewed by them,” said the lawyer. “I can add that he has also not been asked to provide a written statement to the police, nor has he done so voluntarily.”
Sir Gus O’Donnell final apearance before the Public Accounts Committee.
Paul Flynn denied the right to question Gus at length about the Liam Fox debacle.
“Ministerial Conduct: The Committee considered this matter. Motion made, and Question put, That the Committee inquire into the decision to ignore the provisions of the Ministerial Code in the investigation conducted into the Fox/Werritty affair.
The Committee divided:
Ayes, 2 Paul Flynn, Kelvin Hopkins.
Noes, 4 Alun Cairns, Charlie Elphicke, Robert Halfon, Priti Patel.
Question accordingly negatived. Resolved, That the Committee inquire into the arrangements for the Independent Adviser to the Prime Minister on Ministerial Interests to investigate alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code.” http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/2c2a9a84-ff80-4599-a6e2-cb4adb0b6711
Tory Party Links to Israel
Liam Fox and his links to the NHS as Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Gabrielle Bertin has worked as a press aide for Conservative Party leaderDavid Cameron. She was appointed as Number 10 Downing Street’s director of external relations in August 2013 with “responsibilty for forging – and maintaining Downing Street’s – relations with business, pressure groups and charities.” Bertin is known as a well trusted and long standing adviser, according to PRWeek, which cited one source recently claiming the ‘hole she will create (see pregnancy below) is impossible to fill’. Bertin has acted as his political spokeswoman for seven years. On her return to Downing Street from maternity leave she took up the specially created post as “Director of External Relations.
Bertin previously worked in the House of Commons for Liam Fox MP on the atlanticist think tank Atlantic Bridge. Her salary was paid for by Pfizer. From the House of Commons register of interests in 2007: “I work exclusively for the Atlantic Bridge, a UK-American think-tank of which my sponsor, Dr Liam Fox, is a founder member. In this role I receive funding from Pfizer Inc. I have no function in any health role (Dr Fox is Shadow Secretary of State for Health). I also do occasional work from home for Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein (an American law firm based in North Carolina).” http://powerbase.info/index.php?title=Gabrielle_Bertin
Scientific Research and Medical Provision: The Anglo – American Dynamic” The Future of Biotech, Pharmaceuticals and the Life Sciences
Conference hosted by The Atlantic Bridge at Merton College, Oxford on May 10th 2003
A Pfizer representative – along with others from GlaxonSmithKline and Novartis – heard and gave speeches against regulation and on the question of whether “the current UK health care model [is] sustainable”.
Bloomberg’s comprehensive expose of Koch Industries abundant criminality.
An excellent Blog exposing the Atlantic Bridge
‘A Conservative charity, set up by Liam Fox, is being investigated by the Charity Commission. The Atlantic Bridge – which boasts five shadow cabinet ministers on its advisory council including George Osborne and William Hague, as well as Fox – claims its mission statement is, “the simple aim of “Strengthening the Special Relationship” exemplified by the Reagan-Thatcher partnership of the 1980s.”
Excellent site exposes the activities of ALEX http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed: