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Fox “outfoxes” critics – and lives to fight on?
Bullish Defence secretary Liam Fox has apologised to MPs today over what is slowly becoming known as WerrittyGate – but is back from the brink of losing his post as Defence secretary.
The beleaguered Defence senior minister was forced to apologise yesterday to the nation after serious questions were raised over a close friend, Adam Werritty, had accompanied him on a couple of key trips abroad.
He said that Werritty had been on 18 trips with him, and some MPs were bemused that Werritty was able to have access to a Secretary of State’s personal diary.
Sec Fox said it was ridiculous though that family and friends would not be able to know where they are.
But Fox said that his friend would no longer be able to make unofficial trips to the Ministry of Defence – in the past he had apparently been with him 40 times both in the MOD and on trips abroad.
Fox said to MPs that when he heard that Werritty was using House of Commons business cards saying he was an advisor to the Defence secretary, he told him to stop it.
He also assured MPs that Werritty had no financial gain or, indeed, had any access to classified information from the MOD.
Labour’s Jim Murphy claimed Fox had for sure broken the ministerial code of conduct, (which is a set of rules outlined by the Prime minister), by breaching Paras 7.1, 2, 3, 4, and had “driven a coach of horses through the rules.”
He said if the Secretary of State doesn’t abide by them, then they are “not worth the paper they are written on.”
The PM though, has seen the report, and Fox lives to fight another day.
The Prime minister said that he had full faith in Liam, and that it was right for him to acknowledge he had made mistakes.
Fox told media that he understood that the whole thing looked suspicious, and could be interpreted as wrong-doing.
It was important Fox said that these matters were dealt with thoroughly, but they would not detract from the scale of his job at the MOD as Defence secretary.
But he said bluntly and sheepishly over the whole crisis yesterday: “I am very sorry for that.”
Some Tory backbenchers have been rallying around him, and told media he was an “all around nice guy” - who just made an error of judgement.
Secretary Fox was a real contender in the Tory Party leadership before David Cameron beat him to the job.
He is a hard right-winger, who Cameron would rather have in the tent spitting out, rather than outside the tent spitting in.
Murphy though told Sky later that he was not satisfied by Fox’s statement, and that Cameron was determined to cling onto a very much weakened Defence secretary.