Fox concedes MoD probe over best man ‘adviser’

By Alex Stevenson

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is investigating whether Liam Fox has broken the ministerial code by allowing his best man close access to the department.

Adam Werritty has met the defence secretary 14 times at the MoD since the general election, despite not having security clearance.

He also attended a meeting with senior Sri Lankan ministers and distributed business cards claiming he was an 'adviser' to Mr Fox, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Mr Fox told BBC1's Breakfast programme he understood the cards were no longer used and said the "wild allegations" were being addressed by an official probe.

"Because there have been allegations of security leaks and so on, I've asked the permanent secretary to look into those for me," he said.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the move looked like a "panic measure".

"These are events only he knows about and it would be easier if he just answered questions directly," he commented.

"It is right that this is being officially investigated by the MoD. There is evidence which appears to contradict Liam Fox's statements."

He said Mr Werritty was reportedly arranging meetings for the defence secretary without officials present, despite not being an MoD employee, before adding: "It is extraordinary that Liam Fox is unable to tell us what is going on."

The Sri Lankan visit was a private one, Mr Fox explained. That is consistent with his claim in a parliamentary answer last month that "Mr Werritty is not an employee of the Ministry of Defence and has, therefore, not travelled with me on any official overseas visits".

Yesterday it emerged that Mr Werritty's charity, the Atlantic Bridge, had been wound up after the Charity Commission criticised it for pursuing an overtly political agenda of fostering right-wing relations between the US and UK.

Now Mr Werritty's links with the defence secretary face further scrutiny. An MoD spokesman said: "Mr Werritty's meetings with the secretary of state at the MoD have concerned entirely private matters, not to discuss MoD business.

"At no time has he had access to any classified MoD documents or information."