Apology? Fox uses personal statement to launch attack on the media

By Ian Dunt

Liam Fox cut a proud and defiant figure today as he issued a personal statement to the Commons following his resignation from Cabinet.

The dramatic statement came just hours before a new investigation into his conduct – this time to do with expenses – was announced by parliament's commissioner for standards John Lyon.

Officials are concerned that by allowing Adam Werritty to stay rent free at his house, the taxpayer was effectively subsidising his friend's accomodation.

The former defence secretary issued a tough attack on the media, accusing it of launching a campaign of "hate against him", in what was supposed to be an apology for his actions.

"There was from some sources a personal vindictiveness, even hatred, that should worry all of us" he said, to a hushed chamber.

"You do not turn your back on your friends or family in times of trouble. It is unacceptable that family should be hounded by elements of the media."

The former defence secretary, who faced rumours of homosexuality during the row that derailed his ministerial career, praised his family for standing by him.

"It's not easy to watch someone you care about being attacked in a very aggressive and prolonged way," he said.

Mr Fox used the personal statement to apologise for giving the "impression" of wrongdoing due to his relationship with Adam Werritty, a close friend who accompanied him on many foreign trips and received funding from lobbyists with links to Israel and Washington.

He resolutely denied ever having profited from the situation or threatening the UK's defence arrangements.

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell found Mr Fox "clearly" breached the ministerial code yesterday, in a report whose production was surrounded in mystery and rumour.

Its publication prompted a bitter exchange between Ed Miliband and David Cameron during this week's PMQS, with the Labour leader urging the prime minister to "show a bit of humility".

Mr Cameron hit back by highlighting Labour lobbying scandals before the general election.

"If you're going to jump on a bandwagon make sure it's still moving," he told Mr Miliband.

Despite originally being pegged for a 10:00 BST publication, yesterday's report was not released until late in the afternoon, triggering speculation about cover-ups and revisions.

Some critics suggest the report was changed to protect those funding Mr Werritty.

PMQs was followed by an official statement from leader of the House Sir George Young on the Cabinet secretary report.

During the debate, Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the House, accused the government of brushing the Fox affair under the carpet and hurting public trust in politics.