Liam Fox claims to be hate campaign victim

 
Liam Fox Mr Fox's flat was broken in to during the 2010 general election campaign

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Liam Fox has told friends and colleagues that he is the victim of a hate campaign.

During a robust and confident performance in the Commons on Monday the defence secretary attacked what he called "whispering in the weeds".

It is now clear what he was referring to. Hints, nudges and winks about his sexuality have turned into specific accusations made in today's papers.

The Sun claims that the Tory press operation covered up the fact that a young man (not Adam Werritty) was in Mr Fox's flat when it was burgled before the election. The Mail claims that he was using taxpayer-funded flights to arrange short holiday breaks with Mr Werritty.

The key - and legitimate - question now is not about the defence secretary's private life but what Adam Werritty's role was and how he paid or was paid for following Liam Fox around the world.

One of Liam Fox's friends told me Mr Werritty was "a groupie who kept turning up pretending to be something he wasn't".

However, my understanding is that when Werritty handed out business cards claiming to be an adviser to Mr Fox that was pretty close to the truth.

Fox regards himself as an outsider. He was a champion of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and the Atlanticist cause long after it had gone out of fashion.

In government, just as he had in opposition, he wanted to talk to someone who thought like he did, who could ask the questions he would, who was on his side.

Sympathetic ear

Werritty is, I'm told, prepared to open his books to the official inquiry into his role.

They will show, I'm told, that he was paid not for lobbying but for "political and strategic advice" by a number of wealthy private clients who share his and Mr Fox's view of the world.

In one way, this explanation may clear things up for Mr Fox. In another, though, they may make things more tricky.

It appears that Mr Fox may have been getting and seeking private advice paid for by political sympathisers without the restraints placed on political advisers who work within the civil service and are paid for by the taxpayer - the political equivalent of the banks' "off balance sheet" activity.

This is what Mr Fox put his hands up to at the weekend.

The defence secretary is in Paris today hoping to celebrate the day Libyans declare that they have been liberated from Gaddafi's forces.

Instead, Fox is wondering what he needs to do next to see off the hounds.

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 13.

    I suspect , judging by the confidence in the denials, that there is nothing which would give genuine grounds for his dismissal or his resignation. The silence from the opposition benches also seems to point in this direction. Using the gay card seems to be contrary to the Labour party's views on diversity, or does this only apply to Labour ministers and shadow ministers ?

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 12.

    To portray Mr Werritty as a groupie or a tolerated stalker is absurd given their history. Another question is why is a 'lame duck' Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell carrying out the investigation as one of his last controversial duties before he is thrust into the cold world of directorships, six figure bonuses and diamond encrusted pensions?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 11.

    'They (the books Werrity will allow the inquiry to see) will show, I'm told, that he was paid not for lobbying but for "political and strategic advice" by a number of wealthy private clients...' NR above. Which 'wealthy private clients' and why would Mr Werrity be in a position to give such advice? The inquiry is toothless and pointless as intended. Labour have become muted on this. Wonder why?

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 10.

    The "orientation" business is a distraction.

    Follow the money.

    Don't forget to look at party funding / donors (all parties) and Werrity connections related to such.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 9.

    The issue is not Mr Fox's sexuality, he has the freedom to be whoever and whatever he wants to be. The issue is his judgment. He clearly obfuscated and misled in his initial answers to the Guardian allegations. He continues to obfuscate and uses passive language in his partial apologies. Nobody believes that Werrity would have followed Fox around the globe out of altruism.

  • rate this
    -26

    Comment number 8.

    Fox is right about the media hate campaign & most/all of the vitriole is coming from the 'complex bigots' on the TU /left wing/posh liberals.
    Fox does have questions to answer but it is naive to think anything other than all MP's have 'hangers on' or 'cling-ons' in the case of the Labour scalphunters. If ministerial code applied in full to H of C there'll be no one there but - 'black rod'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    I thought everyone knew how to get round the 10 minute rule?

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 6.

    Well, Fox would help himself if he was clearer in what he says. Quite frankly, it defies belief that Werrity wasn't benefiting financially from the meetings he attended. If he wasn't, why was he there?

    Was Werrity slipping Fox a backhander?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 5.

    Growing increasingly odd that David Cameron has chosen to back his man; one would have assumed the Tory attack dogs would have talked to Fox and his camp and realised just how much mileage the story has.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 4.

    The first part of this is questions/allegations over his sexuality - isolated this should be utterly irrelevant and the only person who should care is his wife.

    The second, and far more serious is the suggestion of misconduct - if Fox has been using tax payers money to pay for his indiscretions, then quite simply he should resign/be sacked without question.

    His sexuality should be irrelevant

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 3.

    We now move to the phase of trying to gain sympathy by making the actions against the accused worse than the actions the accused has carried out. The facts are clear to be seen, sexual innuendos apart, Mr Fox has misused his position to help a lobbyist and should take the opportunity to resign before all of the real dirt comes out. No sympathy is deserved.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    We've had this before wth baseball cap hotel share boy.

    I say the same thing here: we should dismiss all speculation about people's private lives. It is not relevant to their job in the 21st century.

    Investigations should be limited to job related allegations (as yet uproven) such as financial gain, official secrets, security of government buildings etc. Those are issues of public interest.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 1.

    Curiouser and curiouser as the story rolls on. Tories covering up whether a young man was in Mr Fox's flat at the time he was burgled (assuming the chap was not the burglar) implies a retro Tory view of same sex relationships. Overall and without drawing any conclusions it seems some politicians trivialise the gravity of their office by ignoring the need to be seen as totally scrupulous.

 

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