As it happened: Liam Fox resigns

Key points

  • Defence Secretary Liam Fox has resigned after controversy surrounding his relationship with his friend Adam Werritty
  • Mr Fox said he had "mistakenly allowed" his personal and professional responsibilities to become "blurred"
  • David Cameron said he was very sorry for Mr Fox's departure but "understood his reasons"
  • Philip Hammond has been appointed defence secretary with Justine Greening replacing him as transport secretary
  • Labour says Mr Fox had not upheld the standards expected of ministers and his departure was "inevitable"

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    Good afternoon and welcome as we bring you live coverage as Defence Secretary Liam Fox resigns from the government. It follows days of speculation over his relationship with his friend Adam Werritty.


    In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Dr Fox said he had "mistakenly" allowed the distinction between his personal interest and government activities to become "blurred".


    Mr Fox's letter continues: "I have also repeatedly said that the national interest must always come before personal interest. I now have to hold myself to my own standard.

    "I have therefore decided, with great sadness, to resign from my post as Secretary of State for Defence - a position which I have been immensely proud and honoured to have held."

    1622: Nick Robinson BBC political editor

    "I think that what did finally do it for Liam Fox was the fact that what he originally called the blurring between the personal and the professional just became much too blurred for Downing Street to tolerate."


    Some background for you. The controversy started after it emerged that Adam Werritty - a friend of the defence secretary who was best man at his wedding - had visited Mr Fox's office at the Ministry of Defence 14 times in a year-and-a-half. Mr Fox later updated that figure to 22.


    Mr Werritty was also was present with Mr Fox on 18 overseas trips, including two family holidays and trips to Singapore, Dubai, Florida , Bahrain, Israel, Washington, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka.

    Mr Werritty does not work for the government, or the Conservative Party, but had carried business cards saying he was an adviser to "the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP".


    Conservative MP Peter Bone, a supporter of Mr Fox, said: "It's typical of Liam to put the country first.

    "It seemed to me that what was happening (was that) all this furore was becoming the story. And it was interfering with effectively running two wars in Afghanistan and Libya so as usual he's done what's right for the country."


    David Cameron has said he was very sorry that Dr Fox had resigned but added: "I understand your reasons".


    Here's that picture of Liam Fox with Adam Werritty on Mr Fox's 2005 wedding day.

    Liam Fox and Adam Werritty at Mr Fox's wedding

    Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: "It is a mark of his success that the individuals I have just spoken to, brigadiers and colonels, regret his departure, and so do I."

    Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy

    tweets: How much investigation into Fox and Werrity will continue now...? Does resignation draw a line - or make further digging essential?


    Downing Street sources are stressing that the prime minister was still willing to give his defence secretary time - at least until Sir Gus O'Donnell's report was published next week. Liam Fox phoned David Cameron to tell him of his decision to resign.


    Some more background - Mr Fox was being investigated by the Cabinet Secretary amid claims that he had broken the ministerial code over his relationship with Mr Werritty. The report was due next week.


    The backbench Conservative MP, Bob Stewart, who was a colonel in the army and sits on the Defence Select Committee, said he was sad because Mr Fox was a good man who had "paid for his mistakes".

    "There has been some hounding but you know Liam Fox said when he made a statement in the House that he accepted he had done things wrong. So in a way the writing was on the wall. "Once you have a minister that accepts that he's done things wrong the next step is of course resignation," he said.

    Steven George-Hilley

    tweets: Goodbye Liam, you really were Fantastic, Mr Fox #liamfox #fox


    The Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones said: "Government has got to have rules and ministers have got to have standards. He fell foul of the standards and he broke the rules.

    "We need answers to the questions that are still hanging there, and this week there have been an avalanche of them."


    "I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred": Here is Liam Fox's resignation letter in full.

    Jess Northend, London

    tweets: Interesting to see how balance will be struck between Lib-Dem and Tory right in reshuffle #Fox


    The BBC's Norman Smith says former defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind might be a contender for Liam Fox's job.


    The Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy told Radio Scotland that the "truth" had finally caught up with Liam Fox over his "shady" relationships with Adam Werrity.

    Mr Murphy said it was "inevitable" that Liam Fox would have to resign from the first day the allegations started to emerge.


    Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has been hounding Mr Fox since the allegations emerged a week ago.

    Jim Murphy

    The Sun newspaper's associate editor Trevor Kavanagh has told the BBC that David Cameron should use the opportunity to launch a major cabinet reshuffle.

    Labour MP Denis MacShane

    tweets: Fox is impetuous, careless, full of energy, drive + ambition 4 hs ideological worldview. Good parliamentarian. Not bad, corrupt just foolish

    Journalist Gaby Hinsliff

    tweets: Presume Werritty also loses his 'job'? the one he didn't have. for which some ppl wi defence interests seem to have nonetheless paid him.


    Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy: "The puzzle is why the prime minister worked so hard to save the defence secretary's job when so many other people around the country are losing their jobs."

    But he adds: "It's a personal tragedy for Liam Fox but it was probably unavoidable."


    Tim Montgomerie of the ConservativeHome website tells the BBC: "Dr Fox is damaged today and damaged for some time to come but in time he may have a big future in the Conservative Party."


    Earlier on Friday, pressure increased on Mr Fox with a report in the Times newspaper which said financial backers linked to Israel and a private intelligence firm had helped fund the travels of Mr Werritty.

    The newspaper claims they helped channel \u00a3147,000 into a company set up by Mr Werritty, who used it to join the defence secretary on trips abroad.


    Sky News is reporting its sources as saying a new defence secretary expected to be appointed later tonight.

    L Silverman in Reading

    writes: Comment has concentrated on the personal relationship between Fox and Werritty. What strikes me as far more important is that a parallel foreign/defence/intelligence agenda - associated with the American Right - appears to have been promoted behind the backs of the ministries.


    "I understand your reasons for deciding to resign as defence secretary, although I am very sorry to see you go." Read David Cameron's response to Liam Fox's resignation here.


    The BBC's political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Fox had made a hard-headed calculation that endless speculation was making it hard for him to do his job.

    He said Mr Fox had taken the view that another weekend of speculation would be deeply demoralising for staff in the MoD, let alone soldiers in Afghanistan and pilots working over Libya, so he had to go.

    ITV's Lucy Manning

    tweets: Understand likely Cabinet Sec's report into Liam Fox still likely to be published. Though maybe No 10 will have a rethink over weekend


    Questions were raised over the closeness of Liam Fox and Adama Werritty's professional relationship - here the former defence secretary is pictured arriving at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute to deliver a lecture in Colombo on 9 July, 2011. Adam Werritty can be seen in the background, fourth from the left with his head bowed.

    Liam Fox and Adam Werritty in Sri Lanka in 2011

    The BBC's Norman Smith says Philip Hammond is being touted as another possible candidate to succeed Mr Fox as defence secretary.


    To catch up on the twists and turns of the story which has unfolded over the past seven days, check out our updated timeline.

    June Ainslie in Farnham

    writes: It was a witch hunt. Jim Murphy [the Shadow Defence Secretary] should be ashamed for putting so much effort into ousting a person who was working hard for the country and was respected by our troops.


    Meanwhile, BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says the resignation is unlikely to damage the prime minister.

    Not being seen to be "at the beck and call of the press" is likely to reflect well on Mr Cameron, he said.


    Here's a boiled-down summary of the story so far:

    • Adam Werritty - a friend of Liam Fox who was best man at his wedding but who had no official role - visited his office at the Ministry of Defence 22 times in just a year-and-a-half and went on 18 overseas trips with him.
    • Dr Fox said Mr Werritty was "never present at regular departmental meetings" and they did "not discuss either commercial or defence matters" at the private meetings.
    • Labour say Mr Fox breached the ministerial code - by allowing a "misleading impression" to build up that Mr Werritty was an official adviser.
    • And today's Times allegations say \u00a3147,000 was paid into an acount used by Mr Werritty to fund his activities. Was this the tipping point that forced Mr Fox to resign?
    Conservative MP Louise Mensch

    tweets: Very sorry indeed Liam Fox has resigned. He was an outstanding Secretary of State for Defence and a completely dedicated minister.


    Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell says Mr Fox has bowed to the inevitable.

    "It had become impossible for him to draw a line under the story."


    Col Bob Stewart, a Conservative MP, said Mr Fox performed "pretty well" at the MoD.

    "Fundamentally he was well respected and has done a seriously good job at the Ministry of Defence, in my view," he said.


    Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski - who supported Liam Fox's bid to become Conservative leader in 2005, says the "hysterial media witch hunt against him" has resulted in him going.

    "I spoke privately to him a few days ago and it was having an effect on him," he says.


    If you'd like to know more about Adam Werritty - Mr Fox's friend, flatmate and business partner - check out our profile here.


    Defence Minister Peter Luff says he will miss working with Mr Fox.

    He says: "He has done a great job of setting the framework for the way defence needs to be reformed."


    More from Mr Luff, who says looking forward, he hopes Mr Fox will come back to front bench politics at some stage because he is "genuinely outstanding" and the country will be "well served by his return in due course".


    To learn more about the career of man at the centre of the storm, Liam Fox, see our video profile here.


    And here's a chance to look back at the twists and turns in Liam Fox's turbulant week in our video montage.


    "Their old rivalry and lack of political empathy meant the Cameron-Fox relationship was never going to be cosy," says the Daily's Telegraph's James Kirkup.

    1731: Breaking News

    The prime minister is due to give a statement on Mr Fox's resignation in a few minutes' time.


    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says he thinks Mr Fox left before he was pushed, but it is being presented as if he reached his own conclusion.

    "There's a warm letter from him to the Prime Minister and a warm letter back; I suspect that is as much to do with trying to save their blushes as anything else. "


    The BBC's Nick Robinson adds: "It seems to me clear that David Cameron had said to Dr Fox you've got time to prove you can get out of this, I will not push you straight away, what he had not said is I'm backing you."


    Jonathan Beale, the BBC's defence correspondent, says the Ministry of Defence has been "in chaos" over the last few days as a result of the distraction caused by the "drip, drip effect" of press coverage.


    More from our defence correspondent, who says Mr Fox had to make some unpopular decisions during his tenure as defence secretary as a result of the need to make "serious cuts".

    He says Mr Fox "ruffled feathers" and many people in uniform "were not pleased" with some of the defence cuts imposed, but that was the task handed to him by the prime minister.


    Former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore says it's a shame civil servants are now "sitting in judgment" over ministers.

    He says the relationship has become inverted and is not conducive to effective leadership.


    Prime Minister David Cameron says it was quite right not to rush to judgment on Liam Fox.

    He says Mr Fox did a good job at the MoD "clearing up the mess" left by the last government.


    The prime minister says he will be sorry to see Mr Fox go and his replacement will be announced shortly.


    The former Tory Defence Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has scotched reports that he might become the new defence secretary.

    "I've done it. I was a minister for 18 years without a break. When you've done 18 years without a break you're entitled to do other things."


    More from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who says Liam Fox had to resign because of "poor judgement".

    Mr Fox believed "he could have this private arrangement that enabled him to maintain lots of political contacts and pursue some of his political objectives," he tells the BBC.


    The Iraq war veteran, Col Tim Collins, a friend of Mr Fox, says he should perhaps have waited for the report's findings, but he had been feeling pressure from the "unrelenting" media.

    "As a man of honour he's decided that for fear of it hurting his department and confusing a busy time for his department and indeed the government, he's decided that he will take the drop for that," he says.


    Meanwhile, betting firm Paddy Power opens its books on the likely replacement for Mr Fox. Phillip Hammond is the clear favourite at early betting at 1/10.

    Andrew Mitchell follows at 10/1 with Baroness Warsi the outsider at 25/1.


    A "grey area" around the role of advisers has been highlighted by the controversy surrounding Mr Fox, says the BBC's Norman Smith.

    He believes that, once the controversy has passed, it's likely questions will be asked about whether there needs to be "greater clarity" over the the role of those who surround ministers because "there are ambiguities that need to be tightened up".


    The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says he believes the Cabinet Secretary's report into Mr Fox's conduct has concluded his position is untenable, which is why he has resigned.


    Whitehall sources say there will be an internal reshuffle and no external appointment to the defence secretary position.


    In short [Liam Fox] went before he was - in all probability - pushed, says the BBC's Nick Robinson

    Tim Montgomerie, editor of

    tweets: [Commentator] Janet Daley right to blog that Fox's departure leaves the Cabinet less Atlanticist, less earthy and less Conservative


    Tim Montgomery of the Tory website ConservativeHome is speculating as to who will replace Liam Fox.

    "Philip Hammond, as one of the cabinet's most impressive ministers, will be a safe choice but the return of Chris Grayling or, less likely, David Davis would ensure ideological balance," he says.


    David Cameron has said he is sorry to see Liam Fox go. You can watch his short TV interview here.


    General Sir Mike Jackson, who was head of the army from 2003 until 2006, says: This is another defence secretary who has only been in office for a year ...I think the concern of the armed forces will be that there is continuity here."


    The Guardian has described Liam Fox's career in pictures.

    Breaking News

    The BBC's Nick Robinson says Philip Hammond has been named as the new defence secretary


    Justine Greening becomes the new transport secretary.


    The BBC's Carole Walker says Mr Hammond will be seen as a "pretty cool pair of hands" to take over at the MoD.

    Tim Montgomerie editor of the

    tweets: Israel is another big loser from Fox's exit. He was country's staunchest Cabinet ally and hugely alive to danger posed by a nuclear Iran.


    The BBC's Carole Walker tells the BBC the role of transport secretary is "quite a big step up" for Justine Greening, who was economic secretary. She goes into the Cabinet for the first time.


    The full story on the changes to the Cabinet will be up on the BBC News website shortly.


    Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, tells the BBC News Channel the incident was a "massive misjudgement" from Liam Fox's point of view.


    There's nothing like a good Tory scandal with a whiff of innuendo, and a defence secretary too dim to realise his fate, says Marina Hyde in the Guardian


    Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph says the Fox affair leaves the clear and lasting impression that Britain is broken not at the bottom but at the top.


    As promised, here is that link to the full story on the BBC News website


    The MoD says it does not know if the new defence secretary, Phillip Hammond, will make a statement this evening.


    The new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is described as "hugely experienced and hugely respected" by Tory backbencher John Glen, a member of the Defence Select Committee.

    Philip Hammond

    Justine Greening becomes the fifth woman in David Cameron's Cabinet.

    Justine Greening

    Political satirist Alistair Beaton says Mr Fox's resignation adhered to a "tragicomedy" ritual in British politics in which a minister resigns rather being sacked.


    The BBC's Norman Smith adds that Mr Hammond was phoned by the prime minister to be given the news about his new post as he made his way to a constituency dinner in Kent.


    The BBC takes a look back at the key moments in the week that proved fatal to Liam Fox's career in front-line politics.


    The Guardian says Mr Fox's resignation came as no great surprise to his colleagues at the MoD. The weight of coverage over the last few days, and the revelations within them, made that inevitable, it says.

    Yinka Oyesanya in London

    writes: This is very good news. Politicians should understand that they have a responsibility to the people who have voted them into office. What was [Liam Fox] thinking about? Especially after the debacle of the MPs expenses scandal.


    An aide to Philip Hammond tells the BBC's Carole Walker that he is hugely honoured to be appointed defence secretary.

    He has been a big admirer of the armed forces all his life and is looking forward to his new job at the MoD, the aide says.


    Confused about what happened, and when? Check out the BBC's timeline on the Fox-Werritty relationship.


    Mr Hammond's promotion to one of the most high-profile posts in the cabinet comes after 17 months as transport secretary.

    The MP for Runnymede and Weybridge in Surrey since 1997, Mr Hammond's appointment was given the seal of approval by Conservative MP and former Army officer Patrick Mercer, who says there are "few safer or more trusted hands than his".


    This is the full extent of tonight's reshuffle:

    Philip Hammond, currently secretary of state for transport, to become secretary of state for defence.

    Justine Greening, currently economic secretary at the Treasury, to become secretary of state for transport.

    Chloe Smith, currently an assistant whip in the House of Commons, to become economic secretary at the Treasury.

    Greg Hands MP to become an assistant whip in the House of Commons.


    So here's a quick reminder of the day's events before we go.

    Liam Fox has resigned as defence secretary after a week of mounting pressure over his links with his best man and former flatmate Adam Werritty.

    In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Fox said that he had "mistakenly" allowed the distinction between his personal interest and government activities to become "blurred".

    Mr Fox's successor has been named as Philip Hammond, who was the transport secretary. Justine Greening takes over Mr Hammond's role.


    Thanks for joining us and don't forget to visit the BBC News website for all the latest developments on this story as it continues to unfold.


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