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Cameron 'worried' by MoD leaks

Prime Minister David Cameron has aimed an apparent dig at his Defence Secretary Liam Fox, by telling senior MPs that his department had "a problem with leaks".

Mr Cameron said it was "worrying" that confidential Ministry of Defence documents had found their way into national newspapers.

And he said the leak of a private letter from Dr Fox in September, in which he warned of the impact of proposed cuts in the MoD's budget, had "added to the pressure" ahead of last month's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Mr Cameron's comments came as a new leaked MoD document warned the confidence and morale of Britain's armed forces has been "badly damaged" by the Government's handling of the defence review.

The document - seen by the Daily Telegraph - said the process was rushed, international allies were not properly consulted and ministers failed to keep the forces informed of where the axe was going to fall.

Dr Fox dismissed the paper, marked "restricted", as an unauthorised assessment drawn up by a junior official, whose conclusions he rejected.

The SDSR set in train a process of cuts which will see the armed forces lose warships, tanks, fast jet fighters and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen over the coming years in a bid to slash defence spending.

During the course of negotiations ahead of the review, the Telegraph published a private letter from Dr Fox in which the Defence Secretary warned Mr Cameron of the "grave consequences" of "draconian" cuts to his department.

Dr Fox has always denied leaking the letter, and launched an official hunt to find the source.

Asked about the incident during an appearance before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Mr Cameron said: "Ministers stand up for their departments and make the case for their departments. Sometimes they do it orally, sometimes it appears in a letter. Regrettably, sometimes it appears in national newspapers."

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