Questions over Fox US fund-raiser
Defence Secretary Liam Fox and lobbyist Adam Werritty attended a 500 dollar-a-head dinner in Washington with senior figures from the defence industry which has not been declared by the Ministry of Defence, it has been reported.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Dr Fox and Mr Werritty were both guests at the £318-per-person fund-raising dinner last year at the Mandarin Oriental hotel attended by US defence industry lobbyists and military officials.
The event did not appear on the list of 18 occasions where Dr Fox and Mr Werritty both attended overseas engagements released earlier this week by the MoD. A spokesman for Dr Fox said that he had been attending the event in a "private capacity" during a period of annual leave and that the visit did not involve the use of taxpayers' money.
However, the disclosure is likely to lead to claims he has still not come clean about the full extent of his contacts with Mr Werritty, despite admitting to meeting him 40 times since coming to office last year - including twice on family holidays overseas.
The event in Washington was organised by US Atlantic Bridge - the sister organisation of the now defunct charity which Mr Werritty used to head in London. The organisation's chief executive Amanda Bowman told the Telegraph: "Adam was with him (Dr Fox). He showed up that night because he was travelling with Liam. He was Liam's most trusted friend, and was at one of the top tables talking to other guests."
Other guests at the dinner were said to have included General James Mattis, commander of US Central Command, several senators, and Jeffrey Gordon, a lobbyist who served as a spokesman for the then US defence secretary Robert Gates.
A spokesman Dr Fox said: "Dr Fox took annual leave to attend an awards ceremony in a purely private capacity, no taxpayers' money was spent on this visit." The spokesman added that during the visit Dr Fox had also met Mr Gates - a meeting at which he was accompanied by two British embassy officials "and no-one else".
Meanwhile, David Cameron is under growing pressure to reach a swift decision over Dr Fox's Cabinet. The Prime Minister has said he will await the outcome of a Whitehall inquiry into the Defence Secretary's links with Mr Werritty, before deciding whether he should keep his job.
But with Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, who is leading the investigation, not expected to complete his report until next week, the Government faces the prospect of more damaging disclosures over the coming days.
Meanwhile, details have emerged of how Mr Werritty allegedly funded his travels. According to The Times, a corporate intelligence company with an interest in Sri Lanka and a property investor who lobbies for Israel helped channel £147,000 into a not-for-profit company set up by Mr Werritty. Mr Werritty allegedly used some of the money to join Dr Fox on foreign trips, it was reported.