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Werritty quizzed in Fox inquiry

Liam Fox's close friend Adam Werritty has been interviewed by officials looking into allegations surrounding links between them.

Sources close to the inquiry said a conversation between Mr Werritty and Cabinet Office officials has taken place at an undisclosed location away from Whitehall.

Dr Fox apologised to Parliament on Monday for allowing lines between his personal and ministerial life to become "blurred" after it emerged that he met Mr Werritty 40 times over the past 18 months in the Ministry of Defence and during visits abroad.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the Defence Secretary had made "serious mistakes" and asked the UK's top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, to join an inquiry into their links.

Dr Fox's political career may depend on whether the inquiry finds that Mr Werritty benefited financially from their links. Questions were mounting over Mr Werritty's financial affairs, as The Times reported that his three known consultancies have earned him little more than £20,000 in four years.

In the Commons, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman demanded to know why the investigation into Dr Fox's links with Mr Werritty was not being carried out by independent adviser on ministerial standards, Sir Philip Mawer.

Speaking at Deputy Prime Minister's Questions, she told Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg: "You have always lectured us on high standards in public office, but while the Defence Secretary by his own admission has fallen short of those standards the Government has failed to refer him to the independent adviser on ministers' interests, Sir Philip Mawer."

Ms Harman added:"Doesn't this show that they are prepared to sacrifice high standards in public office to protect the Secretary of State?". She then went on: "There is clearly a need for investigation, not least into whether Mr Werritty profited by his association with the Secretary of State. This goes to the heart of trust in government."

Mr Clegg told her: "The Cabinet Secretary is looking into this, as requested by you and your party until you changed your tune just a day or two ago. He is doing that report and until we have got that report, and until that report has been delivered to the Prime Minister, I think there's no point trying to provide a running commentary on a series of facts which aren't yet revealed in that report."

Mr Clegg said Sir Gus should be allowed to complete his work "so that the full facts can be made available to the Prime Minister and then decisions can be made".


From Belfast Telegraph