Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Boulter Wades In Again: Werritty Loved First Class Travel

Harvey Boulter isn’t the most reliable of witnesses but he raises some intriguing points. He just did an interview with the BBC that could only be described as a hand-grenade. He described Fox’s version of events around their meeting in Dubai as “half truths”. He said Adam Werritty boasted of his love of first class travel…

Boulter also said he told the Guardian to go and “do their homework” when they told him Werritty wasn’t working for them. Given Boulter discussed sensitive information regarding his business and legal disputes, he is demanding to know who paid for Air Miles Adam, but stopped short of accusing him of outright corporate espionage. Petrol on the fire…

The Hand of Basher

David Davis is a natural contender to replace Liam Fox:

And it seems he is well aware of this fact…

UPDATE: The cracks are starting to show –  Patrick Mercer, who would love the job, has told the World at One:

“The Secretary of State for Defence is running a ministry which is under serious financial strictures but much more imp is fighting certainly one hot war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the remains of a campaign in Libya and with all sorts of difficulties and problems and further campaigns and involvement on the horizon.The last thing that busy civil servants need and busy uniformed staff inside the Ministry of Defence is this sort of distraction with their boss.”

Fox and the £100,000 Question

Despite obvious security flaws, saucy innuendo and the potential of government work being done off the books, it’s the paper trail that will decide Fox’s fate. Joe Murphy over at the Standard has been crunching the numbers:

“I’ve done an analysis based on British Airways fares to the various destinations, which included Dubai five times, plus Hong Kong Washington and Singapore twice each.  Exact costs are impossible to determine because fares vary according to demand so I’m basing this on return flights taken this week. Flying in BA’s cheapest economy seats, the 18 trips would cost £25,000 in tickets.  However, if Mr Werritty went business class, his ticket expenses alone would have gone up to £77,146. Now let’s add in two nights stay each trip in a typical £200 a night business hotel, costing another £7,200. That would take the total travel cost to £85,000. But then there are all those dinners at the sort of costly restaurants where one might just bump into a millionaire private equity boss.  With such high subsistence costs, he could easily have spent over £100,000.”

Company House records show that Werritty, who is being interviewed as part of the Cabinet Office/MoD investigation today, has barely made a quarter of that sum through his various consultancy arms. So where did the money come from? Who paid Adam’s way? Until this is answered, this story will not go away…

Fox Speaks Out, Sort Of

“Friends of Liam Fox” have been in touch with Ben Brogan over at the Telegraph:

“I gather he is close to a put up or shut up moment about his private life: if his pursuers have something to say they should say it out loud rather than whisper speculation, he tells friends.”

Given that it’s Liam’s “friends” that have got him into this mess in the first place, Guido would take what they say with a pinch of salt, but he’s certainly surprised that Fox would take that high-risk route. The last roll of the dice?

Fox Trotting: A Meeting In Every Port

London, Israel, Bahrain, Switzerland, Hong Kong, DC, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Qatar, Spain and Florida.

Even Robinson was spluttering last night…

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fox: MoD Initial Findings

“A grey area”…

Fox: “Why Don’t You Just Say What You Mean, Kevan?”

Labour’s Chris Bryant did his part to muddy the waters around Liam Fox this morning by tweeting: “I’m perplexed by this smear and innuendo about ‘smears and innuendo’.” An infinite loop of smear and innuendo…

There is a rumour doing the rounds that the Guardian have been sitting on some rather saucy details about Werritty and Fox since last Thursday, with the editor believing that Fox’s position is untenable without the need for the full picture being disclosed. In the mean time the rest of the media seem to be trying rather hard to get a message out there…

Sky News defence correspondent Niall Paterson said in a live broadcast that the Defence Secretary is “not normal”. He later sent a tweet presumably in an attempt at clarification claiming “’twas in the context of making clear that secs of state don’t usually bring their pals on trips”. Quite.

The Mail have a bit of a mixed message. Political Editor James Chapman has gone on the attack, implying that Labour are playing dirty:

“Last night, for instance, Labour’s defence spokesman Kevan Jones, responding to Dr Fox’s apology, declared: ‘This is a man in denial.’ Why don’t you just say what you mean, Kevan?”

Yet his Mail colleague Peter McKay has gone the furthest of any hack yet, pushing the same idea as Kevan Jones:

“There is a final, delicate reason why Cameron and Co might have shied away from dealing with Fox’s private and public association with Werritty. Although Fox has denied rumours that he is gay, his friendship with Werritty seems to go beyond what many might consider is normal in male friendships. But the more-inclusive-than-thou Cameron would instinctively steer clear of querying it.”

“Querying”, eh?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fox Favourite to Exit Cabinet

The news that the PM wants the initial findings of a Ministry of Defence inquiry into Defence Secretary Liam Fox on his desk by Monday has bookies now making Liam evens favourite to be the next to exit the cabinet.

The relationship with Adam Werritty, who has no official role in government, is coming under close scrutiny. Werrity had a paid role with the controversial Atlantic Bridge charity which was run out of Fox’s parliamentary office before being struck off the charity register, ran a health consultancy in which Fox was an investor (he was shadow Health Secretary) and now seems to be dealing with defence contractors now Fox is Defence Minister. Never mind accompanying him on trips to Sri Lanka and running a defence consultancy out of the London flat he shares with Fox.  All the time flashing a business card which overstates his role as an “advisor to the Rt Hon Dr Fox MP”.  It looks pretty bad that Werrity is in and out of the MoD on a regular basis.

Fox is in Libya, the papers and the opposition are hounding him. One wonders what Fox’s wife Ms Baird thinks of it all?

Friday, October 7, 2011

That Awkward Fox Business Card

Despite not being on Liam Fox’s Register of Staff Interests, this is the business card that Adam Werritty, the Defence Secretary’s former flatmate, best man and trip companion has been touting round Westminster:

Fox has said it is unacceptable for Werritty to say he is an advisor, but he needs to clear up whether his office had anything to do with the cards. Like paying for them out the stationery budget…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There’s More Than One Cunning Fox

Once again one of Liam’s little letters has made its way into the papers. Again he is protesting his innocence, and this time he’s not the only suspect.

“A source close to Dr Fox” said “the Defence Secretary fully supports the principle of a 0.7% target on international aid.” Yet his letter will be seen, by the Tory right and grassroots, at the very least, as a rejection of what a growing number believe to be an absurd policy. While we scrap aircraft carriers, we thank Pakistan for all their help recently by sending them hundreds of millions….

But who else would benefit from this row being out in the open? Which ambitious and restless colleague was consulted and is mentioned in the first sentence of the letter:

Dear David Cameron
I have considered the issue carefully, and discussed it with Andrew [Mitchell] and William Hague, but I cannot support the proposal in its current form….

Could maneuvering Mitchell be doing a little fox-hunting?

It’s clear Mitchell would have known the letter was coming and he has a stake in the fight, but could it have been even more Machiavellian? Downing Street don’t want a reshuffle just yet, and this debate has distracted nicely from Huhne’s problems for a couple of hours. Who knows, maybe this is even the beginning of another government u-turn. This time to throw a bone to the Tory-core vote, that held up, rather than the electorally decimated LibDems.


Seen Elsewhere

Bercow’s £12,000 of VIP Sporting Freebies | Sun
Aldous Huxley v George Orwell | FatPita
Blinkered BBC is Ripe for Reform | David Keighley
Calls for Bercow to Face Inquiry | Mail
Labour Mad to Fight Tories on Tax | Dan Hodges
Right to be Forgotten is a Disaster | Padraig Reidy
Dave Could Be Finished Before 50 | James Forsyth
Why Do Politicians Keep Getting Caught on Tape? | BBC
Ed Guru: It’s Good to Tax the Dead | Mail
Dave Must Get Serious or He Will Lose | Tim Montgomerie
Polling Averages Trend | PoliticalBetting.com


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Knifed former civil service chief Bob Kerslake on his recent troubles:

“Many thks for kind wishes following back opn. Incision measured 16cm. A pretty big knife in the back! Photos on request.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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