Meet Liam Fox For Cash

This arrived in Guido’s inbox at 12.48. It will no longer cost you a £10,000 retainer with a lobbying firm for some face-time with Liam:

Hammersmith Conservative Association Annual Dinner – Tuesday 29th November

All of our members will also receive an invitation in the post, but can I take this opportunity to formally invite you all to our Hammersmith Conservative Association Annual Dinner for 2011.

· We have great pleasure in announcing that the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for Defence will be our speaker. I am sure he will be a lively and fascinating speaker.

· The dinner will be at Jamie’s Italian, Ariel Way – a fabulous location with excellent food.

· Tickets: £65. Dress: lounge suit.

Cheques made payable to Mr. A. Werritty?

Fox Off – CONFIRMED

UPDATE: Sources confirm he has gone and it was his connections to private spook outfit G3 that pushed him over the edge.

The Dear Liam Letter

Dear Liam,

Thank you for your letter.

I understand your reasons for deciding to resign as Defence Secretary, although I am very sorry to see you go.

We have worked closely for these last six years, and you have been a key member of my team throughout that time.

You have done a superb job in the 17 months since the election, and as Shadow Defence Secretary before that.

You have overseen fundamental changes in the Ministry of Defence and in our Armed Forces, which will ensure that they are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the modern era.

On Libya, you played a key role in the campaign to stop people being massacred by the Gaddafi regime and instead win their freedom.

You can be proud of the difference you have made in your time in office, and in helping our party to return to Government.

I appreciate your commitment to the work of this Government, particularly highlighting the need to tackle the deficit, and the relationship between Britain’s economic strength and our national security.

You and Jesme have always been good friends, and I have truly valued your support over the years. I will continue to do so in the future.

Yours ever,

David

 

Full Fox Letter

The inevitable Dear David:

Dear David,

As you know, I have always placed a great deal of importance on accountability and responsibility. As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my Government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.

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. I am particularly proud to have overseen the long overdue reforms to the Ministry of Defence and to our Armed Forces, which will shape them to meet the challenges of the future and keep this country safe.

I am proud also to have played a part in helping to liberate the people of Libya, and I regret that I will not see through to its conclusion Britain’s role in Afghanistan, where so much progress has been made. Above all, I am honoured and humbled to have worked with the superb men and women in our Armed Forces. Their bravery, dedication and professionalism are second to none.

I appreciate all the support you have given me – and will continue to support the vital work of this Government, above all in controlling the enormous budget deficit we inherited, which is a threat not just to this country’s economic prosperity but also to its national security.

I look forward to continuing to represent my constituents in North Somerset.

Yours ever,

Liam

Defence Secretary Runners and Riders

With Fox looking more and more likely to walk today, it’s time to turn attention to who might take over:

  • Andrew Mitchell – Been deadly silent all week, has had it in for Fox for months, known on the international stage.
  • Philip Hammond – Mr Clean Up.
  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind  – Was heavily tipped to take over if Hague had to walk, and has been brought out as an elder statesman this summer.
  • David Davis – An easy “one out, one in” for the Tory right but Dave said to still be sceptical.
  • Owen Paterson – The “happily married”* Northern Ireland Secretary has impressed in his brief.
  • Chris Grayling – Demoted after a poor election campaign, about time for a comeback?
  • Jeremy Browne – LibDem outrider, right-winger in the FCO.
  • Paddy Ashdown – Popular bar talk for LibDems but unlikely.
  • IDS  – More than qualified but said to be very happy where he is.

The bookies have stopped taking bets on Fox to go and you can put your money on his successor here.

* Copyright Kevin Maguire

Oliver Letwin tells Sky News

“It is of course embarrassing.”

Rumour Mill Says Fox Might Go Tonight

And so the “Dear David/Dear Liam” rumour mill begins. Paul Waugh tweets that he is picking up chatter that Fox will walk tonight. It would make sense and take the sting out the inevitable savaging by the Sundays, but then it would also be out of character. Guido did a quick text around to be told the it was a load of cobblers. But then they will say that until they are setting up a microphone…

UPDATE: Speculation mounting. Think it’s Foxtrot Oscar time…

Letbin Larks

A certain bin in St James’s Park is getting a lot of attention today. Sky News found this when they arrived:

Given the sign is laminated, it seems someone has gone to a lot of effort to take the mick out of Oliver Letwin…

Friday Caption Contest (Survival Tips Edition)

Whoever can come up with the wittiest conversation between the two weakest links in Cabinet chain will win a pair of tickets to A Walk On Part – The stage adaptation of former Labour MP Chris Mullin’s diaries.

Fox’s diaries will be worth a read soon…

The Emerging Accounts Mystery

The Times allegations against Adam Werritty and his funders are so explosive because they are so detailed. Not only do they have the £147,000 coming in, but they also have the breakdown of account spending across the world which would imply the paper has seen all of the bank details. Clues to who might have leaked those are littered throughout the story:

“Oliver Hylton, a charity adviser to the head of CQS, a multibillion-pound hedge fund, befriended Mr Werritty through mutual Tory contacts. He became a director of Security Futures, the now defunct defence and energy consultancy that was also established by Mr Werritty, and agreed to become the sole director of Pargav in June last year — a move he acknowledged was “naive”. He came into my office and said I want to set up a new company. It sounds ridiculously naive in hindsight, but I agreed. I signed the documents and nothing more,” Mr Hylton said.”

As Guido reported yesterday CQS have bought in the spinners in order to handle this story and a quick glance over the list of other donors does not point to anyone who would have had the same access to the books. Given that he had a desk there, Werritty would have been in and out of the CQS offices, but it’s the “naive” Mr Hylton who, as the sole director, would have had to sign off said accounts…

UPDATE: Since publishing this post Guido has more and more reason to believe in a collusion between CQS/Hintze/Bell and this Times story. The other explanation is someone blagged the bank accounts of course. Lots of private spooks about…

UPDATE II: Oliver Hylton has been suspended suggesting he was the source of the leak.

Let Letwin Be Letbin

Oh dear, the Mirror have Letwin bang to rights with photographs taken by resident Downing Street pap Steve Back of Political Pictures, who followed the eccentric Cabinet Office Minister through St James’s Park early in the morning as he strolled along catching up, and then binning, constituency business. There was no sensitive or government material retrieved, but you have to wonder quite how far Letwin’s head is in the blue-sky if he didn’t pause for one moment to think this might have bin a bit silly…

The Detail That The Guardian Left Out Last Week

As the Fox saga rumbles on, this morning’s front-pages will be the most difficult for the Defence Secretary to face since Monday. The money trail is unravelling a rapid pace. However, it was a small detail in the Guardian story about the stag night of Fox’s official adviser Luke Coffey, that has got chins wagging. They claim that Fox extended his stop-over in Dubai on the way back from the front for “a boozy affair; they were drinking huge cocktails and they caused quite a stir.” Fox was not on leave at the time:

Fox arrived in Dubai on 17 June and immediately met Werritty. After their meeting with Dubai-based British businessman Harvey Boulter on the 41st floor of the Shangri-la hotel the pair are understood to have spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool and in Werritty’s hotel room.

There was a lot of speculation that the Guardian were leaving certain details out of their reporting last week in the expectation that they could get Fox regardless. As he digs in, it seems those concerns have gone out of the window…

UPDATE: Though it’s behind the The Times paywall, the most damning revelation today is the fact that one of the donors to Air Miles Adam was a private intelligence firm. Werritty’s non-profit Pargrav is under intense scrutiny:

“Details of Pargav’s accounts, seen by The Times, show that G3 Good Governance Group, a strategic advisory company, Tamares Real Estate, an investment company owned by Poju Zabludowicz, the chairman of BICOM — an organisation that lobbies the British Government on behalf of Israel — and Jon Moulton, a venture capitalist, were among more than six different entities that each paid up to £35,000 to Pargav since October last year”

Tricky…



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