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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 October 2011

Fox takes cronyism to new level

Manny Thain

Fox by name, fox by nature it seems. For despite the mounting and overwhelming evidence of cronyism against Tory MP Liam Fox, the defence minister remains in his post (at least as the Socialist goes to press!).

Over a number of years, Fox has allowed his old friend, best man, flatmate and business associate, Adam Werritty, an office at taxpayers' expense, access, more recently, to the Ministry of Defence and participation in meetings with business people without the presence of civil servants. All the while, Werritty had no official position or security clearance.

The revelations have reached critical mass, sparking a crisis at the centre of David Cameron's government. A spotlight is being shone on Fox's dealings - and the trail of denials and retractions in their wake. As an anonymous 'fellow minister' said: "He has fingers in so many pies that you kind of think one of them will land him in trouble somewhere along the line." (The Observer, 9 October)

There was, for example, a meeting in a five-star hotel in Dubai in June between private equity boss, Harvey Boulter, Werritty and the 'flying Fox', as he is known because of his frequent trips abroad. When challenged by the Guardian newspaper, Fox initially denied that the meeting had taken place. He then tried to make out that it had followed a chance encounter in a restaurant. Boulter disagreed: "The fact that a meeting was going to happen was prearranged in April. A meeting with the ministry of defence doesn't happen by chance." (The Observer, 9 October)

One of Fox's long-standing contacts is Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka. At the end of last year, Fox met Rajapaksa in the Dorchester hotel, London, just as urgent calls were being raised for an investigation into war crimes by Rajapaksa's regime in its genocidal war against Tamil-speaking people. Footage from Sri Lankan TV shows Werritty present. Fox says that this was not an official meeting.

In July, Fox visited Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka on an official trip. Werritty was seen at an event in which they were all present. This time, the MoD maintains that Fox was there to give a lecture in public at which, coincidentally, Werritty was present. No doubt Fox will come up with reasons for the 22 times Werritty is known to have visited him at the MoD in the past 16 months, and the 18 times they met up on foreign trips!

In the House of Commons on 10 October, Fox muddied the waters further. When asked whether Werritty made money from any of these meetings and contacts, he merely said that Werritty was not financially dependent on the contact with him.

Before Fox got his job in the government he had been shadow minister for health and then defence, while Werritty was a health industry 'consultant', then a defence lobbyist. It stinks, another example of this rotten political system, where those at the top put themselves first while the rest of us pick up the tab.

Cameron is desperately playing for time, although the editorial in the Financial Times (11 October) says that Fox's position is untenable.

Against the backdrop of severe economic crisis and the potential of massive strike action on 30 November and beyond, Cameron's government is riven with internal strife. It is giving the impression that it is drifting, impotent - while the politicians continue to be disgustingly self-serving.

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In The Socialist 12 October 2011:

Socialist Party youth and students

Interview with a Jarrow marcher

Marching in the footsteps of history

Low pay, no way!

Protest, demonstrate, occupy

International socialist news and analysis

US: Occupy Wall Street - Demanding jobs not cuts

Socialist Party workplace news

Strike on 30 November - no secret talks

'We have not gone away' say Southampton council workers

Construction electricians

60 printers sacked as bosses make a million

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

Sovereign debt crisis, recession... No way out under capitalism

Cameron's big 'them and us' society

Fox takes cronyism to new level

Wales Assembly budget: Labour piles on the misery

Kinnock's bigotry

Con-Dems' policies increase poverty

Fast news

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

NHS protesters occupy Westminster Bridge

Health campaigners take Ascot by storm

Coventry by-election helps build socialist alternative to cuts

London elections - more support for TU/anti-cuts stand

Socialist Party fundraising

Socialism 2011 finance appeal

Socialist history

Battle of Cable Street 1936 - When workers stopped the fascists

The Socialist - readers' comments

Portrait of a pension pilferer


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