The scandal over Tory defence minister Liam Fox and a “defence adviser” shows the corruption at the heart of the establishment.
Fox admitted meeting lobbyist Adam Werritty 40 times in 16 months.
Werritty had joined Fox on 18 overseas visits since May 2010, including official trips, and skiing holidays.
Werritty, who describes himself as having “defence-related business interests”, also met Fox 22 times at the Ministry of Defence’s HQ in London.
The jaunts included meetings with arms dealers and Nato generals and diplomats.
Fox claims the meetings were accidental. It is claimed that they did not discuss business on any of the meetings. This would make Werritty the worst lobbyist in the world. It also doesn’t explain why he had business cards, identifying him as an advisor to Liam Fox.
In a strange phrase, Fox claimed, “I am confident that Werritty was not dependent on any transactional behaviour to maintain his income.”
In the past, Werritty was paid £5,800 as an intern in Fox’s office. He also ran the right wing “think-tank” Atlantic Bridge from the minister’s parliamentary office.
Atlantic Bridge didn’t produce much thinking. But it did organise a lot of flights for meet-ups between US and British right-wingers, while getting tax breaks as a charity.
Tory MP Chris Grayling, who ran Fox’s failed leadership campaign in 2005, was on its advisory council. George Osborne, Michael Gove, William Hague, and of course Fox himself, were on it too.
The so-called charity was wound up last week just as the scandal was about to break.
Werritty did get a salary from Atlantic Bridge. He became its executive director and was paid a total of £90,000 between 2007 and 2010.
Werritty’s interests have followed Fox’s. He joined lobbyists UK Health as a consultant—at the time, Fox was shadow health secretary. Two years later, he became director of UK Health Group Ltd, in which he and Fox were shareholders.
Drug firm Pfizer paid for a full time researcher for Atlantic Bridge, who was based in Fox’s office. Then he became a director of UK Health Supply Services, which has been dissolved.
Another company, Security Futures, appeared in 2005—the year Fox became shadow defence secretary.
The Tories want to brush the complicated mire of relations they have with lobbyists in general and the arms industry in particular under the carpet.
But it wasn’t cunning that was keeping Fox in office as Socialist Worker went to press.
It was fear.