The Tory leadership contest has its front runners. It has its hopefuls. And, for some reason best known to him and him alone, it has disgraced former minister Liam Fox. That he is still prepared to engage in the charade of credibility, when he possesses none of it, is yet more mysterious. So perhaps it is an opportune time to remind the world why he - like his pal Michael “Oiky” Gove - is not fit to be let loose with the levers of power.
Liam Fox ... and his lobbying best friend
Fox was appointed as Defence Secretary by Young Dave as part of the 2010 Coalition Government. Not long afterwards, cuts were proposed to the defence budget. And soon after that, the leaks began, as Zelo Street noted at the time. I observed of the first leak “The content is the full text of a personal letter from Defence Secretary Liam Fox to Cameron”. There was a leak inquiry. The MoD was turned over.
Fox was said to be “hopping mad” at the leak. He called in the Military Police. This was, as I noted, a complete sham. While there was no conclusive evidence to link Fox to the leak, it was blindingly obvious that, had Fox not been in the vicinity, the leak would not have occurred. My conclusion was that Cameron should not hesitate - and that he should sack the SOB. He did not. This was a bad move on Dave’s part.
Why should that be? Well, less than two months later, there was another leak from the same department. Like the first leak, the letter concerned found its way to the Telegraph. As I observed at the time, “This event, which no doubt is mere coincidence, enabled the paper to assert that the defence review had ‘badly damaged the confidence and morale’ of military personnel. The leaked document was drawn up by senior officers, and civil servants working for Fox”. Sort of narrowed down the field, then.
Michael Heseltine, someone with some knowledge of Government, told that the first of the leaked letters “was written to be leaked”, which is code for saying Fox done it. But Cameron left him in post, and the following year the brown sticky stuff hit the fan with torrential force as Fox was forced to resign over his relationship with Adam Werritty.
Werritty accompanied Fox on many overseas trips, often passing himself off as an advisor to the then Defence Secretary. He was not subjected to any kind of security vetting. He was, as the Guardian put it, “the man he gave access to the heart of government and British defence strategy”. When Downing Street learned where the funding for Werritty’s lobbying activities came from, there was panic.
Some in the MoD liked Fox. But he should never have been put in post there, given his tendency to oversee a culture of leaking, and his relationship with Adam Werritty. Cameron, who trusted Fox despite the two not being close, would not trust him again with a significant role during his Premiership. All that should tell you all you need to know about his fitness for entering 10 Downing Street - or the lack of it.
Liam Fox should not be allowed anywhere near the Tory leadership. He’s bad news.