Werritty "paid to act as Fox's adviser" by wealthy donors

New allegations could be particularly damaging if found to be true.

How many days on the front pages does it take before a politician's career is over? Liam Fox has been weathering the storm so far, but allegations made today will be particularly damaging, if they are proved true.

The BBC is reporting that an anonymous "wealthy backer" of the Defence Secretary has admitted that he and several others raised money to pay for Adam Werritty to act as Fox's adviser.

According to the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, this person said that the group of donors shared Fox's ideological perspective. The source claimed that although the group did not have specific defence interests, they paid Werritty because he could be trusted to encourage support for Eurosceptic, pro-American and pro-Israeli policies -- unlike civil servants.

To an extent, this account conforms to that given by Werritty; that his 18 trips abroad were funded by ideologically sympathetic philanthropists. The Guardian reports that Werritty has admitted to the inquiry that he may have "unintentionally misled" some business associates about his relationship with Fox, allowing them to think he was an official aide.

So, it appears that this group of wealthy backers existed and funded Werritty. The key question is how much Fox knew. If the donors were explicitly paying Werritty to act as Fox's adviser, as the BBC's report implies, it will be increasingly difficult for Fox to continue to deny all knowledge of impropriety.

Having an adviser paid for by undeclared donors is almost certainly a breach of the ministerial code and so if this allegation is found to be true, it would be difficult for Fox to continue in his role.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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