14/10/2011 Newsnight


14/10/2011

All of the latest on Liam Fox's resignation, his time as defence secretary and the challenges which will face his successor.


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After the worst week of his political life, Liam Fox decided he

:00:12.:00:16.

had to go as he admits blurring personal interests and government

:00:16.:00:21.

activities. We have new revelations about his friend Adam Werritty's

:00:21.:00:23.

business links. The Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy with the Tory

:00:23.:00:28.

MP who says Dr Fox should not have quit. General Sir Mike Jackson will

:00:28.:00:32.

discuss the effect of having six defence secretaries in six years.

:00:32.:00:38.

At a time of big military cuts and two major conflict, we'll examine

:00:38.:00:41.

Liam Fox's legacy at the MoD. Also tonight, how will the Tory right

:00:41.:00:45.

react to losing one of their favourite sons and we'll discuss

:00:45.:00:54.

where this leaves the Coalition and David Cameron.

:00:55.:00:58.

Good evening. There's an old saying among military medics about being

:00:58.:01:02.

wounded in combat, if it looks bad, it is bad. The day by day

:01:02.:01:05.

revelations about Liam Fox and his friendship with Adam Werritty

:01:05.:01:08.

looked increasingly bad throughout the past week and that meant they

:01:08.:01:12.

were bad. Today Dr Fox decided he'd had enough and quit his job to be

:01:12.:01:15.

taken now by Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary. We'll get to

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the long-term political and military implications in a moment,

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but first, David Grossman is here with Higgs insights into what

:01:21.:01:25.

happened today and why. It looked increasingly inevitable,

:01:25.:01:30.

didn't it? I think that's a fair assessment. This has been one of

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the more inevitable resignations from the Cabinet in modern times,

:01:33.:01:37.

ever since the bare facts of this were known. I think all that was

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really delaying the departure was David Cameron's understandable

:01:41.:01:44.

reluctance to lose a Defence Secretary at a time of war and take

:01:44.:01:49.

the inevitable political hit that comes from losing any Cabinet

:01:49.:01:53.

minister. But what happened day after day has been that Liam Fox's

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story, or his account of what was going on has simply unravelled. At

:01:58.:02:03.

the beginning we were told these 41 meetings with Adam Werritty who

:02:03.:02:06.

had's been his bestman were simply friends getting together to chew

:02:06.:02:10.

over stuff. Now, over the days, a more complex picture has emerged.

:02:10.:02:14.

Today one of the donors who provided money for Adam Werritty

:02:14.:02:19.

says that it was Liam Fox who solicited those donations. The

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Cabinet secretary is looking at this matter and is about to report.

:02:22.:02:26.

I understand that one of the factors that tipped Liam Fox

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towards resignation is the knowledge that that assessment by

:02:28.:02:32.

the Cabinet secretary was going to be very critical. At the moment,

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when he resigned it was his decision but he knew it wasn't

:02:35.:02:42.

going to be his decision for much longer.

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There aren't many more important jobs in government, political

:02:47.:02:50.

oversight of the Armed Forces, defending the realm. What Liam Fox

:02:50.:02:54.

couldn't survive, though, was the impression that he was also at the

:02:54.:02:59.

same time running a parallel department.

:02:59.:03:03.

REPORTER: Is sorry enough? It's not like he didn't do his best to hang

:03:04.:03:08.

on, he even apologised. I accept that mistakes were made and I

:03:08.:03:13.

should not have allowed the impression of wrong-doing to arise.

:03:13.:03:20.

I'm very sorry for that. When that didn't work, well, he

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apologised again. I am sorry for this, I have apologised to the

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Prime Minister, to the public and at the first opportunity available

:03:25.:03:31.

to the House. Today there was no sign of the Defence Secretary, just

:03:31.:03:41.
:03:41.:04:06.

a whole load of rumours and then, I think if you look back at the

:04:06.:04:10.

events of the week, I think he's reached the right decision. I'm

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reluctant in that conclusion because I think he'll be a big loss

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to the MoD but when the story becomes as persistent as it has

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become, it does become a real distraction for the department

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concerned. I agree with his analysis that it was probably

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better for him to step aside and avoid disrupting the very important

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work of the Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces. Outside the MoD

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statues of heroes, Monty, of course, who did for the Desert Fox.

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What did for the Liam Fox? Forget all those complicated floep charts

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showing money going from that individual to that organisation, or

:04:43.:04:47.

that meeting and that obscure foreign location. What really did

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for him was the perception that even as Secretary of State for

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Defence, even in charge of the MoD here, he was, at the same time,

:04:54.:05:00.

running a sort of freelance policy operation beyond the control of the

:05:00.:05:03.

Government. The facts emerged slowly. The

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bestman at Dr Fox's wedding, Adam Werritty, we found out visited him

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at his office 22 times and on overseas visits 19 times, all since

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the last general election. Why? And who was paying? It appears

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it was political donors seeking to influence policy. Ministers have

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always had as it were groups of people who work for them on the

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side, people they mix with in Parliament, groups that they kept

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in touch with. That's perfectly acceptable if these things are open

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and they're understood. It's the gaining private advantage through

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public office of the minister that is wrong. It is deeply suspicious.

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Even if nothing wrong was happening, ie, no money was being made, no

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secrets were being given away, the rules are pretty clear. Just the

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perception of wrong-doing is wrong because it's against the public

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interest. Mr Werritty had been using a business card describing

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himself as an advisor, but crucially, he didn't have any

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official status. He did, though, arrange meetings, a meeting with

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the defence contractor at this Dubai hotel, Liam Fox was there but

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there was no civil servant present much

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There was also a meeting with the Sri Lankan President, again Adam

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Werritty was there, but no civil servant. The Cabinet secretary Gus

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O'Donnell is conducting an investigation. Labour says that

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investigation must now be widened. It will not be good enough just to

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say he's resign and it's not going any further. It's quite

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embarrassing for David Cameron because some of the same

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individuals who funded Adam Werritty's activities are quite

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major donors to David Cameron's campaigns as well in the

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Conservative Party. But Liam Fox is not without friends in his own

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party. They point to his successes, recently in Britain's involvement

:06:53.:06:55.

in Libya. It was this support that was one of

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the factors in meaning that David Cameron did not wish to be seen to

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be forcing him out prematurely. Very upset for him, a man of great

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honour and integrity. But also very angry at the media witch-hunt that

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has pursued him and ultimately played a very important part in

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forcing him out of office. I met with Liam a few nights ago for a

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drink. I could see the hurt, I think, that he was feeling. He has

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obviously put his party and his government ahead of his own

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interests. We have lost an incredibly efficient, hard-working

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Secretary of State for Defence. David Cameron, too, paid tribute to

:07:45.:07:51.

his departing minister. I quite understood why Liam Fox has decided

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to resign. Obviously I'm sorry to see him go because obviously he did

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a good job at the Ministry of Defence, clearing up the mess left

:07:58.:08:00.

by the last government and giving good leadership to that department,

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particularly while we've been in action in Libya and also, of course,

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in Afghanistan as well. New Defence Secretary is Philip Hammond. He

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moves from transport. That personnel change, the Government

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would like to mark the end of this matter. There are, though, too many

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unanswered questions still hanging around about Liam Fox and his

:08:18.:08:24.

bestman for that to be the case. With me now our correspondent

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Richard Watson who spent the week investigating the many questions

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raised by the friendship of Dr Fox and Adam Werritty. Richard, you

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learnt some new information today, did you not? Yeah, I think the most

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damaging material to come out really concerns this, not for

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profit company funded by donors who supported Liam Fox's political

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ideology on the right. That seems to be the vehicle by which Adam

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Werritty was funding his five-star lifestyle around the world.

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Crucially one of these big donors came out tonight and confirmed that

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Liam Fox approached him, claimed he approached him after the election

:09:02.:09:05.

for funding and I think that raises some very big questions indeed. The

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way this story emerged today is also instructive. At 2pm I received

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a phone call from a source saying that Pargav's sole director had

:09:15.:09:20.

been suspended from his job with a a major hedge fund company run by a

:09:20.:09:26.

man called Michael Hindusy and he has been a big donor to the

:09:26.:09:29.

Conservative Party as well. That point the writer was on the wall,

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if you have a big donor to the Conservative Party pulling out the

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draw bridge, creating clear water between him and this story, the

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inevitable would follow and two hours later he resigned.

:09:40.:09:42.

uncovered some new information about what might have been going on

:09:42.:09:46.

on that trip to Sri Lanka which was after that very brutal civil war in

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the country? The Sri Lankan story, I think is quite Jermaine to this,

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central to this, what I've been told by a very well pleased source

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is that within the last three to four months there were serious

:09:57.:10:04.

concerns expressed by some Foreign Office officials here in London

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that Adam Werritty was pursuing a kind of argument that went along

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the following lines - now the civil war is over it's time to rebuild

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relationship with Sri Lanka, fair enough, but those contracts he

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suggested would flow would include some kind of defence-related

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material, highly controversial. The same source told me at that a

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second set of officials, this time in the Department for International

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Development had similar concerns recently as well. They were saying

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that Mr Werritty was pursuing a similar argument saying Britain

:10:31.:10:34.

should be in the business of big construction contracts to Sri Lanka

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and what about including defence- related contracts as a kind of

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added incentive to make Britain very competitive indeed. Where does

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it leave us? I suppose ultimately in summary it has been a week of

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drip, drip in evidence and allegations. It proved too much in

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the end but of course there could still be quite a lot to come out.

:10:53.:10:55.

We have the official inquiry next week. Thank you very much.

:10:55.:10:58.

We wanted to speak to Dr Fox tonight or any member of the

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Government, we were told that no- one was available. But with us now,

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the Conservative MP and friend of Dr Fox, Peter Bone and the Shadow

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Defence Secretary Jim Murphy. Mr Bone, given all that, and given

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that he was a daily distrabg in the past week, he had -- distraction in

:11:15.:11:19.

the past week, he had to absolutely go? I don't think so. I think it

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would be in the national interest for Dr Fox to remain. There were

:11:22.:11:25.

allegations and tittle-tattle but there was no suggestion he breached

:11:25.:11:28.

national security, no suggestion that there was any corruption on

:11:28.:11:32.

the part of Dr Fox. Now, he put, of course, the country first rather

:11:32.:11:36.

than his personal career and resign because, because the media was in

:11:36.:11:41.

such a frenzy. Hold on, though, the media will do what the media will

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do, but this was somebody who was told by Number 10 that could you

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hang on, of course, and wait for Gus O'Donnell's report next week.

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The Labour Party, I'm sure Jim Murphy will confirm it, Jim Murphy

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wasn't saying you could resign, he could have held on. He must have

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realised he did something wrong. Only the BBC could say that.

:12:00.:12:04.

said it today. Why not accept the obvious. That he resigned because

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he did something wrong? Absolutely not. He resigned because he did

:12:08.:12:11.

something right? Yes, he put the country first. Because of the

:12:12.:12:15.

frenzy that you and others have built up, he was distracting from

:12:15.:12:20.

the job and he decided to go. I think that was typical of Liam.

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Murphy, the case is closed, the man has gone, it's over. The case

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hasn't closed. We actually don't know why Liam resigned today. We

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can speculate. He put the country first. We know that's not the case.

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Peter has to say it and that's fine. I happen to believe that. Sorry,

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Peter, that's unkind for me to say you were doing your job then.

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Believe you to be wrong, but. I never called for his resignation. I

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had say. Why not? I think too often opposition politicians whether when

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Labour was in power and the Tories did it or when Tories are in power

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Labour perhaps in the past have done it, in a sense, if you throw

:12:56.:13:01.

about demands for resignations like confetti, it's devalued as a

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currency. I think Liam, like every politician, is entitled to a fair

:13:04.:13:07.

hearing, there was an inquiry, it should have run its course but

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unfortunately for Liam, as the evidence has emerged Liam has

:13:10.:13:14.

decided he can't go on. He'd become a distraction, I'm suggesting to

:13:14.:13:17.

you this is now over. What more do you want to know? Two things, Liam

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did break the rules, Government has rules and ministers have standards.

:13:21.:13:25.

He's paid a high price. Liam fell below his own standards and broke

:13:25.:13:28.

the Government's rules in terms of the code of conduct of the the

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second thing here is we need to find out whags this source of

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money? What is the flow of money -- what is this sorgs of money? Liam

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treated Adam Werritty as a good friend, Adam Werritty seemed to

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treat Liam Fox as some sort of franchise to make money from. We

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need to know as part of the inquiry, where's the money? Why has Liam

:13:47.:13:50.

decided. Let's carry out the investigation and if need be

:13:50.:13:54.

broaden the investigation further. Do you agree with that? I think we

:13:54.:13:57.

have to see what the report says. I agree with Jim that he looked

:13:57.:14:00.

embarrassed in the House of Commons earlier this week when behind him

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Labour backbenchers were baying for Liam Fox's blood. He's a good guy,

:14:05.:14:09.

Jim, he was reluctantly pushing the party line but you could see his

:14:09.:14:13.

heart wasn't in. What did you make of the innuendos and some would say

:14:13.:14:16.

smears this week? That's what it was all about. It was like reading

:14:16.:14:22.

a soap op radio, wasn't it. It was -- opera, wasn't it. Soap operas

:14:22.:14:25.

decide whether you get rid of a minister or not. In this case I

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think there is a national interest involved. I would like Jim to tell

:14:29.:14:33.

me, does he think it's in the national interest, think of our men

:14:33.:14:37.

abroad, fighting in Libya and Afghanistan, that Liam Fox has left.

:14:37.:14:39.

I've always said I would rather be discussing and debateing the

:14:40.:14:42.

Government's defence policy rather than the Government's Defence

:14:42.:14:46.

Minister. Neither Peter nor I created this crisis and neither did

:14:46.:14:49.

the BBC, Liam Fox created this crisis by having such a close

:14:49.:14:53.

professional relationship in such a murky business where it emerges

:14:53.:14:56.

this evening that Liam appears to have the solicited donations for an

:14:56.:14:58.

organisation that Mr Werritty worked for, that was then providing

:14:58.:15:02.

with advice and support. This is entirely of Liam's making, but he's

:15:02.:15:04.

done the right thing. Peter shouldn't blame the press. The res

:15:04.:15:09.

are doing their job. A narrow point, are you worried about the changing

:15:09.:15:17.

composition of the Government, that the raoeult, as it were, somewhat

:15:17.:15:20.

under represented.? Another context of this, I'm from the right of the

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party. I didn't think we were very well represented in the Cabinet.

:15:23.:15:26.

Now I think we're grossly underrepresented. I think what's

:15:26.:15:30.

going to happen in the next few weeks or months, the inevitable re-

:15:30.:15:34.

shuffle has to occur and the balance in the Cabinet has to to be

:15:34.:15:38.

put right. We need to have people in the Cabinet who represent the

:15:38.:15:41.

Conservative Party. We have five Liberals representing the Liberal

:15:41.:15:45.

Democrats. I think the most concerned person this evening isn't

:15:45.:15:49.

people, it will be Chris Huhne, because the inLib Dems sat their

:15:49.:15:52.

silently and defended the Defence Secretary because they knew if they

:15:52.:15:55.

took out the Defence Secretary Peter and others would respond by

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retaliateing against Chris Huhne. It was more like a protection

:15:58.:16:02.

racket than a Coalition Government. You said you would like a debate

:16:02.:16:06.

about the future of defence in this country. The big debate, but six

:16:06.:16:09.

defence secretaries in six years four of them Labour, one after the

:16:09.:16:12.

other, they didn't last very long. You are, it is allege by Mr Fox and

:16:12.:16:16.

others, Dr Fox and others, partly responsible for the chaos at the

:16:16.:16:19.

MoD. That's a wider debate and we can discuss that this evening if

:16:19.:16:22.

you wish. But the fact is, the Government had a defence review

:16:22.:16:26.

that Liam oversaw, that he thought was the right thing to do for the

:16:26.:16:30.

country. But I think it was a short-term measure driven by the

:16:30.:16:34.

deficit reduction plan going too deeply. We have an island nation

:16:34.:16:40.

with a -- with an aircraft-carrier that will have a holiday from

:16:40.:16:43.

aircraft. Those sorts of decisions are peculiar, I hope the new man in

:16:43.:16:47.

the job takes a fresh look at some of these decisions so they make

:16:47.:16:50.

sense. Thank you both. There are never easy times nowadays

:16:50.:16:53.

for the British military but Dr Fox's resignation comes during a

:16:53.:16:58.

war in Afghanistan, of course, conflict in Libya and a profound

:16:58.:17:01.

reorganisation as we've just been hearing and budget cuts at the MoD.

:17:01.:17:05.

The forces are still coming to taoerpls with the Strategic Defence

:17:05.:17:08.

and Security Review which Dr Fox oversaw. He fought battles against

:17:08.:17:12.

the Treasury and Downing Street on the cuts and awkwardly for the

:17:12.:17:14.

Coalition his concerns became public. In the end he had to accept

:17:14.:17:18.

sweeping job cuts in all three services, the axing of Harrier

:17:18.:17:23.

jumpjets, the Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal and planned Nimrod spy

:17:23.:17:27.

planes. On the battlefield or above it, Libya has revealed gaps in what

:17:27.:17:30.

British forces can actually do nowadays. After ten years in

:17:30.:17:33.

Afghanistan no-one thinks that the war there is anywhere near being

:17:33.:17:37.

won, whatever that might mean. His successor, Philip Hammond, the

:17:37.:17:40.

sixth Defence Secretary in six years somehow has to maintain

:17:40.:17:43.

motheral, support troops who are risking their lives and keep going

:17:43.:17:48.

with cuts and reforms. With me is our defence editor, Mark

:17:48.:17:51.

Urban, will he be thought of, leaving what we've been talking

:17:51.:17:55.

about aside, will he be thought of as a good Defence Secretary? There

:17:55.:17:59.

are many people in Whitehall who say precisely that, he came into

:17:59.:18:03.

the MoD at an extremely difficult time, a very overspent organisation,

:18:04.:18:06.

an organisation where the political contradictions within the Labour

:18:06.:18:11.

Party about Iraq, Afghanistan, had led to such a light political touch

:18:11.:18:14.

on the tiller that it was pretty much rudderless, many people

:18:14.:18:17.

thought the service chiefs were having things far too much their

:18:17.:18:21.

own way, loading in projects into the programme you unsustainable. It

:18:21.:18:25.

needed a big character to turn it all around, to get the Strategic

:18:26.:18:29.

Defence and Security Review in, and many people feel that Liam Fox was

:18:29.:18:33.

precisely that man and that he had the force and personality to do so

:18:33.:18:36.

and therefore this is a considerable loss. We've heard

:18:36.:18:39.

Peter Bone and many of his other friends coming out today talking

:18:39.:18:44.

about him but he made some enemies, too. Precisely for those same

:18:44.:18:48.

reasons the force of character, the fact that he knew his own mind on

:18:48.:18:52.

many of these key issues. He came in there, for example, saying "we

:18:52.:18:57.

will get rid of one major combat aircraft type in the RAF", a thing

:18:57.:19:00.

that cascaded down into this decision to get rid of the Harriers

:19:00.:19:04.

eventually. He knew his mind on that issue. He did upset people. It

:19:04.:19:07.

was precisely part of his strategy to get the military back on the

:19:07.:19:11.

leash that upset many people. Then a few months ago, for example, when

:19:11.:19:15.

he announced that the powers of the service chiefs were being trimmed.

:19:15.:19:18.

He said in the House of Commons they don't need to be so involved

:19:18.:19:21.

in strategy, almost implying it was a waste of their time, they

:19:21.:19:24.

shouldn't be worried about this. One service chief described that

:19:24.:19:29.

remark to me as "disgusting". He certainly had many enemies,

:19:29.:19:32.

particularly within the senior ranks of the military. People who

:19:32.:19:37.

would not be, sorry to see him ago and, of course, the MoD is in the

:19:37.:19:42.

process of making those, some of those war fighters from Libya and

:19:42.:19:44.

Afghanistan redundant, which is also creating bitterness. Briefly,

:19:44.:19:48.

Philip Hammond takes over, widely regarded as a safe pair of hands, a

:19:48.:19:52.

safe bet. What are the biggest challenges he faces given that

:19:52.:19:56.

those difficult decisions have been taken? The key operational

:19:56.:19:59.

challenge is obviously managing the exit from Afghanistan, but the

:19:59.:20:03.

broader key challenge is the programme once again, already so

:20:03.:20:06.

soon after that defence review there are many people who say, no,

:20:06.:20:10.

the same old problems are going on, the thing is overset with too many

:20:10.:20:13.

projects, too many overspends. There will have to be further

:20:13.:20:17.

substantial cuts in the forces and Mr Hammond will need to get his

:20:17.:20:22.

head round that issue. Thank you very much. Also with us, the former

:20:22.:20:26.

head of the army Sir Mike Jackson. Leaving aside the details of what

:20:26.:20:29.

went on, when you have the head of the MoD distracted by something as

:20:29.:20:32.

he has been every day this week, how difficult is it for the

:20:32.:20:37.

organisation to know exactly where it's heading? It's obviously a

:20:37.:20:40.

distraction. The good thing perhaps is that it didn't last very long,

:20:40.:20:44.

although it may seem long. It's good that it's over? It's good that

:20:44.:20:49.

it's over. One way or the other. But we now know.

:20:49.:20:56.

But echoing what's just been said, it's a very complex canvas at the

:20:56.:21:02.

moment. We have a war still to be won in Afghanistan, albeit with an

:21:02.:21:05.

end date, we shall see. We have an operation to conclude in Libya, to

:21:05.:21:10.

say nothing of the unexpected, we can leave that. There's a very

:21:10.:21:17.

complex programme of restructuring, reforming the MoD itself, this is

:21:17.:21:22.

quite a challenge. I hope, I hope you're wrong when you say that

:21:22.:21:30.

we're still that much out of kilter as between programme and budget.

:21:30.:21:33.

Philip Hammond is a quick studyer, he spent a lot of time thinking

:21:33.:21:36.

about the Treasury matters, he went to transport and now he's at the

:21:36.:21:40.

MoD. How difficult is it for somebody, an outsider to get their

:21:41.:21:44.

head round the complexities of everything from procurement to

:21:44.:21:49.

looking after men and women's lives. I think it takes really quite a

:21:49.:21:56.

long time. There's a sense that up to a year is required before you

:21:56.:22:03.

really understand how the machine works, what motivates people. The

:22:03.:22:07.

whole acquisition process which has been the Achilles heel, if you like,

:22:07.:22:13.

of defence for so long, which, to give Dr Fox credit, he was getting

:22:13.:22:17.

a grip on, amongst other things. But we are where we are. What I

:22:17.:22:21.

think the Armed Forces look for is now continuity. They would hope the

:22:21.:22:24.

big decisions have been taken and it's now a question of making sure

:22:24.:22:28.

they get implemented. It was trgt the way you said that, that it

:22:28.:22:31.

could -- interesting that you said that, that it could take up to a

:22:31.:22:37.

year, even for a bright person to take charge of this. If we had six

:22:37.:22:40.

people in six years, that suspects no-one has quite got a grip on it

:22:40.:22:45.

for many years? I think it's a very poor reflection somehow on, I don't

:22:46.:22:49.

know, maybe the political importance given to defence. This

:22:49.:22:54.

is not a party political point because most of that churn was in

:22:54.:22:58.

the last government. That's where we have been, about one a year on

:22:58.:23:04.

average. The Armed Forces themselves could be forgiven for

:23:04.:23:09.

thinking that they don't matter that much. I'm sure that's not the

:23:09.:23:13.

case but it can give that impression, this churn. How, then,

:23:13.:23:17.

important is it for Philip Hammond not only to raise himself to the

:23:17.:23:22.

challenges we've been talking about but stays for quite sometime?

:23:22.:23:26.

Leaving personality, names apart, whoever it was, I very much hope we

:23:26.:23:29.

now have a Defence Secretary who will be in post until the next

:23:29.:23:34.

election. To give that continuity. Do you think that Liam Fox should

:23:34.:23:38.

have gone because he was a distraction? He chose to go. I

:23:38.:23:44.

don't think it's for me to comment as a retired soldier on the

:23:44.:23:48.

politics of it. I don't know what was in his mind or whatever. He's

:23:48.:23:52.

chosen to go and that's that, we are where we are. Does any of this

:23:52.:23:55.

have an impact on the soldiers on ground which is obviously your

:23:55.:24:01.

particular concern? Yes, I think to a private soldier in Afghanistan

:24:01.:24:05.

the name and the personality of the Secretary of State may just be part,

:24:05.:24:09.

just on his radar screen but I don't think it's going to be much

:24:09.:24:16.

of his thinking day. What he looks for is good direction from the top

:24:16.:24:20.

downwards and a constandcy of direction. I go back to my

:24:20.:24:23.

continuity point. Thank you very much, General Sir Mike Jackson.

:24:23.:24:28.

It's one of the cliches of politics that all political parties are

:24:28.:24:32.

coalitions but it's true that Liam Fox who once harboured ambitions to

:24:32.:24:39.

be Tory leader was once seen to be the emblematic figure of the right.

:24:39.:24:42.

Today we've been hearing the right has never been weaker in the Tory

:24:42.:24:46.

Cabinet than it is now. Shaun Ley looks back at Liam Fox's career and

:24:46.:24:55.

what he represented. Liam Fox is that increasingly rare

:24:55.:24:59.

beast at the top of the Conservative Party, no Cameron-

:24:59.:25:04.

style social liberal, he signalled that he's an unreconstructed

:25:04.:25:07.

Thatcherite by making the lady herself star-turn at his 50th

:25:07.:25:11.

birthday party. From the start of his Parliamentary career in 1992,

:25:11.:25:15.

he was prepared to defy the leadership, challenging John

:25:15.:25:18.

Major's delicate party balancing act over Europe by publicly

:25:18.:25:22.

pledging his opposition to scrapping the pound. In any cunning

:25:22.:25:27.

fight over the EU he could yet become a rallying point for

:25:27.:25:32.

hardline sceptics. The EU is locked in the past. We need an agenda for

:25:32.:25:39.

the 21st century. We need to break away from the whole outdated

:25:40.:25:49.
:25:50.:25:50.

concept of ever closer union much He was ambitious, in opposition he

:25:50.:25:54.

flourished, his convivial style making him an ideal party chairman

:25:54.:25:59.

to rally demoralised party troops. For Liam Fox this could never be

:25:59.:26:03.

the nasty party and its past was nothing to be ashamed of. There is

:26:03.:26:07.

no such thing as government money, there is only tax-payers' money,

:26:07.:26:14.

remember that one. You cannot go on squeezing wealth

:26:14.:26:18.

creators to finance an ever hungrier government machine. David

:26:18.:26:24.

Cameron put him in charge of health, but Dr Fox enthused about an

:26:24.:26:30.

insurance-based NHS, hardly helpful to the new leader's attempts to

:26:30.:26:34.

decontaminate the Tory brand. Defence fitted his traditional Tory

:26:34.:26:37.

instincts but in taking on the military top brass he impressed

:26:37.:26:41.

Number 10 with his appetite for reform. Less welcome was an

:26:41.:26:45.

interview calling Afghanistan a broken 13th century country and

:26:45.:26:49.

leaks showing him valiantly fighting the Treasury over defence

:26:49.:26:54.

cuts. Who leaked and why was never established.

:26:54.:26:59.

Liked but never entirely trusted, a reputation Liam Fox takes with him

:26:59.:27:02.

to the backbenches, one way may yet give David Cameron cause to be

:27:02.:27:05.

nervous. Shaun Ley with that report. Joining

:27:05.:27:09.

me to discuss the Fox resignation and what means, Fraser Nelson the

:27:09.:27:12.

editor of the Spectator and Allegra Stratton, political correspondent

:27:12.:27:17.

with the Guardian. Fraser, you know Liam Fox, you've heard the various

:27:17.:27:20.

arguments put about today, do you think this was a good man hounded

:27:20.:27:26.

out by the press or do you think it was someone who made fundamental

:27:26.:27:30.

misjudgments? I think it was a good man who made fundamental

:27:30.:27:34.

misjudgments. Throughout all of this nobody is saying he was a bad

:27:34.:27:37.

Defence Secretary, politicians never resign because they did the

:27:37.:27:40.

job wrong it's always something else. I think he was right to think

:27:40.:27:44.

this couldn't go on. You just feel in your bones as a politician that

:27:44.:27:48.

this story is not going to go away. I suspect with him he probably

:27:48.:27:52.

could have hung on, David Cameron probably would have backed him but

:27:52.:27:55.

he decided that the critical mass of bad news stories was such that

:27:56.:28:02.

it was time to walk the plank. Allegra, he was pretty naive,

:28:02.:28:07.

wasn't he? Indeed, he was. Also, we've been playing this game in the

:28:07.:28:11.

office of trying to imagine that he was the relationship with Werritty

:28:11.:28:15.

if she had been a woman and would we have necessarily hung back from

:28:15.:28:18.

that and not interrogated that relationship and not said, hold on

:28:18.:28:21.

a second this is completely normal. There was naivety, he does have

:28:21.:28:27.

this kind of boyish charm, though. That is a part of his thing, that

:28:27.:28:31.

he's kinda, swbsb from his constituency earlier was talking

:28:31.:28:34.

about him having Blair-like qualities. Is that a compliment or

:28:34.:28:37.

not? From him he said it was a compliment, a kind of sparkle in

:28:37.:28:41.

his eyes? He loves Conservatives. When he was party chairman he would

:28:41.:28:46.

talk to the activists in their 50s and 60s and wee love talking to

:28:46.:28:48.

them and it was reciprocated. That's why the party liked him.

:28:49.:28:53.

They could tell that he was a Conservative to his heart. Was part

:28:53.:28:57.

of it, though, talking with Peter Bone there, there was innuendos

:28:57.:29:02.

about him and smears which nobody quite put their finger on but it

:29:02.:29:06.

contributed to the '80s fear around him? He's always had this

:29:06.:29:10.

atmosphere around him. He is age blind as a politician, friends in

:29:10.:29:15.

their 70s, and 20s, it doesn't matter to him. That's odd for a

:29:15.:29:17.

politician. The same thing about social status. Normally when a

:29:17.:29:21.

politician has a bestman it's a political appointment, somebody

:29:21.:29:26.

who's up there in stature, he doesn't care for any of that. He's

:29:26.:29:31.

saying, look here's my best mate, sure he's 16 years younger, but I

:29:31.:29:35.

don't care. Odd for a politician but normal for a person. We're not

:29:35.:29:38.

dealing with something with subjectivity within it completely

:29:38.:29:42.

what, we've had in the last 24 hours, the critical thing and why

:29:42.:29:46.

we believe Gus O'Donnell was going to be quite critical. I saw people

:29:46.:29:49.

from Downing Street on Thursday night, last night, when those first

:29:49.:29:53.

editions were dropping, The Times and frbg T in particular which were

:29:53.:29:58.

beginning to draw the link between some of this money and influence in

:29:58.:30:02.

defence contracts -- FT -- at that toeupbt, you have the the

:30:02.:30:05.

Ministerial Code of Conduct, the wrong-doing and perception of

:30:05.:30:07.

wrong-doing. It was beginning to look like you have both those

:30:07.:30:10.

things. Where does this leave the party, there are those on the right

:30:10.:30:13.

saying they're being edged out and they're much more important in the

:30:13.:30:17.

country, the Conservative Party in the country than they are in the

:30:17.:30:21.

Cabinet? Certainly the Conservative Party will see in Liam Fox an

:30:21.:30:24.

unashamed Conservative champion. But I don't think anybody can claim

:30:24.:30:27.

that David Cameron was using this to get rid of a nasty right-winger.

:30:27.:30:32.

But even so, they might say, David Davis is in the backbenches, John

:30:32.:30:35.

Redwood is in the backbenches, talented people but none inside

:30:35.:30:39.

Number 10? Yes, I have a feeling they won't. It remains to be seen

:30:39.:30:45.

but it's not as if Philip Hammond is a kind of socialist in a suit. I

:30:45.:30:47.

don't think that the political balance of the Government has

:30:47.:30:50.

changed much. Bear in mind you had a speech from the Chancellor last

:30:50.:30:53.

week at party conference where George Osborne was very clear about,

:30:53.:30:57.

for instance, environmentalism, something that the right of the

:30:57.:30:59.

party were at one stage worried that the leadership didn't reflect.

:30:59.:31:02.

Now they are reflecting. We're seeing the dynamic of the Coalition

:31:02.:31:06.

and we will see in the years to come it will increasingly, the

:31:06.:31:11.

Tories will increasingly creep right purely as a sort of kind of

:31:11.:31:15.

uncoupling at the head of the next election. Do you think then, the

:31:15.:31:21.

implication was that, you're saying, Cameron handled it well. What the

:31:21.:31:23.

about the re-shuffle, two women have been promoted with this?

:31:24.:31:26.

That's right. David Cameron is in big trouble with women right now

:31:26.:31:30.

and needs to make up and promote them. I don't think he promoted

:31:30.:31:35.

Justine Greening for tokenistic reasons, she's an incredibly sharp

:31:35.:31:38.

MP. I think the appointment of Philip Hammond in defence is

:31:38.:31:43.

interesting. He isn't a guy who wakes up in the morning and puts on

:31:43.:31:47.

Union Jack cuff links like Liam Fox did. He's a kind of Alastair

:31:47.:31:51.

Darling figure, an accountant, that's his tkhaoepber, like a human

:31:51.:31:58.

fire extinct wisher, sent there to calm this department -- demeanour.

:31:58.:32:01.

Liam Fox did the hard stuff. He took the knocks, now the plan needs

:32:01.:32:04.

to be implemented. Can I just make one observation about this re-

:32:04.:32:08.

shuffle, not about women, which is it's qaoeult a George Osborne re-

:32:08.:32:12.

shuffle, Philip Hammond was close to him. Justine, obviously, she's

:32:12.:32:17.

the fifth member in the Treasury and now she's suddenly gone up to

:32:17.:32:22.

being top of the Department for Transport, quite a meteoric rise,

:32:22.:32:27.

she's good but it's traoebgs Lib Dem quick and now PPS to Osbourne

:32:27.:32:31.

and he's somebody who has talked about Europe having to break up.

:32:31.:32:36.

There are interesting sub stories. Do either of you think the story is

:32:36.:32:39.

over? I very much doubt the Sunday papers won't have anything to say

:32:39.:32:43.

about this. There are still unanswered questions about who was

:32:43.:32:46.

funding Adam Werritty and why. I think when the report comes out on

:32:46.:32:50.

Monday, I think Liam Fox will personally be in the clear. Indeed,

:32:50.:32:53.

it's not over for Fox but it's probably over in terms of the

:32:53.:32:56.

implications at the top of government. Thank you very much.

:32:56.:33:00.

David grossman is here with a look at some of tomorrow's front pages

:33:00.:33:02.

much You won't be surprised to hear they

:33:02.:33:05.

all lead on the resignation of the Defence Secretary. The front page

:33:05.:33:11.

of the Guardian "No more denials, fox quits." Co-written by one

:33:11.:33:15.

Allegra Stratton whose sources have told her Werritty's evidence had

:33:15.:33:17.

not impressed O'Donnell and the Cabinet secretary was concluded

:33:17.:33:22.

that Fox had repeatedly broken the Ministerial Code. Rattling thrao.

:33:22.:33:28.

Secret cash trail that meant Fox had to go. This was the crucial

:33:28.:33:31.

development today, this donor saying Fox was solicting the

:33:31.:33:34.

donations for Werritty. Going on the next paper we have

:33:34.:33:41.

there, the FT "Werritty revelations claim Fox." That's those same

:33:41.:33:45.

revelations and defenceless Liam Fox in the Independent.

:33:45.:33:51.

The Times again "Hunted Fox." Final lit the Mirror, "Another fine

:33:51.:33:57.

mess." Where they link Liam Fox and Oliver Letwin with his bins.

:33:57.:34:00.

Thank you all very much. Now, that's all for Newsnight

:34:00.:34:07.

tonight. Martha is up next with the review looking ahead to next week's

:34:07.:34:10.

Man Booker Prize. Tomorrow Wales play France, the red dragon will be

:34:10.:34:13.

flying above Downing Street and as they're the last home nation in the

:34:13.:34:18.

All of the latest on Liam Fox's resignation, his time as defence secretary and the challenges which will face his successor. With Gavin Esler.


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