British defence chief fights for job amid friend row

Dilshan Wirasekara, Chief Executive Officer of First Capital Treasuries PLC

LONDON, October 10, 2011 (AFP) – British Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s political career hung in the balance on Monday as he prepared to face a parliamentary grilling over his friend’s reported involvement in government affairs. Fox on Sunday responded to accusations that he had an inappropriate working relationship with friend Adam Werritty, saying he was “very sorry” for “giving the impression of wrongdoing”.

In a statement he also accepted it was “a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend”.

But the minister said he would answer “all questions” about Werritty’s involvement in government business, including Afghanistan and Libya, during the scheduled House of Commons defence questions on Monday.

Fox insisted that “at no stage” did he provide classified information or briefings to Werritty — who has no official government role — or assist the businessman in his commercial endeavours. The under-fire minister also revealed he had apologised to Prime Minister David Cameron for meeting a commercial supplier without the presence of an official, and was working to legislate against such meetings in the future.

Cameron on Saturday sa