North Somerset MP Liam Fox is fighting for his career after he finally apologised yesterday for “blurring the distinctions between professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties”.
Dr Fox, the Conservative defence secretary, admitted on Sunday that it had been “wrong” for him to meet Harvey Boulter, a private equity boss and commercial partner of the Ministry of Defence, in Dubai’s five-star Shangri-la hotel without any officials present.
“I accept that it was a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend,” he said. “I am sorry for this.”
A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister would do all he could he save Dr Fox, who stood against David Cameron for the Tory party leadership in 2005.
However, more pressure was heaped upon the beleaguered MP last night, when The Guardian revealed Mr Boulter was paying £10,000 a month to lobbyists for help that included brokering a meeting with Dr Fox through Adam Werritty, who claimed to be an “adviser to the Rt Hon Dr Fox MP”.
Meanwhile, a Manchester-based blogger whose investigation into a charity set up by Dr Fox led to an investigation by the Charity Commission has said the closure of the charity at the end of last month “may be a smokescreen that hides far more serious wrongdoing than acknowledged”.
As reported by Bristol24-7 last week, Dr Fox founded The Atlantic Bridge in 1997, but stood down as a trustee once he became defence secretary in May 2010.
The charity’s aim was to further public education and research on relations between Europe and North America, but was wound up on September 23 and removed from the register of charities on September 30.
A Charity Commission report into Atlantic Bridge, published in July 2010, said the charity’s “current activities must cease immediately” because they did not advance its charitable purposes.
Now Stephen Newton has said that the Charity Commission has failed to investigate the most damning claims against the charity and “committed itself to aggressively defending the reputations of its trustees, Adam Werritty and Liam Fox”.
“The true purpose of the Atlantic Bridge was to facilitate networking between senior members of the Conservative Party and their American allies, while taking advantage of the lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by charities,” said Mr Newton.
“The removal of the Atlantic Bridge from the register of charities should be seen as a considerable embarrassment to the Charity Commission, which has spent two years working hard to bring this organisation into compliance with the law.”