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'Liam Fox is gone, Sri Lanka’s lost a friend'

From UK media on the resignation Friday of UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox:

"Even though [Dr. Fox] has resigned, there are questions yet to be answered about his links to the Sri Lankan government. We have to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again."

- Emma Reynolds MP (Labour)

"For Britain's Defence Secretary to have repeatedly visited Sri Lanka, at the regime's expense, and in the company of Werritty, a known lobbyist, sends completely the wrong signal about the need to investigate atrocities which took place there."

Alan Keenan, International Crisis Group

See their comments to Channel 4 here.

Also from the Channel 4 report:

“Key to Dr Fox’s downfall was his apparent running of a parallel foreign policy, managed by his best man, Adam Werritty, who masqueraded as a ministerial adviser.

Nowhere has this compromised the position of the British government more than over Dr Fox’s dealings with Sri Lanka. Human rights groups, who want the Sri Lankan government held to account for alleged war crimes, believe Dr Fox provided a fig-leaf of respectability for a regime increasingly regarded as pariah.

From The Times’ editorial Saturday:

“Dr Fox argued that Mr Werritty was neither his official adviser nor his unofficial one. Given that Mr Werritty clearly provided Dr Fox with advice, fixed meetings for him, attended events with him all over the world, does not appear to have any other work to do, and handed out cards calling himself adviser to Dr Liam Fox, the denial by Dr Fox is on balance perhaps not entirely convincing.

“Yet it is the truth about Mr Werritty’s income, revealed yesterday by The Times, rather than the frequency of their meetings alone, that required the Defence Secretary to resign. Dr Fox’s friend was, it turns out, being paid by political allies of the minister …. These allies made it possible for Mr Werritty to pop up in all sorts of meetings with the Defence Secretary, often ones where Dr Fox was pursuing his own agenda, rather than the Government’s. This was an unacceptable arrangement.

“If Dr Fox knew of such a relationship between his allies and Mr Werritty, it means that the Defence Secretary was accepting a political donation and employing staff without declaring either. This allowed him to pursue his own foreign policy towards Sri Lanka, Israel and America financed by people, anonymous until yesterday, who had a political interest in those areas.”

On Dr. Fox and Sri Lanka, see our posts from 2010:

Loyal defender of Sri Lanka’s realm (Dec 2010)

Too close for British comfort (Dec 2010)

British MPs lobbied for Sri Lanka after junkets (March 2010)