British defence minister ignored warnings on friend: media

18th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's former defence minister Liam Fox ignored repeated warnings from civil servants over his ties with a friend and self-styled adviser, an official report is expected to find.

Fox, 50, who played a key role in Britain's military campaigns in Libya and Afghanistan, resigned on Friday after it emerged that Adam Werritty accompanied him on a string of trips funded by financial backers linked to Israel.

The Daily Telegraph said that a report by top civil servant Gus O'Donnell, which is due to be released later Tuesday, will find that Fox was warned several times about the "risks of his association" with Werritty, 34.

But Fox thought the risks were acceptable and carried on, the newspaper said.

O'Donnell's report landed on Prime Minister David Cameron's desk late Monday and several media outlets have said that the inquiry has found that Fox breached Britain's ministerial code but did not gain financially.

It is also expected to conclude that Fox did the right thing by resigning.

Conservative party lawmaker Fox stepped down after a week of pressure, saying that he had "mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred".

His resignation came amid reports that financial backers linked to Israel and a private security firm had funded Werritty's first-class travel and hotel stays during his time with the minister.

Fox admitted that Werritty had accompanied him on 18 foreign trips, and visited him 22 times at the Ministry of Defence in London.

The Daily Telegraph said O'Donnell's report would also conclude that business cards on which Werritty falsely claimed to be adviser to Fox gave the impression that Werritty spoke on behalf of the British government.

The Times newspaper reported meanwhile that Israeli officials shared sensitive intelligence with Werritty because they believed he was a government adviser.

There was no immediate reaction from Israeli authorities.

© 2011 AFP

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