Tuesday 28 March 2017

Defence secretary's aides turn on Werritty

Oliver Wright and Kim Sengupta in London

Liam Fox's aides turned on Adam Werritty last night, describing him as a "Walter Mitty figure" who took advantage of the minister's friendship.

In a clear attempt to distance the defence secretary from Mr Werritty to save his political career, 'friends' of Mr Fox said it was "clear that Mr Werritty was masquerading as something he was not". Mr Fox himself said last night that he was the victim of a "witch hunt".

But at the same time military commanders and senior civil servants warned that it was becoming untenable for Mr Fox to continue in his job.

They also expressed grave concern that the defence secretary appeared to have used Mr Werritty as an adviser in formulating national policy.

The aggressive briefings by Mr Fox's advisers are particularly damaging as they echo the briefings given by Downing Street under Tony Blair about David Kelly after he committed suicide. Both made the same reference to "Walter Mitty" -- a fictional character who lived in a fantasy world.

One senior Whitehall official said: "He is prepared to take advice from a Walter Mitty figure rather than us. There are 40,000 jobs going in defence and we have this circus going on."

Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, is due to report on his findings into the pair's relationship "within days" -- and sources said his inquiry would be wide-ranging. Downing Street has also decided the report must be published in some form, making it more difficult to save Mr Fox should Mr Gus imply that he has breached the ministerial code.(© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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