Liam Fox vows to carry on amid growing gossip and rumours about his sexuality
A DEFIANT Liam Fox today declared he intended to carry on as British Defence Secretary as claims continued to swirl about his links with his close friend, the lobbyist Adam Werritty.
In the latest twist to the controversy, Dr Fox was last night forced to deny he was responsible for wrongly briefing journalists that he was alone in his London flat when it was burgled during last year's general election campaign.
The Sun disclosed that a "younger man" had been staying the night at the apartment when thieves broke in and took a laptop computer, a mobile phone and the keys to his Skoda car.
In a statement, Dr Fox insisted he had given the full facts to police at the time and said he was "appalled at being portrayed as having something to hide". He added, "for the sake of clarity", that the guest was not Mr Werritty.
This morning, as left on the Eurostar for talks in Paris with his French counterpart, Dr Fox indicated that he had no intention of standing down in the face of the continuing controversy.
"I shall carry on doing the job that I am meant to do, the job that I am paid for," he told reporters.
Meanwhile a Government minister acknowledged that gossip about Dr Fox's private life was circulating at Westminster.
Employment minister Chris Grayling dismissed the stories as "gossip, innuendo and tittle-tattle" and insisted that he had heard nothing which affected Dr Fox's ability to do his job as a minister.
Asked about rumours the Defence Secretary is gay - described by Dr Fox as "smears" in a 2005 interview - Mr Grayling told the BBC Radio 4 today programme: "If you look around the Westminster village you will find all kinds of wild gossip about all kinds of individuals in all parties. That doesn't mean they are not good at their jobs.
"I've known Liam for many years, I've known Liam and his wife, they've always struck me as being a very happily married couple. The reality is that the gossip is certainly circulating.
"I thought we had got past the point in politics though where we needed to worry about people's private lives. The question is somebody doing an important and capable job.
"The fact is Liam is a very good Defence Secretary doing a very good job. I've not seen anything emerge in any of this that would give me rise to believe that Liam has done anything substantially wrong or would call his position into question."