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U.K. Defense Secretary Steps Down

<p>This file picture taken on October 18, 2010, shows British Defense Secretary, Liam Fox, leaving after attending a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street.</p>
Carl Court
AFP/Getty Images

This file picture taken on October 18, 2010, shows British Defense Secretary, Liam Fox, leaving after attending a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street.

Liam Fox, Britain's defense minister, has resigned after questions arose about the relationship and influence of his adviser and friend Adam Werritty.

"As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred," Fox said in his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. "The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this."

The story goes much deeper than Werritty. The Guardian, which broke the story in June, has put together an interactive into all the connections Werritty and Fox had. But in it's daily story, the paper gets to the heart of the matter:

Downing Street insisted Fox had not been pushed into resigning over the activities of his friend Adam Werritty but it was a decision taken by him with "dignity". However, senior figures inside Downing Street were worried that the former defence secretary's position had become untenable when fresh stories emerged in the first editions of newspapers on Thursday night. Cameron's team were alarmed that journalists had began to establish where the funding for Adam Werritty's lobbying activities had come from.

The Times unearthed a corporate intelligence company with a close interest in Sri Lanka, a property investor who lobbies for Israel and a venture capitalist keen on strong ties to fund the £147,000 bill he notched up on travel and hotels, sometimes including first class travel and five-star hotels.

Before the funding questions arose, the story started with journalists asking questions about why Werritty, who holds no official government position, would travel with Fox on official business. Werritty served as best man at Fox's wedding in 2005.

The AP reports that a government investigation was underway and that Cameron was waiting on the results of that to make a decision on Fox. The AP adds that Cameron is expected to appoint Transport Secretary Philip Hammond as defense secretary.

In a letter responding to Fox's resignation, Cameron praised him:

On Libya, you played a key role in the campaign to stop people being massacred by the Gaddafi regime and instead win their freedom.

You can be proud of the difference you have made in your time in office, and in helping our party to return to government.

If you want to dig deeper, The Guardian is running a live blog on the situation. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, they have provided an archive of stories that give you the full narrative.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.