Liam Fox 'would like front bench return'

 

Former defence secretary Liam Fox said today that he hopes to return to government office.

Dr Fox, who was forced to resign over his links with his best man and self-styled adviser Adam Werritty, admitted he had broken ministerial rules.

But in an interview with BBC Radio Bristol, he said he would still like to get back to frontline politics.

"I would certainly like to get back to the front bench - how quickly is another matter," he said.

"I think for the moment I will enjoy having a little bit of extra time. There are one or two projects that I want to get involved in on the charitable side and to devote some time to that."

Dr Fox acknowledged that his relationship with Mr Werritty - whom he met 40 times in the Ministry of Defence and on trips abroad - had contravened Whitehall rules.

"My mistake there was to effectively allow someone to function as an independent adviser and that is not allowed under the Ministerial Code," he said.

"I should have kept a better separation there - with hindsight, it seems easy."

However he strongly defended his practice of arranging for time during official visits overseas to meet up with Mr Werritty and other friends.

"These are visits where we would regularly arrange with downtime for friends to be around and to catch up. It is not quite as dramatic as it sounds," he said.

"I would finish ministerial work and then we would very regularly, in places like Dubai, meet up with friends in the region. So there wasn't any lack of separation between ministerial and private time.

"Some of this coverage, you would think ministers weren't allowed to have private time which is, of course, absurd."

Dr Fox also again complained about the media "maelstrom" which blew up over the disclosure of his links with Mr Werritty.

"Relatives are phoning up because they are upset, even to the point of one of my nephews who is 14 being doorstepped. That was unacceptable," he said.

Dr Fox acknowledged that it had been a "mistake" to meet a defence supplier in Dubai without an MoD official present - even though someone from his private office had offered to attend.

"We were sitting in a coffee lounge in a hotel - it was hardly a high-security meeting," he said.

"But nonetheless, given this was a potential defence supplier - not as it turns out an actual defence supplier - it still should have had somebody there. It's very easy to be careless but you pay a price for it."

He brushed off renewed speculation about his private life in the wake of the disclosure of his links with Mr Werritty.

"I can think of no rumour or innuendo that could possibly exist that hasn't been there in recent times. I will stick to the substantive issues. Gossip is for gossipers," he said.

He hinted that he would use his return to the backbenches to speak out in a way that was not possible for a Government minister.

"It will be interesting being on the backbenches. I'll certainly be freer to say what I want," he said.

PA

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