UK prime minister seeks report on defense chief

AP News
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Posted: Oct 08, 2011 12:29 PM
UK prime minister seeks report on defense chief

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday asked for early details from an ethics investigation into his embattled defense secretary, but still has full confidence in him, a spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified because of government policy, said the prime minister wants to know details of the Defense Ministry probe into allegations that Liam Fox may have violated ethics policy. Cameron will ask a report to be prepared Monday, she said.

Fox is being probed for possible security breaches and for possibly breaking the ministerial code of conduct for his close friendship with Adam Werritty, a former roommate.

Werritty has visited Fox at defense headquarters on numerous occasions, despite having no official role, and has distributed business cards linking him to Fox and to the House of Commons.

British press reports also suggest he has set up overseas business meetings attended by Fox.

Fox has asked for an internal Ministry of Defense inquiry to determine if he has acted improperly.

The inquiry is being headed by Ursula Brennan, the Defense Ministry's permanent secretary, who has indicated it will take about two weeks. She said the investigation would scrutinize Werritty's "access to departmental premises and information" and determine if security had been compromised in addition to determining if officials acted properly.

Cameron's spokeswoman said earlier in the day that Fox enjoyed the prime minister's full confidence.

Fox, who was in Libya on Saturday meeting with the new government there, has said the inquiry will handle the matter, but Labour Party opponents are demanding he take questions in Parliament.

Shadow Defense Secretary Jim Murphy said Saturday he will try to force Fox to answer questions about Werritty's role if the defense secretary declines to do so voluntarily.

Fox had already been scheduled to answer questions in Parliament Monday regarding other defense matters.