Liam Fox, Adam Werritty & the Atlantic Bridge mystery
Labour MPs are gunning for Liam Fox after Charity Commission closes his neo-con outfit
LABOUR MPs are planning to go Fox hunting when the Commons returns next week after the party conference season (which was so dull this year, especially after Cameron's content-free speech, that MPs were left wondering why they bother).
The chasing pack of Labour MPs is led by Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, and some old Labour hounds, such as John Mann and Kevan Jones, who have a nose for sniffing out Tory funding stories.
They smell blood after The Guardian reported yesterday that Atlantic Bridge, a pro-Atlanticist propaganda organisation set up by Fox with Lady Thatcher as its patron, was dissolved as a charity on September 31 in the light of a critical report from the Charities Commission.
Its advisory board has included George Osborne, William Hague and Michael Gove, all members of Cameron's government, while the PM's communications chief, Gabby Bertin, has been a researcher for Fox on the project.
The advisers could not have been more right-wing or impressive. In 2007, according to the website Powerbase, they included: Lord Tebbit, Patrick Minford, Lord Astor of Hever, Clark S Judge of the White House Writers Group, Eleanor Laing MP, John Whittingdale MP, and Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute.
The objectives of Atlantic Bridge were to vestablish, and then develop rapidly, a strong, well-positioned, network of like-minded conservatives in politics, business, journalism and academe on both sides of the Atlantic; and to develop new and relevant policy ideas, building on the common thinking which underpins the natural trans-Atlantic alliance between the UK and the USA".
In short, a neo-con set-up that would consummate the marriage of ideas between Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
The focus point of the group would be "an ongoing series of bi-annual speaker dinners to be held in London and cities across the United States".
Lady Thatcher, who made a point of attending Fox's 50th birthday party a few days ago despite recent illness, was its star. In a speech to the organisation on 14 May 2003. she called on the Atlantic Bridge to become a bulwark against the Left.
"This Atlantic Bridge must connect the brightest minds, the soundest ideas, and the boldest young leaders of the future," she declared. "It should serve at once as a memorial to our heritage, as an investment in our prospects, and as a bulwark against the good - and not so good - people on the Left, who always turn out to have such very bad ideas."
Earlier this year, the Charity Commission said the activities of the Atlantic Bridge "have not furthered any of its charitable purposes in any way" and stated that its "current activities must cease immediately". Fox and Lord Astor resigned as trustees in May and its remaining trustees wound it up last week.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing, but Labour MPs are focusing on Fox's relationship with Adam Werritty, a close friend of Fox - he was his best man at his wedding - who was its sole employee.
Werritty, who once shared a flat with Fox, was a member of the executive board and went to meetings at the MoD. Although he had no formal government role, Werrity is said to have called himself Fox's official adviser, carrying a business card which stated as much.
Fox was chased by Michael Crick, the Channel 4 News political reporter, at the Tory Party conference yesterday but refused to discuss his links with Werrity or Atlantic Bridge.
Kevan Jones said: "We need to know who funded this organisation and exactly what Liam Fox and Adam Werritty's roles were. David Cameron has talked about transparency and openness but that is being undermined by Liam Fox."
Watch this space. ·
Comments are now closed on this article