BELEAGUERED Minister Liam Fox stood down last night as fresh claims emerged that he had tried to raise funds for his friend Adam Werritty.
The former Defence Secretary is said to have personally approached a prominent venture capitalist to ask him to help bankroll a company run by Mr Werritty.
Jon Moulton said that following last year’s General Election he was asked by Dr Fox to provide funds to the firm, called Pargav, which he was told was involved in “security policy analysis and research”. According to reports Pargav Ltd was set up as a not-for-profit company by Mr Werritty and was used to fund his jet-set lifestyle following Dr Fox on international engagements around the world.
In a statement issued following Dr Fox’s resignation, Mr Moulton said: “Before the last election I had made several, on the record, donations to support Dr Fox following a request to do so from a Conservative Party fundraiser.
“After the election I was asked by Dr Fox to provide funds to a non-profit group called Pargav involved in security policy analysis and research and after obtaining written assurances as to its activities I provided personal funding to Pargav.
“Neither I nor any of my associates have sought or received a benefit of any form from Pargav. I have not received an account of Pargav’s activities, nor have I been involved at all with Pargav, since funding. I will not be doing this again.”
It was not clear whether the prospect that the claims that Dr Fox sought funds for Mr Werritty’s company were about to surface played any part in his decision to stand down.
Earlier yesterday Mr Werritty was interviewed by a senior Cabinet Office official away from Whitehall amid fresh allegations over how he was able to fund his jet-set lifestyle. Officials were expected to work through the weekend to complete the investigation headed by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell.
David Cameron had said he would wait until he had received Sir Gus’s report before deciding whether Dr Fox should lose his job.
Dr Fox resigned last night despite previously saying two days ago that he would: “carry on doing the job that I am meant to do, the job that I am paid for”.
Claims emerged yesterday that Mr Werritty’s trips staying in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels were paid for by Pargav Ltd. According to reports, £147,000 was paid into the firm’s bank account. Among the donors were said to be a corporate intelligence company with a close interest in Sri Lanka and a property investor who lobbies for Israel.
A spokesman for one of the reported donors to Pargav – the investment company Tamares Real Estate – confirmed that it had paid £3,000.
Tamares is owned by Poju Zabludowicz, the chairman of BICOM, an organisation which lobbies the British Government on behalf of Israel. The spokesman said Mr Zabludowicz had made payments to support Pargav’s work to promote peace in the Middle East.
Dr Fox first met Mr Werritty while he was a teenage student at Edinburgh University in 1998.
During Dr Fox’s time in the coalition Government Mr Werritty appears to have enjoyed an unusual level of access to the Ministry of Defence.
The 34-year-old has visited 14 times in little over a year, despite not having security clearance.
He has also handed out business cards with a portcullis logo describing himself as an adviser to Dr Fox even though he has no official role with either the Government or the Conservative Party.
Mr Werritty has previously worked as an intern for Dr Fox and was his best man in 2005.
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