LONDON: British defence minister Liam Fox resigned on Friday, forced out over his close working relationship with a friend who posed as his advisor despite having no official government role.
In his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative lawmaker admitted he had allowed the distinction between his personal and government activities to be blurred through his work with Adam Werritty.
“I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this,” Fox wrote.
In his letter of response, published by Downing Street, Cameron said he understood why Fox was leaving but was “very sorry to see you go” and praised his achievements in 17 months as defence secretary.
“I understand your reasons for deciding to resign as defence secretary, although I am very sorry to see you go,” the prime minister wrote, adding that he hoped Fox and his wife Jesme would remain his “good friends”.
In his letter of resignation, which comes after days of allegations about his relationship with Werritty, Fox said: “I have also repeatedly said that the national interest must always come before personal interest.
“I now have to hold myself to my own standard.
“I have therefore decided, with great sadness, to resign from my post as secretary of state for defence, a position which I have been immensely proud and honoured to have held.”
Fox's departure leaves a vacancy at the top of the Ministry of Defence at a crucial time, when British forces are still deployed on a Nato mission in Libya and continue their ten-year operation in Afghanistan.
The minister also had the job of pushing through eight percent cuts to the armed forces budget as part of a government-wide austerity drive, which saw him confront military chiefs over what he described as years of mismanagement.
“I am particularly proud to have overseen the long overdue reforms to the Ministry of Defence and to our armed forces,” Fox said.
“I am proud also to have played a part in helping to liberate the people of Libya, and I regret that I will not see through to its conclusion Britain's role in Afghanistan, where so much progress has been made.”
Fox is the second member of Cameron's coalition government to resign since it took office in May 2010, the first, Liberal Democrat minister David Laws, was forced to stand down within weeks of the election over an expenses scandal.
Cameron said Fox had done a “superb job”, saying: “You can be proud of the difference you have made in your time in office, and in helping our party to return to government.”