Who paid for the Defence Minister’s special friend?

Adam Werritty (left) with Dr Liam Fox (centre) at a meeting in Dubai in 2007

Adam Werritty (left) with Dr Liam Fox (centre) at a meeting in Dubai in 2007

With British forces still on the front line after ten years of an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence in London is preoccupied by a scandal which is set to force the resignation of the MoD’s boss.

Dr Liam Fox – who has been Secretary of State for Defence since the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition took power last year – is facing a host of unanswered questions about the role of his close friend Adam Werritty, who appears to have given the impression to business contacts that he is an adviser to the minister, even though he holds no official position and has not been security vetted.

The nature of the special relationship between Dr Fox and Mr Werritty is unclear, though rumours about the minister’s private life have circulated among fellow politicians and journalists for many years.

The Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox is facing pressure for his resignation.

The Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox is facing pressure for his resignation.

Mr Werritty ran a “charity” based in Dr Fox’s parliamentary office, which was closed down by the Charity Commission after an investigation into its tax status.  This “charity” – the Atlantic Bridge – was a political forum for extreme neo-conservative views, uniting Thatcherites and their Washington allies.  The Charity Commission closed down Atlantic Bridge because they found that its concentration on promoting the “Special Relationship” was political, not charitable.

The “Special Relationship” is usually taken to mean the Washington-London axis, but there has always been a third, more important and indubitably more “special” partner: Israel.

It is the Tel Aviv corner of the “Special Relationship” triangle that should now be in the spotlight as for the first time a British Defence Secretary is likely to be forced to resign by personal scandal.  Who was pulling the strings behind the “special relationship” between Dr Liam Fox and his close friend Adam Werritty?

Ambassador Matthew Gould with Union Jack yarmulke

Ambassador Matthew Gould with Union Jack yarmulke

Since Dr Fox became Defence Secretary just seventeen months ago, his friend Mr Werritty has taken no fewer than nineteen international trips where he has met up with the minister and stayed in some of the world’s most expensive hotels, despite holding no official government position.  Dr Fox has admitted that he and Mr Werritty also met at the Ministry of Defence with the UK Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who “was known socially to both of us”.  He concedes that this meeting was “inappropriate”.  Mr Gould is the first Jew to have been appointed British Ambassador to the Zionist state.

The question is now being asked: who paid Mr Werritty’s bills at hotels such as the Shangri-La, Dubai, at £350 a night?  Or his flights for the past year’s international travel to the same venues as the Defence Secretary?  Business flights to these destinations would cost an estimated total of more than £38,000.

Lorna Fitzsimons (right) at the 2009 BICOM dinner at the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, with former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk

Lorna Fitzsimons (right) at the 2009 BICOM dinner at the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, with former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk

We do now know that on one of these trips his bill was paid by the pro-Israel lobby group Bicom, headed by former Labour MP Lorna Fitzsimons.  Bicom paid for Mr Werritty to attend the Herzliya conference in Israel in 2009, where he joined a panel discussion about Iran.

Unsurprisingly Mr Werritty also met up with his special friend, Defence Secretary Liam Fox, at this Israeli conference.

Among Liam Fox’s most generous financial backers is the hedge fund tycoon and former Goldman Sachs and Salomon Brothers banker Michael Hintze, who paid for Dr Fox’s travel to Mauritania and Italy in 2007, and to and from Washington, DC, in 2008 and 2011.

Mr Hintze was also a major donor to Atlantic Bridge and Werritty has a free office at Hintze’s London headquarters.  One of the directors of Werritty’s “defence consultancy”, Security Futures, is Hintze aide Oliver Hylton.  Other directors of this mysterious company (since dissolved) are two who have since become Conservative MPs: the openly gay activist Iain Stewart (a prominent supporter of Conservative Friends of Israel), and the former lobbyist Laura Sandys, daughter of the former defence minister Duncan Sandys.  The latter’s lobbying company Laura Sandys Associates hired Miles Webber, former director of Labour Friends of Israel, to run its parliamentary team.

Gabby Bertin (centre) seen here leaving Downing Street with the Prime Minister, worked for Atlantic Bridge, the "charity" run by the Defence Minister's special friend Adam Werritty.

Gabby Bertin (centre) seen here leaving Downing Street with the Prime Minister, worked for Atlantic Bridge, the "charity" run by the Defence Minister's special friend Adam Werritty.

Also working at Atlantic Bridge was Gabby Bertin, now press secretary to the Prime Minister David Cameron.  Her position with the “charity” was funded by the New York pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Other declared financial backers of Dr Fox and his special friend are: Stanley Fink, Alan Howard, Jon Moulton and David and Simon Reuben.

Let us look a little more closely at these organisations and individuals who are generous supporters of the special friends Fox and Werritty:

Poju Zabludowicz (centre) hosted the United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner at the Hilton Hotel, London.

Poju Zabludowicz (centre) hosted the United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner at the Hilton Hotel, London.

BICOM
funded by Israeli billionaire Poju Zabludowicz, who is one of the UK’s most prominent Zionist lobbyists and a member of the Jewish Leadership Council.  A misdirected email recently revealed that BICOM regularly briefed journalists to write pro-Israeli articles, including Financial Times leader writer Jonathan Ford and Prospect editor David Goodhart.  The email leak might well cost former MP Lorna Fitzsimons her job at BICOM.

Michael Hintze (centre) with Conservative MPs Philip Dunne and Dominic Grieve (now Attorney General)

Michael Hintze (centre) with Conservative MPs Philip Dunne and Dominic Grieve (now Attorney General)

Michael Hintze
Grandparents fled the Russian Revolution and settled in China, before his parents fled that country after Mao’s victory in the late 1940s, settling in Australia where Hintze was born.  Educated at a Christian Brothers school before serving as a major in the Australian army, then entering the financial world through Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs.  Made millions from “short selling” during the banking crisis. Sponsors a professorial chair in international security studies at the University of Sydney.

Stanley Fink (Lord Fink)
Known as the “godfather” of the British hedge fund industry; Vice-President of the Jewish Leadership Council and Co-Treasurer of the Conservative Party; ennobled as Baron Fink of Northwood in 2011. Since 2008 has been in partnership with Tony Blair’s infamous right hand man Lord Levy, as chief executive of International Standard Asset Management.

Stanley Fink taking his seat in the upper house as Lord Fink of Northwood

Stanley Fink taking his seat in the upper house as Lord Fink of Northwood

Alan Howard
yet another hedge fund tycoon, co-founder of Brevan Howard, the largest hedge fund manager in Europe.  Like Michael Hintze, Mr Howard started his financial career with Salomon Brothers.  A board member of Conservative Friends of Israel, his company is based at the former London headquarters of Marks & Spencer in Baker Street.

Jon Moulton
a venture capitalist based in the tax haven of Guernsey.  Noted philanthropic supporter of the charity Jewish Care.

The mysterious Reuben brothers: financial backers of the British Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox

The mysterious Reuben brothers: financial backers of the British Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox

David and Simon Reuben
secretive property tycoons who added to their fortune as the biggest foreign investors in Russia during the heyday of the mafia oligarchs in the 1990s.  Their web of international shell companies was exposed in a fascinating article for Fortune magazine in 2000.

Whatever personal scandal lies behind the Defence Secretary’s current problems, British voters are surely entitled to ask: who pays the piper – and who calls the tune?

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