Saturday, October 15, 2011

UK: £60m deal then cash for Fox's man

Dr Fox saw Mr Werritty 40 times in 16 months, including 18 times on foreign trips, 
suggesting that Mr Werritty exerted considerable influence on his old friend

A tycoon bought a British firm with extensive defence contracts months before shovelling thousands of pounds into a company run by Liam Fox’s best man. Private equity boss Jon Moulton paid £60million for Gardner UK, which makes components for aircraft including RAF fighter jets and troop transporters, in February 2010. Eight months later he gave a sum of up to £35,000 to Pargav, a company owned by the Defence Secretary’s self-styled adviser Adam Werritty.

His donation happened to coincide with the Tory government conducting the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) setting out the future shape of the Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defence was forced to find £4.7billion of cuts by 2015 and eliminate a £38billion overspend on equipment.

But the RAF aircraft which used Gardner components – including Typhoon fast jets, C130 Hercules transporter planes and Lynx helicopters – escaped unscathed from the cull. The company’s annual report has also boasted of expecting ‘significant new contracts’ and predicted ‘substantial growth’.

Mr Moulton, who donated funds to Dr Fox before the election in May last year, last night issued a statement insisting he had ‘neither sought or received a benefit of any form’. But he revealed that Dr Fox had personally asked him to fund Pargav after he became Defence Secretary.

Kevan Jones, the shadow armed forces minister, said: ‘Once again we have discovered puzzling connections between Dr Fox, his unofficial adviser, financial donors and the defence industry. It is another set of circumstances which call into question Dr Fox’s conduct and judgment.’

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