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UK Defense Secretary Resigns Over Best Man

Embattled UK secretary of state for defense Liam Fox resigned from the government on Friday after a week of continuing allegations relating to his close friend and self-styled adviser Adam Werrity.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (front 2nd Left) calls an end to a group picture with his new cabinet ministers in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street in London, England.
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (front 2nd Left) calls an end to a group picture with his new cabinet ministers in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street in London, England.

Fox who has been a prominent member of the government since the general election last year was forced to resign when it emerged that Werrity had accompanied him on at least 18 foreign visits and arranged meetings with defense contractors.

In his letter to prime minister David Cameron, Fox said he had mistakenly allowed the distinction between his “personal interest and government activities to become blurred”.

Fox became the focus of intense scrutiny last weekend after it emerged that he had been accompanied by Werrity on various missions including to Afghanistan. The allegations led to an investigation by the UK’s top civil servant, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, whose interim report concluded that Fox had broke the ministerial code.

Werrity had presented himself to foreign dignitaries and defense contractors as an adviser to Fox although he was never given a job as a special adviser to the Defense Secretary and received no pay from government. However, investigations revealed Werrity’s defense consultancy Pargav received £147,000 ($232,000) from a corporate intelligence company with a close interest in Sri Lanka and a property investor who lobbies for Israel.

Government sources told CNBC.com the prime minister had yet to make a decision about Fox’s replacement. However it is possible that the resignation could prompt Cameron into an early reshuffle of his cabinet. The prime minister is known to be keen to refresh his team but had always hoped to do so in the spring rather than because his hand had been forced by events.

The resignation comes on the same day that a second cabinet minister found himself in trouble. Oliver Letwin was photographed by British national newspaper the Daily Mirror reading and then throwing away important government papers in the middle of one of London’s royal parks, fueling concerns over security risks.