LONDON // The resignation of Britain's defence secretary seems unlikely to put an end to questions over why he travelled the world accompanied by his closest friend - and who paid for the trips.
Liam Fox resigned on Friday evening after a week of mounting media revelations over the activities of Adam Werritty, who once lived in the defence secretary's home and who was best man at his wedding.
Though Mr Werritty, 34, had no official position either with the government or Conservative Party, he had accompanied Mr Fox on 18 overseas visits since the coalition government came to power in May last year, and had visited him at the Ministry of Defence on at least 20 other occasions.
Among the trips he made as a self-proclaimed "adviser" to Mr Fox were two to Abu Dhabi and one to a Dubai hotel in July when, contrary to established practice, the defence secretary met the head of a defence contractor without any civil servants being present, though Mr Werritty was.
A report in The Times on Friday revealed that a property investor who lobbies on behalf of Israel, a corporate intelligence firm with ties to Sri Lanka and a venture capitalist who owns a firm making components for military aircraft were among contributors to a not-for-profit company that paid for Mr Werritty to travel the world with Mr Fox.
That report was felt to be the tipping point that convinced Mr Fox, 50, he must step down. In his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Fox accepted that he had allowed the distinction between his personal interests and government activities to become "blurred".
Mr Cameron, who paid tribute to the "super job" that Mr Fox had done, promptly appointed Transport Secretary Philip Hammond - like Mr Fox, a right-winger - to take over at defence.
But the prime minister's hopes that this might draw a line under the affair are unlikely to be met.
Sir Gus O'Donnell, Britain's top civil servant, is overseeing an inquiry into whether Mr Fox's activities breached the ministerial code of conduct and his report will still be published, expected on Tuesday.
A source close to the government told The National yesterday that the report would be highly critical of Mr Fox. "If Liam hadn't gone on Friday, then he would certainly have had to go after GOD's [Sir Gus's] report was published. His position was simply untenable," the source said.
The opposition Labour Party is now calling for a broader investigation into the rules governing ministers' conduct.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, told the BBC that there were still many unanswered questions. "What is the flow of money?" asked Mr Murphy. "Liam treated Adam Werritty as a good friend. Adam Werritty seems to have treated Liam Fox like some sort of franchise to make money from.
"So we need to know as part of the inquiry, just where's the money? Why has Liam resigned? Let's continue to carry out the investigation and, if need be, broaden the investigation further."
Following Mr Fox's resignation, one of the principal backers of Pargav, the "security analysis and research firm" that paid for Mr Werritty's globetrotting, claimed that the defence secretary had personally approached him about making a donation.
The venture capitalist Jon Moulton said: "After the election I was asked by Mr 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."
In February 2010, Mr Moulton reportedly paid £60 million (Dh348m) for Gardner UK, which makes components for aircraft including RAF fighter jets and troop transporters. He is understood to have donated £35,000 to Pargav in October of that year.
The departure of Mr Fox will be most keenly felt by right-wingers in the Conservative Party who saw him as an effective foil to the demands of their more left-leaning, Liberal Democrat partners in the coalition government.