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Liam Fox under fresh pressure over adviser

Defence secretary Liam Fox’s long-standing relationship with consultant Adam Werritty is coming under the spotlight

An unofficial adviser to defence secretary Liam Fox was running a health consultancy company when the senior Tory was shadow health secretary, the Guardian can reveal.

The disclosure that Adam Werritty, who has been a close friend of Fox’s for at least a decade, was company secretary of UK Health Limited while Fox was the Tory party’s lead on health policy will put more pressure on Fox to explain his relationship to the self-styled consultant.

This month the Guardian disclosed that Werritty, who was best man at Fox’s wedding in 2005, brokered a meeting in the Middle East which has led to Fox being dragged into a blackmail lawsuit.

Werritty, who purports to be one of Fox’s official advisers but is not a government employee, arranged talks between the minister and the Ministry of Defence’s private equity partner Porton Capital over a multimillion-pound legal battle between the MoD and US Post-it note maker 3M.

Hours after the meeting, which was not attended by officials and at which no notes were taken, Harvey Boulter, chief executive of Porton Capital, emailed 3M demanding that it hand over m (£18m) to settle a dispute over the sale of a potentially lifesaving treatment to the US company or risk the government questioning the award of a knighthood to 3M’s British-born chief executive Sir George Buckley.

It said: “As a result of my meeting [with Liam Fox] you ought to understand that David Cameron’s cabinet might very shortly be discussing the rather embarrassing situation of George’s knighthood … At a headline of m+ you will allow the MoD to internally save face.”

3M is now suing Porton Capital and Boulter personally for “blackmail”, raising the prospect of Fox being summoned to give evidence at a trial in the US. Boulter in turn has accused the American company of libel over the blackmail claims.

The Guardian can now disclose that Werritty, who hands out business cards that describe him as an “adviser to Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP” despite the MoD insisting that he is not on their payroll, was appointed company secretary of UK Health Limited in June 2003. At that time Fox was shadow health secretary.

Werritty has been a director of UK Health Limited, which says it is involved in “human health activities”, since October 2002. He also served as company secretary between June 2003 and November 2004. Fox served as shadow health secretary between June 1999 and November 2003. Werritty and Fox have previously shared a flat and are understood to have been on holiday together several times. Werritty is a frequent visitor to Fox’s office at the MoD.

Werritty, 33, a defence consultant, has also served as a director at a company called Security Futures until the company was dissolved in December last year.

The company secretary of Security Futures was Iain Aitken Stewart, the Tory MP for Milton Keynes and a close friend of Fox and Werritty. Also on the board of Security Futures, which did not explain its business activities to Companies House, was Oliver Hylton, an adviser to Michael Hinzte, a hedge fund billionaire, Tory party donor and close friend of Fox.

Hylton is also the manager of Hintze’s charitable foundation that has donated £51,000 to a charity set-up by Fox and run by Werritty. The Atlantic Bridge, which Fox established in 1997 and was run by Werritty as executive director and sole employee, has suspended its activities after an investigation by the Charity Commission.

Hintze, the Australian-born boss of hedge fund CQS, is the world’s 880th wealthiest person with a fortune of .1bn, according to the latest Forbes rich list. The register of members’ interests shows that Fox travelled on Hintze’s private jet from Washington to the UK this year, after giving a speech to celebrate what would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday. The Atlantic Bridge aimed to promote the “special relationship” that flourished between Thatcher and the US president.

Fox, Werritty and Hintze refused to comment.

William A Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and counsel for 3M, said: “We are concerned about what role representatives of the Minister of Defence might have played in the demands that were placed on 3M the weekend of June 18 2011. Needless to say, we are increasingly troubled by the facts that are emerging – and committed to uncovering the truth about this possible conspiracy.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds