There’s a great selection of writers named of the cover of our Christmas issue. But
one name, however, may stand out: Adam Werritty, who has written an article giving his take on the scandal that brought down Liam Fox earlier this year. We thought CoffeeHousers might care to read
the whole thing (naturally, before buying a copy of the issue here), so here it
When you hire a morning suit for a wedding, you count on being photographed a few times on the day — for photos that will be quickly buried in wedding albums. But by now, half the country
will probably have seen pictures of me as Liam Fox’s best man at his wedding, six years ago. Had I known, I’d perhaps have hired a suit that fitted a little better. But I’d never
have imagined that I’d end up in a Force 12 political storm. When this all began, some three months ago, I opted to keep a low profile, thinking that any other course of action would only fan
the media flames. Instead, my silence just encouraged ever more lurid and absurd accusations. I have never spoken publicly about this surreal experience, until now.
My story starts on an evening in Dubai six months ago when my then girlfriend and I ended up in an American steak house called Ruth’s Chris. Out of the many thousands of eateries in the city,
we couldn’t have made a worse choice. Five minutes after we sat down, a British expat businessman named Harvey Boulter arrived on the table opposite us. I’d met him once before, but I
had no intention of meeting him on this trip. However, out of politeness I said hello. The rest is history — and a history which I very much regret.
We stayed on after dinner as Boulter wanted to talk to me about Cellcrypt, his mobile phone encryption software technology. When we first met several months earlier, he’d discussed making it
available to British troops in Afghanistan, free of charge, to enable them to make free ‘welfare’ calls home. A worthwhile idea, I thought, and one worth supporting. I mentioned to him
that I was meeting my friend Liam Fox the next day — he asked if he could talk to Liam about Cellcrypt over a coffee. I passed on his request, and the next day the meeting went ahead. Big
mistake. I ought to have left it firmly to official channels to handle. They exist for a reason — specifically, to ensure that full and accurate records of conversations and meetings can be
Within a few days, Boulter had legal proceedings issued against him in New York by 3M, the US multinational corporation, for alleged ‘blackmail’ — the details of which are too
bizarre and legally contentious to repeat here. Both Liam and I were dragged into the ensuing legal mess, with press hyper-scrutiny soon following. Who was I? What was my job? Why had so many
meetings between Liam and I taken place? A media witch hunt ensued: wrongdoing was presumed to be lurking somewhere in all this. Things certainly looked bad and in politics appearances — as
much as substance — can be deadly.
I’ve been friends with Liam for years and we’ve worked together on his ‘Atlantic Bridge’ group and also his efforts to support reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka. My
numerous trips there contributed to the decision by the government to remove longstanding emergency regulations. It was an important step forward and something I’m proud to have been able to
help with. I’ve been asked on several occasions why I didn’t apply to be a special adviser. The answer: I actually know very little about defence policy and have never pretended
otherwise. Why should I be paid by the taxpayer for an expertise I didn’t possess?
So I continued to work outside of ‘officialdom’ in what was certainly an unusual role. I was funded by a number of donors and my job was to research and network. To meet various
experts, attend forums and conferences and get a solid understanding of various foreign affairs issues. This involved a lot of travel: international conferences and specific overseas trips to help
maintain important relationships covering Sri Lanka, the Middle East and UK/US relations.
I was depicted in some coverage as working in a ‘shadowy’ environment. But one man’s ‘clandestine’ meeting is another man’s informed and fascinating discussion.
I guess it really just boils down to a difference of perspective. But when the saga about my role and who funded it snowballed, the hunt was firmly on — especially after the extent of my
foreign travel was revealed, and how much of it coincided with Liam’s travel programme. My big problem was that, in effect, I was a ‘square peg’ which didn’t fit in the
civil service’s or the media’s ‘round hole’ mindset.
When it all blew up, I found myself simultaneously being labelled an intelligence officer, an arms dealer and a Walter Mitty figure who was also capable of running a rival foreign policy framework
single-handedly. Even I began to wonder who this Adam Werritty was. I’m all for a free press and responsible journalism. But in my case some more ‘imaginative’ approaches to news
gathering were used. One journalist was generous enough to buy someone who claimed to be a close friend multiple pints in a local pub in exchange for an ‘inside story’ on me. Once
he’d had his fill at the bar, he revealed his bombshell: he’d never met me. I’m also intrigued to know which journalist cooked up a fake email address in my name as part of a
less-than-cunning ploy to persuade a Singaporean hotel to email copies of my recent bill to them. The receptionist mistyped the concocted email address, and called me to check.
Much of what was written and reported was long on drama and innuendo, but short on details and specifics. What had this ‘villainous’ Adam Werritty actually done? I know and accept that
I made mistakes, some of which were sufficiently serious to have played their part in Liam’s resignation as Defence Secretary. As a close friend of his, I found this particularly hard. I was
certainly naive not to have better considered how my role, and regular contact with Liam, would look from the outside. In public life (or even on the fringes of it) you have to ask: how would this
look if it appeared in Private Eye magazine? I now know the answer.
During all this I found myself revisiting the same question over again: what had I done that was so wrong? A good friend put it well: the whole thing was ‘a storm in a Sri Lankan tea
cup’. For me, it’s time to move on to a new chapter of my life. I’ll always be a staunch Conservative, but other than casting my vote on polling day and delivering the occasional
political leaflet, I’m planning a future well away from politics. For now, I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with family — and Hogmanay with Liam, Jesme and other
close friends to toast the beginning of a new year. There are some things that even storms in a Sri Lankan tea cup don’t change.
At the request of Mr Werritty, the fee for this article was donated to the Help for Heroes charity.Tags: Adam Werritty, Defence, Liam Fox, Lobbying, Scandal, Spectator