I don’t know whether anything improper happened when the Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox met his friend, best man and former flatmate, Adam Werrity 40 times either at his office in the Ministry of Defence or while on trips abroad in his ministerial capacity. It certainly sounds a bit suspicious.
For most ordinary people the nearest we get to this sort of thing is “Bring your child to work” day. I can’t say I’ve ever invited any of my friends to sit in on meetings I’m having at work or while on a business trip. Other than immediate family, co-workers and close neighbours I’m struggling to think of anyone I’ve seen forty times in the last year. I probably saw my best man forty times in a year when we lived walking distance away from each other, but that would still have been mainly down the pub, never at either of our places of work.
Even if it is all just a misunderstanding or a misjudgement on Liam Fox’s part (sorry, even though he is a real doctor, I just can’t keep calling him Dr Fox) it is a ludicrous one. Is it really that hard to find people who are capable of becoming MPs and Ministers who don’t have to think hard about not doing things which ordinary people will find odd and whiffing of corruption or ineptitude? Do these people really have so much clout anyway, even after their strange behaviour is known, that they become too indispensable to sack? It isn’t a party thing, Lord Mandelson’s resignations amongst others shows that this is just what we appear to have to be able to accept in our leaders. It is one thing to have someone like Andy Coulson and give him a “second chance” – in a way the more deeply mired in the worst of what the tabloids could do he was the better suited he would be to a job advising the Prime Minister on how to deal with the press. Quite another for Ministers who are meant to be doing a job in the interests of the country to be treating it as a jolly or bringing their pals in for a chinwag about non-work stuff wherever they happen to be in the world at the time.