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Fox connections with Sri Lanka raises questions on UK national security

[TamilNet, Sunday, 9 October 2011 15:58 No Comment]

Shady associations and modus operandi of British Defence Minister Liam Fox in his dealings with the genocidal regime of Sri Lanka endanger the national security of UK, media reports from UK said this week. The revelations, following information through Wikileaks cables on the handling of Sri Lanka by the US Asst. Secretary of State Robert Blake, show how certain individuals sitting in the world Establishments pervert international relations upholding global order of justice, which particularly affects the case of the Eezham Tamils, said diaspora Tamil circles in London. Politics of Eezham Tamils in the diaspora and in the island need to address the issue in appropriate democratic ways to achieve reconciliation in their engagement with the international community and not to forget similar elements sitting in the Indian Establishment too, the diaspora circles further said.

Liam_Fox_1_94258_200 It is time that politics in UK should stop people like Liam Fox meddling in shady ways with a prime question of international justice such as the one between Eezham Tamils and genocidal State of Sri Lanka. As the cradle of democracy, Britain should start dealing in a transparent way with Eezham Tamils who democratically seek independence and liberation from genocide, diaspora political circles in London said citing a long-standing accusation that UK’s Defence was always working against Eezham Tamils, overtly and covertly.

At the height of the genocidal war, when hundreds of thousands of Eezham Tamils in London took to streets demanding the war to be stopped, UK’s representative in the UN Security Council, John Sawers said that the LTTE was long blighting Sri Lanka Government. Sir John Sawers is currently the chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Britain, the former colonial power responsible for the creation of a unitary Ceylon, is yet to accept that the Eezham Tamils went through genocide and are going through a structural genocide and this is a serious concern and grievance among Eezham Tamils.

The UK supplied arms to Sri Lanka throughout its bitter civil war – comfort for arms manufacturers but none for Sri Lankan taxpayers. Colombo has increased the defence budget by 6%, The Guardian said Saturday.

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The Defence Secretary of the current Conservative government in UK, Liam Fox was long known as a friend of Colombo and a friend of Rajapaksa regime.

Fox, getting into the scene of the island’s civil war since 1995, soon became an influential person among the Sinhala elite ruling the island and he was successful in uniting them against the national challenge coming from Eezham Tamils, the Guardian feature on Saturday observed.

“The ‘Fox agreement’ was a landmark, the first time an outsider had managed to broker such a consensus in a notoriously violent political setup,” the Guardian feature said on Fox’s effort to unify Sinhala elite.

As new Sinhala power brokers coming with Rajapaksa regime, Fox was again in the game in 2007 when he became acquainted with Rajapaksa’s former foreign minister Rohita Bogollagama.

“Fox, a neocon in outlook, took a rather different view,” when the Labour Government of UK and the USA wanted to restrain Rajapaksa regime, and “his new friends turned to him for help,” the Guardian article said, adding that “In the last few months of the war Fox, who was seen in the capital Colombo as a possible future Tory leader, became an influential messenger boy – carrying back rebuttals to western capitals from Sri Lanka.”

Last year, when the visiting Rajapaksa’s lecture was cancelled by Oxford anticipating public protest, and when a war-crimes accused SL General accompanying Rajapaksa had to flee anticipating court warrant, Liam Fox chose to meet Rajapaksa at his hotel, raising eyebrows in the British Foreign Office.

Fox cancelled his visit to Colombo in last December following a row with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, but he went on with his visit in July this year, meeting Rajapaksa and others of the regime, ostensibly in the guise of delivering Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture.

The visit enraged the Eezham Tamils and gave a boost to the Rajapaksa regime accused of war crimes.

* * *

Fox is now accused of association with an extra-official individual Adam Werritty in his visits to Colombo and in dealings favouring Rajapaksa regime.

“Liam Fox was joined by a close personal friend and self-styled adviser when he met senior Sri Lankan ministers during an official visit this summer despite claiming that Adam Werritty had never accompanied him on government business,” The Guardian said on Thursday.

The Guardian released a photograph of Fox arriving to give the address on 9 July that shows Werritty in the background, following closely behind Sri Lankan government ministers and the British high commissioner, John Rankin.

Officially Adam Werritty, a former apartment-mate of Fox, had nothing to do with the UK government, never had any security vetting, but he used to display a business card with the logo of the British House of Commons, discribing him as Advisor to the Defence Secretary.

“Questions have also been raised about whether Werritty has sought to profit financially from the relationship. Werritty ran a defence company while Fox was shadow defence secretary, and he was involved in a health company while Fox was shadow health secretary, The Guardian said Thursday, adding that “Werritty, 34, has accompanied Fox on several trips to Sri Lanka , including one in 2009 when the pair reportedly met the president, prime minister and foreign minister. He lived with Fox in a flat near Tower Bridge before the defence secretary married Jesme Baird in 2005.”

Werritty was also running a charity, Atlantic Bridge for Fox, inside Fox’s offices in the parliament, which was dissolved just last week. The charity was designed to promote ‘the special relationship’ between the UK and the US.

A major US lobbying organisation, American Legislative Exchange Council that has 300 corporate members and 2000 state legislators of the US as members was functioning as the funding sister organisation of the Fox charity.

Apart from the Sri Lanka visits, Fox is also accused of having an ‘irregular’ meeting in Dubai, arranged by Werritty that was demonstrating new defence technologies.

The Dubai meeting brokered by Werritty may lead to Fox being called to give evidence in a blackmail trial in the US, The Guardian said Friday.

* * *

The shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, said the growing evidence about Fox’s relationship with Werritty amounted to "a crisis engulfing the defence secretary".

"This gets murkier and murkier. People will be shocked Liam Fox is unable to provide straight answers to straight questions,” Murphy said.

"We have previously raised serious concerns about his insistence on visiting a Sri Lankan government failing to produce an independent and transparent investigation into allegations of war crimes,” the shadow defence secretary observed.

"We need a full explanation for his visit as well as clarification of the role of Adam Werritty. Mr Werritty’s role is unclear and is now becoming a real concern. We need to know precisely why he was on the visit, why this was denied and especially if he benefitted personally or professionally from the visit," he further said.

The most senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence had previously warned Liam Fox about his connections to a self-styled adviser and personal friend, Adam Werritty, the Guardian said it could reveal.

As accusations were mounting, Liam Fox on Thursday has asked the senior most civil servant, the Permanent Secretary of the Defence Ministry, to conduct an investigation whether there was any breach on national security.

It was "unthinkable" that the permanent secretary would not have already raised concerns about Werritty. "She would have raised it," Labour MP Kevan Jones told the Guardian. "She is there to protect the reputation of the department. And also to protect the secretary of state from any conflict of interest," the MP further said.

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