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‘Liam Fox was Sri Lanka’s influential friend in British cabinet’ – SL paper

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 October 2011 08:55 No Comment]

While the British government was quick in the wake of former Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s resignation to assert – somewhat unconvincingly, given a plethora of UK press reports about his activities – that he had “not” been running a shadow foreign policy in relation to Sri Lanka and other countries, one at variance from his government’s, the Sri Lankan Sunday Times made clear he had been. “Sri Lanka has lost probably the only influential friend it had in the British Cabinet,” the paper said in its editorial this week. In a separate editorial, the paper also mourned the loss of another friend of Sri Lanka – Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

“[I] t is correct that [Dr. Fox] ran his own foreign policy — for he was not burdened by the weight of his constituents who may have formed part of the Sri Lankan Diaspora nor was he smarting over a snub from the Sri Lankan Government,” the paper said.

“He was a friend of Sri Lanka and rare among the current breed of British politicians for he swam against the tide.”

“Government leaders in Colombo were wont to milk the natural affinity Dr. Fox had for this country irrespective of whether it was detrimental to or compromised Dr. Fox himself.”

“[T]he departure of Dr. Fox from a seat of influence in the British establishment is an added blow to Sri Lanka,” the paper said, referring international criticism of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime.

The Sri Lankan Sunday Times attributed Dr. Fox’s downfall thus: “[he] was a victim of personal indiscretion and in part back-stabbing by forces, some of them within his own ranks.”

The paper did not elaborate, and nonetheless expressed hope “Dr. Fox’s political career is not over.”

In a second editorial on the death of Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi, the Sunday Times said “Although a majority of Libyans seem to be happy that Gaddafi was killed, he was a friend of Sri Lanka (though Dr. Fox will hate the comparison).”

“Our commitment to non-alignment and our opposition to imperialist designs in whatever form, make us pay him an element of respect at his death in so far as his longstanding support for Sri Lanka was concerned even though a large section of his country’s population and the Western world are jubilant over it.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Fox who resigned ahead of the release of the report by an internal investigation by the British government which found him in breach of the ministerial code, was this week facing further investigations by a Parliamentary standards commissioner, for not declaring political donations.

And a secretive private intelligence company said this week it had donated GBP45,000 to a trust that Dr. Fox had set up in relation to Sri Lanka, as well as GBP 15,000 to an equally secretive company, Pargav, whose sole employee, close friend Adam Werritty, had acted as Dr. Fox’s personal envoy to Sri Lanka.

The ‘Sri Lanka Development Trust’ has been the subject of several British press reports, notably for having “achieved nothing other than funding Dr. Fox’s visits to Sri Lanka.”

The activities of Pargav remain a mystery and the subject of British press scrutiny.

[Full Coverage]

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