CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE – DEFENCE RESPONSIBILITIES – 10 October 2011

Dr Julian Lewis: Given the great pressure on MOD finances, has my right hon. Friend considered following the example of the shadow Defence team by accepting very substantial sponsorship from generous British defence companies, such as Cellcrypt?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): No.]

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Dr Lewis: My right hon. Friend has been very frank indeed in accepting that it was a bad mistake not to have an official present at the Dubai meeting and he has apologised for that. Does he also accept that the main victim of an official not being present was he himself? Had an official been present and had a proper note been taken, it would not have been possible for anyone else at the meeting to misrepresent what was said and then have to withdraw it afterwards.

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): Yes, it does damage to me as the Minister to have failed to take the appropriate precautions of having a meeting minuted and having an official attend. It also, sadly, does damage to the Government in that it might give the appearance of something being wrong. However, I will say to my hon. Friend that it beggars belief that a particular individual at that meeting, Mr Boulter, has said that I discussed with him a knighthood and said that I was going to have the Cabinet discuss a knighthood being taken away. I was very clear that I was willing to give evidence in a US court if required, because I was very clear about what was said and what was not said. Mr Boulter has subsequently given a totally different version of events, which, sadly, leads me to believe that he is a very poor witness and lacking in credibility.]