Ministerial Code to be tightened
The Ministerial Code will be rewritten after the Fox affair, I hear. Sir Gus O'Donnell has concluded that there was a loophole between the spirit of the rules and the letter.
Essentially, he has concluded that the "close and visible association" between Dr Fox and Adam Werritty, at home and abroad, especially combined with the latter's buisiness cards describing himself as an "adviser to the SofS", were all likely to have misled people.
This fuelled an impression that Adam Werritty spoke on behalf of the UK Government.
That key conclusion may sound mild to people who have been reading amazing tales in the papers about Mr Werritty plotting regime change in Iran (and I've no idea if these claims are true or not) but in Whitehall terms this is toxic. The business of politics depends on everyone saying the same thing: That goes for Cabinet members talking to the UK media, for example, but also for British ministers, diplomats and officials speaking to foreign countries. Any gaps in the rhetoric weaken the overall impact and make other countries speculate that a stance is not solid.
Werritty, who appeared to outsiders to be a member of Fox's staff but talked a completely different language to the Foreign Office representatives, was in Whitehall terms a rogue elephant. It seems that Dr Fox's arrangements raised alarm bells but he felt that using Mr Werritty as a mate and sounding board did not breach any rules in the Ministerial Code and there was an impasse.
Therefore, the Code must change so that in future it is a firm duty on ministers to keep a distinct line between mates and mandarins.
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