The Guardian

The Guardian offers an insight into how staff reporter broke the Liam Fox story

By Hamish Mackay

October 17, 2011 | 3 min read

The Guardian’s website has published a fascinating breakdown on how its reporter Rupert Neate has led the way in uncovering the story which led to the resignation of the defence minister Liam Fox.

Neate’s persistent probing prompted intense media speculation over Fox’s professional relationship with Adam Werritty, and the story continues to run and run.

Fox was born and brought up in a council house in East Kilbride and is a graduate of Glasgow University.

This is how Neate’s dogged reporting triggered one of the biggest news stories of the year and caused a major crisis for the Coalition Government.

June 6: In a small piece in The Observer, Neate reveals the Ministry of Defence's civilian research arm, Ploughshare Innovations, and various private investors are suing the US company 3M for up to £41m in damages for not commercially developing a new technology that could have been vital in the fight against the deadly MRSA hospital superbug.

June 21: 3M accuses Harvey Boulter, CEO of Porton Capital, and an investment fund that worked with the government on the MRSA test, of "blackmail". It follows an email from Boulter to 3M in which he says David Cameron's cabinet "might very shortly be discussing the rather embarrassing situation of [3M CEO Sir] George [Buckley]'s knighthood".

Fox admits he was made aware of 3M's legal dispute with Boulter. He had previously denied that the MRSA legal battle was discussed with him.

August 8: Neate reveals Fox's friend Adam Werritty advised him on a meeting with Boulter in Dubai, and that Werritty carries a card describing himself as an "adviser to Rt Hon Liam Fox MP".

October 5: Werritty's regular visits to the MoD without security clearance are revealed.

October 6: It emerges that the Atlantic Bridge, a charity set up by Fox and run by Werritty, was dissolved by its trustees after criticism by the Charity Commission.

October 7: Fresh disclosures that Fox was accompanied by Werritty on an overseas visit to Sri Lanka scotch previous denials made by the minister.

October 8: Neate and other Guardian reporters reveal Werritty ran Atlantic Bridge from inside Fox's office at parliament.

October 9: Film and email evidence shows Werritty met the president of Sri Lanka with Fox in a London hotel last year, despite having no role in government.

October 10: Lobbyists were paid thousands of pounds to arrange meetings between businessmen and Fox, Neate reveals.

October 11: Pressure mounts as further details of the meetings Fox and Werritty held begin to emerge.

October 12: The media dig into the Dubai records.

October 14 and 15: As more and more details emerge of the extent of Werritty and Fox's operations, the defence secretary's position becomes untenable.

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