Gould and Werritty Relationship 27


British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould has refused to answer my questions about his relationship with Werritty. With multiple Whitehall sources having pointed first me and then the Guardian, Times, Mail and Independent to a link between Fox-Werritty and Mossad, this refusal is unacceptable. Just what was the Ambassador’s relationship with Werritty and how much did he know?

This is the reply I received to my questions to Matthew Gould:

As the Prime Minister made clear in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the matter is being looked into by the Cabinet Secretary who is producing a report. We are working with the Cabinet Office on this and cannot prejudice its outcome by commenting in advance.

But I was not asking Gould for opinions, but rather for a series of simple facts. Knowledge of the facts of the case cannot prejudice a report – unless the purpose of the report is to be extremely selective about the facts allowed to come out.

These are the questions I put to Matthew Gould:

You are widely reported in the media to have met Mr Werritty with Liam Fox at a meeting in the MOD before your posting to Tel Aviv.

1) Was this part of your official series of pre-posting briefing meetings?
2) Who organised the meeting? Was it organised by another official, eg in Heads of Mission Section (if it still exists) or the geographical department?
3) At what stage did you know that Werritty would be in the meeting?
4) How was Werritty introduced to you?
5) Who did you think that Werritty was? In what capacity did you believe or presume or were you told that Werritty was at the meeting?
6) Was there any aspect of the discussion which you would normally view as classified? If so at what classification?
7) Was any note made or minute or letter written as a result of what transpired at that meeting? Did any other action arise?
8 ) What was the classification of any note, document, minute or letter arising from the discussion at that meeting?
9) Had you ever met Werritty before?
10) You and Werritty reportedly both attended an anti-Iranian conference in Israel, as did Fox. What contact did you have with Werritty at that conference or in its margins? What did you discuss?
11) Please list the total number of occasions on which you have met, corresponded with (including email), or spoken by telephone with Werritty.

I am willing to bet the report gives almost none of these answers. As it is apparently due out in the next half hour, let me remind you what my outraged Cabinet Office source told me a week ago had been stitched up in advance:

Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, has fixed with Cameron the lines of his investigation to allow him to whitewash Fox. This will be done by the standard method of only asking very narrow questions, to which the answer is known to be satisfactory. In this case, the investigation into Werritty’s finances will look only at the very narrow question of whether he received specific payments that can be linked directly to the setting up of specific meetings with Fox. The answer is thought to be no; that is what Fox was indicating by his extraordinary formulation to the House of Commons that Werritty was “not dependent on any transactional behaviour to maintain his income”.

So O’Donnell will announce that Werritty received no specific money for specific meetings with or introductions to Fox.

But the deal between Cameron, Fox and O’Donnell is that O’Donnell will not address the much more important question of who funded Werritty and why. Having claimed there was no wrongdoing, O’Donnell will say Mr Werritty’s finances are private and should not be made public. It was on that basis that Werritty agreed to give financial details to Sue Gray in the Cabinet Office yesterday.

The Cabinet Office will only look for direct evidence of a little grubby money-making for introductions to Fox. But what is actually happening is much worse and much more serious. Who paid for Werritty’s eighteen overseas trips with Liam Fox and his stays in exclusive hotels in the World’s most expensive destinations? What does he live on?

The answer is that Werritty is paid by representatives of far right US and Israeli sources to influence the British defence secretary. It has been discussed within the MOD whether Werritty is being – knowingly or otherwise – run as an agent of influence by the CIA or Mossad. That is why the chiefs of the armed forces are so concerned, and why there is today much gagging at the stitch up within the Cabinet Office.

Newspaper revelations may have caused O’Slimebag to deviate the tiniest bit from this formula. but I am willing to bet this is still basically the stitch-up we will see,


27 thoughts on “Gould and Werritty Relationship

  • John Goss

    Who was expecting Matthew Gould to answer your questions before the whitewash, sorry, inquiry? But there is nothing to stop him after today.

  • Jon

    I am in two minds about whether one can demand a reply from a public servant in this way. From a moral perspective, and from a freedom of information perspective, yes. But if all Cabinet investigations were honest and thorough, there would still be rules about talking to the public/journalists outside of usual channels, to guard against media stitch-ups.
    .
    In any case, if Gould were to give frank answers to your email, I should imagine it would be regarded as a breach of civil service code, and he’d lose his job. I don’t agree with that arrangement, but it is what it is – and is too high a price for 95% of people.

  • Tony

    At the heart of this is the way the Civil Service has been marginalised. This was honed to suit their own venal and secretive needs by the last government (Blair and Brown versions) but has obviously continued. It is that marginalisation and vacuum which leaves space for the Werritty’s and the rogue ministers. Since it has been going on for years where were the complaining voices of the Cabinet secretaries since 1997, yes including O’Donnell since 2005? For him to be reporting on the abuses resulting from his own negligence in this respect is just one of the bitter ironies. Another is found in the answer to ‘who is the Minister responsible for the Civil Service?’ Full marks if you said David Cameron.

  • OldMark

    Gould’s answer doesn’t preclude his responding to Craig’s questions after the publication of O’Donnell’s report. In which case, as I transmogrify into Mystic Meg, I foresee the following responses to these questions –
    Q2-Q4 inclusive- ‘I cannot recall’
    Q7- ‘no’
    Q9 & Q10- ‘I cannot recall’.

  • Tris

    Tony: with respect, I’m sure, having read political biographies and diaries from a good way before Blair, the it was ever thus.

    As I understood it, it is not Gus O’Donnell’s job to investigate these matters. Was not someone appointed by the last government to look into this kind of issue?

    Of course, I’m not saying that this appointee would have been any less reliable in his reporting than O’Donnell, but Cameron seems to have by-passed him in any case. I wonder why.

    I’m sure, as you pointed out in the earlier post, Craig, that you have people who can ask these questions on your behalf and whom perhaps Mr Ambassador will find it hard to refuse answers. You tried it the nice way.

    It’s important that this attempted whitewash flakes as soon as it is applied. Fortunately, the internet has changed the nature of play. Something that just won’t go away is more of an embarrassment to the government than an out and out confession. Done, dusted, forever a stain on the character of the perpetrator, but forgotten from the party’s point of view.

    The answer to these people is to keep blogging about it; keep the papers writing about it.

  • Stephen

    Surely these are questions for the politicians to answer rather than career civil servants since don’t they have the responsibility for the Ambassador’s actions. Did you answer such questions directly from the public when you were our man in Uzbekistan? Shouldn’t they be in Hague’s and Hammonds in tray?

    It does strike me that Mossad or the Tea Party tendency didn’t really have to pay Werrity in order to influence Fox as he is already pretty much in line with their thinking – and my guess is that the payments were being made as a favour to Fox so that he could have a more free range adviser to do his bidding than would otherwise be the case if Werrity became a Government SPAD. Fox also probably saw this (incorrectly) as a way of getting round the law in accepting donations from foreigners and the requirement to disclose the source of donations.

    There have been increasing links between the Tories and the right of the US Republican Party in recent years and to be honest I don’t think that have really done much to hide them.

  • Stephen

    Has Craig resigned his membership of the LibDems given the coalition partners of their coalition partners?

  • craig Post author

    Stephen,

    An Ambassador is entitled and indeed expected to answer questions direct, his answers should of course be in line with government policy. Most of the questions I am asking are simple questions of fact. If any cannot be answered because of classification he should say so.

    Their difficulty of course lies in arguing that any dealing with Werrity was classified, as he had no status or clearance.

  • MarkU

    Given the large proportion of ‘Friends of Israel’ in the Conservative party, it is blindingly obvious that they cannot be trusted to investigate this affair in anything like an impartial fashion. Neither New Labour nor the Liberal party can be trusted either, for precisely the same reason. It is unacceptable (or should be) for our parliament to be infiltrated in this way by foreign influences.

    You will note that I said ‘foreign influences’ rather than Israel because it is absurd even on its face to imagine that Israel, by itself, has anything even faintly resembling the clout needed to achieve the control that it seems to have over the foreign policies of the US and Europe. The Israelis are just pawns, handily situated in the oil-rich part of the world, useful because any criticism of them can be deflected by accusations of antisemitism.

    It seems to me that for the last few decades the national armies and intelligence services of the US and Europe have been used to conquer the planet for the cause of capitalist fundamentalism (the stuff that Dickens wrote about). Naturally they use ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ or more recently ‘protecting civilians’ as a pretext, but anyone who examines what they actually do, as opposed to their fine sounding words, can see the truth.

  • ed h

    You might have had more chance of a reply if you had left out the “belated congratulations” bit at the beginning. It sounded a bit phoney.

  • Tom Welsh

    “But I was not asking Gould for opinions, but rather for a series of simple facts”.

    But how can they decide what the facts are until they have agreed the official story?

  • Parky

    “We are working with the Cabinet Office on this…”
    /
    I think that tells us all we need to know about this little matter.
    /
    I think the ambassador in question was being interviewed by Eamonn Holmes on Sky News this morning. I say interviewed, it was more of a cosy chat, no sign of him leaving the studio in a huff. Holmes is no Robin Day and most certainly is no journalist.

  • Tom Welsh

    “The answer is that Werritty is paid by representatives of far right US and Israeli sources to influence the British defence secretary”.

    Since when has the British defence secretary needed to be told anything but what his orders from Washington are? What is this “influence” of which you speak?

  • Ben

    Well so much for transparent government. Ask a sensible question, and get kicked in the nuts for your troubles. This is a blatant display of the contempt we the people are held at by these jumped up groupies.
    ,
    Further, this makes clear as pike staff the reason for the infantile packs of lies fed to us all, post the charade of “investigations”. This is designed for letting the serial criminals to get away, and get on with devising a new angle on grinding the same axe that hey were busy with, before they were caught with their trousers around their ankle scenario.
    ,
    Duchyou love the smell of Democracy/Freedom/Values in the morning?
    ,
    Is there any other way of finding the answers for these top secret, and above top secret questions, anywhere?

  • mike

    So we’ve got Israel trying to influence the UK Defence Secretary, and we’ve got that risible Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador. As the latter may well have been decried as a casus belli, were the Israelis trying to get the UK onside for future military action, with Fox in the vanguard?

    In other words, are both plot and Fox connected?

    This assumes that Israel was, in some way, involved in the Iranian plot, which smacks of a neocon brainstorming session gone too far. Maybe lay off the energy drinks the next time, boys.

  • El Sid

    Nothing there. Nothing to worry about.
    .
    According to the Guardinog: Werritty only met with “Junior Ministers”.
    .
    That should get Gould’s goat up: What me, a junior functionary. Indeed!

  • Ruth

    ‘It has been discussed within the MOD whether Werritty is being – knowingly or otherwise – run as an agent of influence by the CIA or Mossad.’

    But why not being run by MI6?

  • Komodo

    “run as an agent of influence by the CIA or Mossad.’

    But why not being run by MI6?”

    Is there a difference any more?

  • Deco

    If he was on MI6’s radar then they must have wondered how it was that he was exposed to the information that made them interested in him in the first place. Isn’t this what intelligence agencies do: research a guy before they talk to him? And if they knew it was because of improper proximity to the defence minister, it was surely their duty to investigate. It would be very odd for them not to have done so. Perhaps Mr Murray should direct his questions to the MP for MI6, Rory Stewart?

  • MrD

    Unfortunately it looks as if this one is now going to go away. The shutters are going down, the press has turned to other matters. I can’t see any prospect of your getting an answer to any of your questions. My fear is that a new version of Atlantic Bridge will now be constructed, with the help of the usual suspects, only with Fox and Werrity out in the cold; and this time there won’t be an embarrassment like Werrity around to give the game away.

  • Phil Palmer

    He refused? “…and if he says no, he’s not a diplomat.” Maybe the rules have changed!

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