The furore surrounding Liam Fox over the Werrity affair is not the first time the Defense Secretary’s conduct and judgment has been called into questioned in relation to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is but one of a number of backdrops in the current political storm, but the media attention on Fox has also highlighted his attitude to the country, an attitude that seems to run counter to the prevailing government line.
Fox’s official visit with Adam Werrity in July this year, shortly after the airing of Channel 4’s ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ documentary, was condemned by many. It came at a time when the international community was waking up to the full horror of what had happened on the island during the 2009 conflict.
This official visit was in lieu of a trip planned in December 2010 which Fox was forced to call off. At the time there was speculation that the Foreign Office had applied pressure on him not to go. The planned visit was perceived by many to be an implicit or even explicit endorsement of the Sri Lankan government, and an unnecessary confusion of Britain’s approach to Sri Lanka.
Fox’s July 2011 visit saw these accusations leveled at him again, with the visit again being accused of muddying Britain’s approach to the Sri Lanka. This year Britain seems to be hardening toward Sri Lanka, with William Hague and David Cameron setting an end of year deadline for the Sri Lankan government to act and progress on investigating war crimes. It was also a British broadcaster, Channel 4, who sourced and made public the damning video evidence of war crimes. Yet Fox seems intent on cordiality with the Sri Lankan government. Now well-placed sources in Sri Lanka have told Channel 4 News that the government there asked Liam Fox’s friend Adam Werritty to lobby the UK government for arms supplies.
The Guardian had an interesting piece over the weekend outline Fox’s involvement with Sri Lankan politics over the years,
Sri Lanka does seem to matter to Fox, and he has given the country special attention over his career. But as with much in this situation, his current attitude to Sri Lanka and seemingly wilfull ignorance of his government’s stance and the wider problems there begs the question of his visit: ‘What was Liam Fox thinking?’