Dubai businessman settles libel lawsuit brought by UK MP

Former British defence secretary Liam Fox previously sued Harvey Boulter over TV comments
Dubai businessman settles libel lawsuit brought by UK MP
Liam Fox, the former British defence secretary. (Getty Images)
By Beatrice Thomas
Thu 30 Jan 2014 02:54 PM

A libel case between a Dubai-based businessman and former British defence secretary Liam Fox over comments that helped expose the MP’s unusual working relationship with his best friend has been settled days before it was due before court.

London’s The Guardian reported that Fox, who resigned as defence secretary in 2011 following revelations his best friend Adam Werritty posed as his advsior, sued Briton Harvey Boulter for defamation over comments made to Sky News in 2011.

The lawsuit claimed Boulter, who is CEO of Porton Group, “gravely injured” Fox’s reputation and “exposed him to public scandal, contempt and odium" in the interview.

It claims that Boulter implied Fox “reprehensibly and dishonourably" failed to tell the truth about what took place during a business meeting on the 41st floor of a five-star hotel in Dubai.

In the interview, Boulter told Sky he was planning on "calling Dr Liam Fox and his pal Adam Werritty to give evidence in some of these ongoing legal disputes so they can tell the truth and so we can debunk these baseless allegations against me", the Guardian reported.

In two emails which formed part of the dispute, Boulter implied that the cabinet might interfere with a knighthood granted to the chief executive of a US company with which Boulter and the MoD were in dispute.

The company, 3M, and Boulter were involved in a separate court battle after 3M sued Boulter for alleged blackmail in 2011. Boulter counter-sued for libel and the case was eventually dismissed before trial.

The Guardian reported that Fox will collect a significant undisclosed sum in the settlement, paid by Boulter’s legal insurance.

As part of the settlement, Boulter unreservedly withdrew the statement and apologised for the "embarrassment and damage to [Fox's] reputation".

The settlement said both parties “accepted that neither at their meeting in Dubai nor on any other occasion was the matter discussed between Dr Fox and Mr Boulter”.

Outside court, Fox, who represents North Somerset, said: “I've always said that I told the truth and behaved ethically in the matters relating to this court case and I am very glad to be vindicated.”

Boulter said in a statement that he was pleased with the settlement of the case, which he believed will likely  pay a part of Fox’s claimed costs, but maintained “there remain many unanswered questions as to Mr Werritty's role”.

“I do not believe that these are the standards UK voters deserve or should expect from our political representatives.  Ultimately Dr Fox resigned from the Cabinet because his standards were not consistent with those set out in the Ministerial Code,” he said.

He said he believed it to be entirely reasonable that he could engage with the then UK Secretary of State for Defence through his adviser, Mr Werritty.

“However, Mr Werritty turned out not to be the person he claimed to be,” he said.

“Naturally I regret that Dr Fox and I became embroiled in the fanciful allegations advanced on behalf of 3M in the United States.

He added: “In 2011 I stated my belief that the 3M allegations were a publicity stunt targeting me however they ultimately served to expose the unusual relationship between Dr Fox and Mr Werritty, for which I have no regrets.”

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.