Liam Fox has resigned from his position as Secretary of State for Defence, following the row about his friend Adam Werritty.
Over the last week pressure has intensified on the minister over the role Werritty had in his official Government work – despite not holding an official position.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Fox admitted he had "mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred".
[See also: What Liam Fox did wrong]
The relationship between Fox and Werritty has been in the spotlight for weeks, with fresh revelations coming almost daily about Werritty’s role in the Defence Secretary’s work.
The most serious allegations are that Werritty, who was best man at Fox’s wedding, acted as an adviser to Fox and had business cards printed describing himself as such, despite not holding an official position in either the Civil Service or the Conservative party.
Other revelations include the fact Werritty had met with Fox during 18 of his overseas ministerial trips and visited the Ministry of Defence on at least 22 occasions since Fox came into office.
This raised serious questions about who was funding Werritty’s lifestyle, given he was not a Ministry of Defence employee.
However, until today Dr Fox had seemed determined to hold on to his position and David Cameron had refused to remove him until the full facts had emerged and been properly considered.
Fox claimed previously that the meetings were the result of their friendship and had not influenced government policy, as such he felt it would be wrong to step down from a position of importance when he didn’t feel he had done anything wrong.
This has now changed, and in a letter to the Prime Minister Fox said: “I have always placed a great deal of importance on accountability and responsibility. As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my Government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.
[See full coverage: DR Liam Fox's resignation]
“I have also repeatedly said that the national interest must always come before personal interest. I now have to hold myself to my own standard. I have therefore decided, with great sadness, to resign from my post as Secretary of State for Defence – a position which I have been immensely proud and honoured to have held.”
The Prime Minister said he was “very sorry” Fox had resigned, adding: “But I understand your reasons.”
Fox – who retained support from many of his colleagues throughout this affair – will return to the Conservative back benches.
Philip Hammond, Member of Parliament for Runnymede and Weybridge, has been named as a replacement for Fox in the Ministry of Defence. Hammond was previously Secretary of State for Transport.