The Ministry of Defence is always strapped for cash but never short of intrigue.
Remember the urgent police inquiry that Liam Fox launched after a mole gave the Daily Telegraph his letter warning David Cameron about “draconian” cuts?
David Cameron aimed a broadside at the Ministry of Defence today (and by proxy at Liam Fox).
“That department does seem to have had a bit of problem for leaks which is worrying when that department is responsible for security.”
On one level this is fair enough. Leaks are extremely unsettling for ministers and senior officials.
But at the MoD, the problem hasn’t been leaks. It has been a willingness to cover up uncomfortable truths. How else did it end up with a black hole of £36bn? Some more transparency — whether authorised or not — would only have been beneficial.
The coalition certainly believes this in principle. But when transparency makes life difficult for them rather than Labour, they struggle.
Take James Kirkup’s excellent scoop today. Fox’s reaction was to say that it was written by a “junior official” and that it had not “been authorised, requested or seen by an MoD minister”.
Which begs the question, why not? Why didn’t ministers see this well argued, plainly written and insightful critique of the most important defence review since the Cold War?