The Atlantic Bridge
The Atlantic Bridge Research and Education Scheme was an educational charity founded in 1997 with Margaret Thatcher as its president to promote Atlanticism, an ideology of cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States regarding political, economic, and defence issues. It was set up by Liam Fox, former Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom. Cabinet ministers Michael Gove, George Osborne and William Hague, and Chris Grayling have previously sat on its advisory panel, as have American senators Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. The organisation's principal staff included Catherine Bray (US Executive Director), Adam Werritty (UK Executive Director) and Kara Watt (Operations Director).
It was dissolved in September 2011, following a critical report from the Charity Commission the previous year.
In discussion with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Fox claimed that the think tank was intended to "bring people together who have common interests and recognise that...[they] will all be called upon to defend those... interests". Its work largely consisted of uniting British and American Conservatives and foreign policy hawks. This included meetings with John Ashcroft and Karl Rove and the presentation of awards to Rudy Giuliani and Henry Kissinger'
In 2003, when Fox was Shadow Secretary for Health, he also chaired a conference on "scientific research and medical provision". Speakers included Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, Timothy Morris of GlaxoSmithKline and Peter Farrow of Pfizer.
Funding and partnerships
The Atlantic Bridge was briefly a partnership program of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free-market organisation with extensive links to American State Legislators and corporate and industrial groups. It has hosted events with the Center for Security Policy, the Heritage Foundation and representatives from Lehman Brothers.
Patrons of the Atlantic Bridge have included UK Conservative Party donor Michael Hintze, who provided 58% of the charity's voluntary income, Pfizer, and Michael Lewis of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.
Charity Commission report
The Atlantic Bridge gained charitable status in 2003 as an "education and research scheme". In September 2009, the Charity Commission started a regulatory compliance case after receiving a complaint about the charity. A 2010 report by the Charity Commission ruled that it was "not evident that [it] had advanced education" and "may lead members of the public to call into question its independence from party politics". It was ordered to enact a 12-month review to bring it into line with its charitable objectives.
In October 2011, The Guardian newspaper published details of an alleged improper relationship and interactions between Adam Werritty and Liam Fox, culminating in Liam Fox's resignation on 14 October and a continuing official investigation. The controversy surrounded Werritty attending official defence meetings with Fox (notably in Pakistan) despite not being employed in any official capacity by the British government, Werritty's running of Pargav Ltd, and his ties with powerful Tory figures, supporters, and lobbyists through The Atlantic Bridge. Considering the rejected charitable status of The Atlantic Bridge, the question of Fox's independence and the distinction between the government, think-tanks, charities, and private business and corporate interests has been raised.
Werritty was investigated by senior civil servants led by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell. The published report implicated a company named IRG Ltd, "But the report, which named the six companies and individuals that funded Werritty's Pargav "slush fund", has raised more unanswered questions. Among the Pargav donors, including the mining tycoon Mick Davis, private investigations firm G3 and billionaire property mogul Poju Zabludowicz, is a company referred to as simply "IRG Ltd". More than 30 companies and organisations use the same initials, including an Iraq-focused charity, an executive recruitment agency linked to the former Tory minister Virginia Bottomley and a pizza restaurant in Basildon."
- "Atlantic Bridge collapse is a major blow to Neo-conservatives". LabourList. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "The Atlantic Bridge Board Members". The Atlantic Bridge. Archived from the original on 24 May 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- Rupert Neate (5 October 2011). "Charity created by Liam Fox axed after watchdog issues criticism". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Regulatory Case Report – The Atlantic Bridge Research and Education Scheme (PDF) (Report). Charity Commission for England and Wales. 26 July 2010. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Fox: Learn from Iraq". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Meeting between Dr. Liam Fox MP and Attorney General Ashcroft". The Atlantic Bridge – via – Web archive. 16 December 2004. Archived from the original on 12 February 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Giuliani lifts depressed Tories". ConservativeHome. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Kissinger has come to town". New Statesman. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Scientific Research Conference". The Atlantic Bridge – via – Web archive. 10 May 2003. Archived from the original on 31 March 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Catherine Bray – Director, International Relations and the Atlantic Bridge Project". ALEC. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- George Monbiot (2 February 2017). "How corporate dark money is taking power on both sides of the Atlantic". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Ghostwriting the Law". Mother Jones – via – Web archive. October 2002. Archived from the original on 3 October 2002. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "News". The Atlantic bridge – via – Web archive. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- Simon Bowers (11 October 2011). "Michael Hintze: Liam Fox backer who helped to bankroll foreign trips". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Liam Fox – Sponsorship or financial or material support". They Work For You. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "The Atlantic Bridge Education and Research Scheme – scanned accounts, year ended 3 February 2007" (PDF). Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "1099513 – The Atlantic Bridge Research and Education Scheme". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "The Atlantic Bridge Education and Research Scheme – scanned accounts, year ended 3 February 2010" (PDF). Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- BBC News – Liam Fox row 'distracting MoD staff', Tory MP says. BBC. Retrieved on 2011-10-12.
- Sir Gus O'Donnell (18 October 2011). Allegations against Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP: Report by the Cabinet Secretary (Report). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Neate, Rupert; Booth, Robert; McVeigh, Karen; O'Donnell, Gus (20 October 2011). "Downing Street pressed for more detail of donors named in Liam Fox report". The Guardian. London.
- The Atlantic Bridge official website (now offline)
- Liam Fox's Atlantic Bridge linked top Tories and Tea Party activists, Jaime Doward, The Guardian, 16 October 2011