Liam Fox under fire over "serious mistakes"

Defence secretary Liam Fox made “serious mistakes” in his dealings with his friend Adam Werritty but still has the prime minister’s support, David Cameron has said.

Fox's future had been in doubt over media and political accusations of risking national security by granting high level access to Werritty, his former flatmate, who has no official post within the defence ministry but presented himself as an adviser to Fox.

Cameron's comments came after an interim report on Fox's ties with Werritty, a close friend, found that the two men had met more times than previously disclosed -- 40 times over the past 18 months.

At least one meeting involving a foreign official was "inappropriate".

"It is clear ... that serious mistakes were made in allowing the distinction between professional responsibilities and personal loyalties to be blurred - and this has clearly raised concerns about impropriety and potential conflicts of interest," Cameron's office said in a statement.

However, the statement said the interim report indicated Fox did not discuss or give classified or other official defence-related information to Werritty, relieving pressure on Fox until the full report is published on October 21.

Fox was grilled by his fellow MPs for two hours today during a session of questions in the House of Commons over the number and nature of the visits and meetings Werrity accompanied him on.

But despite heckles Fox also retained the clear support of large numbers of his Conservative colleagues and he denied that Werrity had profited financially from any of the engagements he had attended.

Cameron had earlier on Monday, before reading the interim report, offered Fox his support and praised his performance.

"First of all let me say Liam Fox does an excellent job as secretary of state for defence," Cameron told the BBC. "He gives that department good leadership."