U.K. Defense Minister Quits

LONDON -- Britain's defense minister quit Friday amid escalating questions about the role of his friend and former roommate, who was present on scores of overseas trips despite having no official role.

Defense Secretary Liam Fox became the first Conservative Party lawmaker to quit Britain's Cabinet since the country's coalition government took office in May 2010.

Fox was cornered by questions over the influence his friend Adam Werritty wielded on policy, and who was funding his tours across the globe to join the minister on 18 overseas visits.

"I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred," Fox told Prime Minister David Cameron in his resignation letter. "The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this."

Cameron, who had vowed to wait for the results of a government inquiry before deciding on Fox's fate, was expected to appoint Transport Secretary Philip Hammond into Fox's defense role.

The British leader said Fox said had overseen changes that would ensure the armed forces were "fully equipped to meet the challenges of the modern era," praising his work.

"On Libya, you played a key role in the campaign to stop people being massacred by the Gadhafi regime and instead win their freedom," Cameron wrote.

Werritty, 34, served as the best man at Fox's wedding in 2005. Though he did not have any official, paid role with the defense ministry, he previously issued business cards listing him as an adviser to Fox.