Theresa May is accused of ‘hypocrisy’ as it’s revealed British officials ‘flew to Saudi Arabia for trade talks just days after journalist’s murder despite her insistence they wouldn’t’
- Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called revelations ‘disgusting’
- She blasted hypocrisy’ after May vowed in the Commons no official would travel
- Revelations state officials travelled to the oil-rich state and ‘acted on the fringes’
UK officials flew to Saudi Arabia during an investment conference just days after the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.
While the senior officials from the Department of International Trade and the Home Office didn’t actually enter the conference, they were ‘on the fringes’ and held secretive meetings with business men in nearby hotels.
Theresa May had expressly said that no UK representatives or ministers would attend the three-day event in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Officials and business personnel from all over the world, supposed to include UK officials, pulled out of conference in Saudi Arabia in the midst of the controversy over Khashoggi death
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She said in the Commons in October: ‘No minister or official is attending the investment conference in Saudi Arabia.
‘And the Home Secretary is taking action against all suspects to prevent them entering the UK.
‘If these individuals currently have visas, those visas will be revoked today.’
While no UK official actually entered the Future Investment Initiative conference, The Mirror are reporting that officials definitely travelled to the oil-rich state and acted on the fringes from nearby hotels and restaurants.
Theresa May,pictured here with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had said no UK official would travel to the conference in Saudi Arabia over concerns around the killing
They reported that officials included Simon Penney, Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East.
The UK’s secretary of state for international trade was supposed to have pulled out of the conference, nicknamed ‘Davos in the Desert’, which ran from 22-25 October amid concern over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
British officials had said Liam Fox decided it was not ‘the right time’ and urged Saudi leaders to conduct a ‘credible’ investigation into the case surrounding Mr Khashoggi.
A spokesman from Dr Fox’s department added at the time: ‘We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry blasted UK’s attendance, calling it ‘hypocritical’
‘Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.’
Labour has called the revelations ‘disgusting’ while Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told The Mirror the clandestine deals were ‘typical of the government’s hypocrisy over the Khashoggi murder’.
The conference, which hosted officials from all over the world, saw £40 billion worth of deals signed with Saudi Arabia when the uproar over Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment was at its peak.
Google, HP and Uber were among around 40 huge companies and participants that pulled out of the conference in the wake of the killing.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary also told The Mirror that the government have a ‘loudly expressed determination to find out who ordered this killing’ but it ‘goes out the window the more the evidence points to Crown Prince bin Salman.’
She had previously called on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to suspend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia as well as imposing fines on those found responsible for the journalist’s death.
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