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Labour tells Gove to come clean on deals with Saudis

JUDICIAL co-operation with Saudi Arabia is “inappropriate” after the British ally beheaded 47 prisoners, shadow human rights minister Andy Slaughter MP said yesterday.
 
In a letter to Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Mr Slaughter demanded to know whether a prison partnership was still on the table between Britain and Saudi Arabia.
 
The reproach came after peace and human rights campaigners cried foul over the Tories’ feeble criticism of the Saudi government while still selling arms to the kingdom.
 
Referring to the memorandum of understanding on judicial co-operation signed by previous justice minister Chris Grayling, Mr Slaughter wrote: “I hope you agree with me that it would be inappropriate at present for the UK to be seen to be co-operating with the Saudi justice system.
 
“Serious concerns have been raised not only about the sentences and the manner in which the executions were carried out but also whether due process has been followed and the defendants received a fair trial.
 
“In particular, the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and three young Shia men whose offences appear to be taking part in political protests and demonstrations against the current government have caused dismay and outrage around the world.”
 
The government merely expressed “disappointment” over the mass executions, with Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood saying he was “deeply disturbed” at the growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
 
But Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith said the government’s stance was insufficient.
 
He added: “As long as Saudi enjoys the political and military support of the most powerful Western nations, then it will continue oppressing its own population and those of neighbouring states.”

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