Hunt urged to act over missing Saudi journalist
Jeremy Hunt is under pressure to take tough action over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist after business leaders shunned the regime.
The foreign secretary was warned Britain must not be “craven” in its response to claims Jamal Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Financial Times editor Lionel Barber announced the newspaper is pulling its partnership in a high-profile economic conference in Riyadh and Sir Richard Branson has frozen several business links with the Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf al Saud earlier said he was “concerned” about Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Mr Hunt met the diplomat on Tuesday and later spoke to foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir by phone to voice the UK’s concerns but has not spoken publicly about the case since.
Saudi Arabia is Britain’s main ally in the region and Prime Minister Theresa May visited last year.
Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell warned the UK’s calls for a united international response in the wake of the Salisbury chemical weapons attack means failure to respond to the “vile crime” believed to have been carried out by the Saudis would be “hypocrisy of a very high order”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme: “The point I, and many others, make to the British Government is we should be a candid friend for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and not a craven friend. This is a very important issue now where Britain must react in an honourable way and if we don’t there’s a very great risk to our own reputation as well.”
Prince Mohammed said “no one is overestimating” the seriousness of the situation.