UK in trade visit to Saudi days af­ter jour­nal­ist mur­der

Min­is­ters ac­cused of ‘hypocrisy’

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY MIKEY SMITH and OLIVER MILNE [email protected]­ @Dai­lymir­ror

OF­FI­CIALS flew to Saudi Ara­bia dur­ing an in­vest­ment con­fer­ence just days af­ter the grue­some mur­der of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi.

Se­nior of­fi­cials from the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Trade, in­clud­ing Her Majesty’s Trade Com­mis­sioner, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the For­eign Of­fice held meet­ings with busi­ness­men dur­ing the three-day con­fer­ence in Riyadh.

Theresa May had in­sisted no rep­re­sen­ta­tives or min­is­ters would at­tend and the Gov­ern­ment sought to dis­tance it­self from the event.

Labour said the rev­e­la­tion was “dis­grace­ful”.

The Mir­ror has learned of­fi­cials from the DIT and from the For­eign Of­fice did travel to the oil-rich state.

Along with other UK of­fi­cials al­ready based in Saudi Ara­bia, they held meet­ings at ho­tels close to the three-day Fu­ture In­vest­ment Ini­tia­tive con­fer­ence, which saw £40bil­lion worth of in­ter­na­tional deals signed with Saudi Ara­bia.

The of­fi­cials in­cluded Si­mon Pen­ney, who Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox had ap­pointed as Trade Com­mis­sioner for the Mid­dle East in May.

While no Bri­tish rep­re­sen­ta­tives went into the con­fer­ence it­self, the Mir­ror un­der­stands of­fi­cials were on “the fringes”, hold­ing meet­ings at nearby restau­rants and ho­tels.

They met with busi­ness­men from across the Mid­dle East and from the UK.

Shadow For­eign Sec­re­tary Emily Thorn­berry said: “This is typ­i­cal of the Gov­ern­ment’s hypocrisy over the Khashoggi mur­der...

She said it wasn’t just the “dis­grace­ful and se­cret” meet­ings held by of­fi­cials, adding: “It is also the fact all their loudly ex­pressed de­ter­mi­na­tion to find out who or­dered this killing goes out of the win­dow the more the ev­i­dence points to Crown Prince Bin Sal­man.”

A Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “No UK of­fi­cial at­tended the FII con­fer­ence.”

The sum­mit came at the height of up­roar over Saudi critic Mr Khashoggi’s death and dis­mem­ber­ment, ap­par­ently at the hands of Saudi gov­ern­ment agents in their con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Tur­key.

This is just typ­i­cal of the Gov­ern­ment’s hypocrisy over the Khashoggi mur­der EMILY THORN­BERRY LABOUR SHADOW FOR­EIGN SEC­RE­TARY

JOB Liam Fox ap­pointed Si­mon Pen­ney Trade Com­mis­sioner for the Mid­dle East in May

KILLED Ja­mal Khashoggi

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