UK in trade visit to Saudi days after journalist murder
Ministers accused of ‘hypocrisy’
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