Liz Truss admits the UK has unlawfully sold arms to Saudi Arabia at least three times

Trade secretary Liz Truss
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

Trade secretary Liz Truss has admitted that the UK sold arms to Saudi Arabia unlawfully on at least three occasions. The sales are in violation of a court order banning arms trade with Saudi Arabia due to human rights concerns.

Lack of communication

Earlier in September, Truss confirmed that the government breached the court order ban on two separate occasions. Her recent admission confirms a third instance, and she’s suggested that other cases could still come to light. Responding to an urgent question in the House of Commons, Truss said:

We have identified one further licence that has been granted in breach of the undertaking.

Truss went on to offer “an unreserved apology” and placed the blame on a lack of internal communication between departments. She also claimed the license wasn’t used and “has now been revoked”.

The Ministry of Defence recommended that the license to which Truss referred receive approval, which was then signed off by the Department of International Trade (DIT). Following Truss’s remarks, DIT issued a statement which admits:

Given that RSLF [Royal Saudi Land Force] troops were being deployed in Yemen at the time… this licence should not have been granted.

Calls to resign

Truss’s latest admission met with criticism from the opposition. In response, Labour MP Keith Vaz said:

The apology is welcome but the narrative is shameful … Last week a bomb fell on a mosque and on a family eating their dinner. What do they put on the death certificates? Is it death by administrative error?

Meanwhile, SNP MP Chris Law demanded that Truss resign from her post, saying:

Does she take full responsibility for her department’s unlawful award of arms export licences in contravention of the court of appeal and therefore will she do the right thing and resign?

Law has also said:

The Tory government is either completely incompetent or it is deliberately breaking the law with impunity.

Nearly 100,000 people had reportedly been killed in the Saudi-led war in Yemen as of June this year. It’s been described by the United Nations as a “humanitarian crisis”.

Featured image via YouTube/ Sky News

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