Brown 'did not discuss rights'

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Gordon Brown did not raise alleged human right abuses in Saudi Arabia during his talks this week with King Abdullah, the Saudi Foreign Minister confirmed yesterday.

"We haven't talked of human rights," Prince Saud al-Faisal told Sky News. "Human rights is the responsibility for the government of its own people, not of other governments. We are doing what our people expect us to do."

The Prime Minister's failure to raise the issue during the King's state visit was attacked by Labour MPs and a British engineer who claims he was tortured when he was held in a Saudi jail on fabricated terrorism charges.

Sandy Mitchell, 51, who was falsely accused of taking part in a bombing campaign, joined 200 protesters outside the Saudi embassy before the King's visit ended yesterday. He said of Mr Brown's behaviour: "It is a complete betrayal, given that Abdullah was running the country at the time we were imprisoned."

Last year, the law lords denied Mr Mitchell, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, and three other Britons tortured with him the right to sue over their ordeal. Their case was supported by Amnesty International and other human rights groups, but when the Saudi government claimed its officials had diplomatic immunity, the British Government agreed.

The men's campaign has been taken up by John McDonnell, chairman of the Campaign Group of leftwing Labour MPs. He said: "It is a disgrace that Gordon Brown invited this bruteto this country but it is unforgivable that he didn't have the guts to even raise the issue of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia."

A No 10 spokesman insisted human rights were discussed with the Saudis during the visit but admitted Mr Brown's talks with the King focused on education, the Middle East peace process and terrorism.

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