Vince Cable blocks sale of military and intelligence equipment to Egypt as protest death toll mounts

Five export licences suspended over fears weapons are being used for internal suppression against its people

Five arms export licences to Egypt have been revoked by Britain following continuing violent clashes in the country involving the military in which dozens have been killed.

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the move after consultations with the Foreign Office and a review of the licences following the violence which erupted after the deposing of the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, by the army.

Earlier this week a highly critical report by the Committee on Arms Export Controls revealed details of military and intelligence equipment being sent under licences granted by the UK government to countries with a record of human-rights abuse.

The Committee’s chairman, Sir John Stanley, had written to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, asking if he was satisfied that the licences did not contravene the Government’s policy on not allowing arms exports which might be used for internal repression.

The Department for Business, Skills and Innovation said that the equipment covered by the five licences had all been destined for the army or the police. It included components for armoured personnel carriers, radio communications equipment, machine gun components, components for tracked armoured fighting infantry vehicles, and communications equipment for tanks.

There were 134 licences for strategically controlled items to Egypt worth more than £59m. Following yesterday’s suspensions, licences still remain valid for assault rifles, pistols, cryptographic equipment and command communications control and intelligence software.

Mr Cable said yesterday: “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Egypt and the events which have led to the deaths of protesters.

“All licences for exports of controlled goods to Egypt  have been assessed on a case-by-case basis against a range of internationally agreed, stringent criteria which take into account the circumstances at the time the licence application was made.

“However, as a result of the changing situation in Egypt, we have conducted a review of UK export licences to this country.”

Still, the bulk of the weapons delivered to the Egyptian military comes from the US, and that has continued with Barack Obama avoiding calling the overthrow of Mr Morsi a coup– the act by the military which would force the President to turn off supplies.

Although the British Government has remained overtly neutral in the current Egyptian crisis, the view among senior diplomats is that the army was forced to act because Mr Morsi was riding roughshod over the opposition in implementing an Islamist agenda, and his handling of the economy had brought it close to collapse.

Kaye Stearman, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, welcomed the revoking of the licences, but added: “We need to know why the other licences for military equipment still remain in use. Britain has not got a huge market in Egypt, so the export imperative can’t be too great.

“We believe every licence should be scrutinised and the delivery of arms halted while the unrest continues.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones