Theresa May denies suppressing report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of UK Islamist extremism to protect arms deals

‘Is it because ministers care rather more about arms sales to Riyadh than they do about public safety in Britain?’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 19 July 2017 15:20
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May denies supressing report into Saudi Arabia's funding of extremism to protect arms deals

Theresa May has denied suppressing a report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of Islamist extremism in Britain to protect lucrative arms sales to the country.

The Prime Minister was also accused of burying the results of the investigation because publication would “embarrass the Government’s friends in Saudi Arabia”.

“Or is it because ministers care rather more about arms sales to Riyadh than they do about public safety in Britain?” asked Caroline Lucas the Green MP.

But Ms May, speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, replied: “It is absolutely nothing to do with that.”

She added: “There is certain confidential information in the report which means it would not be appropriate to publish it.”

The Opposition parties had been allowed to see the report through the Privy Council, the Prime Minister said – something Labour was unable to confirm immediately.

It was the first time Ms May had spoken about the controversy since the Home Secretary sparked criticism by insisting the report would be kept under wraps

It was commissioned by the Coalition government, after Liberal Democrat pressure, but must be held back on “national security” grounds, Amber Rudd said.

An exclusive poll for The Independent revealed that most people want to see the facts about foreign funding of Islamist extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with Saudi Arabia.

It found that 64 per cent of the public wants the report to be made “publicly available in full”, with only 11 per cent backing its suppression.

The same survey found Britain must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia while the country is accused of the large-scale slaughter of civilians in Yemen’s civil war.

The results laid bare the public’s deep unease about Britain’s close relationship with an autocracy embroiled in a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen.

In the Commons, Ms Lucas also pointed to The Independent’s overnight revelation that survivors of the 9/11 attacks have written to Ms May calling for the report’s release.

She said it showed that the Government was refusing to budge “despite pressure from all sides of the House and beyond”

“With survivors of 9/11 last night also urging her to make this report available, will she explain if her refusal is simply because the contents of the report would embarrass the Government’s friends in Saudi Arabia?” she asked.

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