The UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has pulled out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week.
Fox joins a long list of business heads and politicians, including the Dutch and French finance ministers, to boycott the event known as “Davos in the Desert” as more incriminating evidence of the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi emerges.
A spokesman for Fox said “the time is not right for him to attend” the conference in Riyadh.
“The UK remains very concerned about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance… those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.”
Despite Riyadh’s staunch denial, the Turkish officials have claimed that they have video and voice recordings of the killing of Khashoggi within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The journalist was last seen entering the consulate two weeks ago after which he is believed to have been murdered by 15 Saudi agents in an operation that is said to be ordered by the highest officials in Riyadh.
A number of assailants involved in the alleged killing have been identified by US agents as members of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s security staff.
It’s unclear if the decision by Fox will have any implications for British weapons manufacturer BAE Systems. The largest British defence contractor still plans to send senior executives to Riyadh next week. BAE is one of the UK’s biggest trading partners with Saudi supplying the kingdom with a range of aircraft, including the Typhoon fighter jet and the Hawk trainer.