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UK seeking to overturn court ruling banning arms sale to Saudi Arabia

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) welcomes The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud (R) on the steps of No.10 Downing Street, ahead of their meeting, during his official visit in London, United Kingdom on 7 March 2018 [Kate Green/Anadolu Agency]
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) welcomes The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud (R) on the steps of No.10 Downing Street, ahead of their meeting, during his official visit in London, United Kingdom on 7 March 2018 [Kate Green/Anadolu Agency]

The British government has been accused of prioritising military exports over civilian lives, after minsters requested courts to set aside a landmark legal ruling which concluded that UK arms exports to Saudi is unlawful.

According to the group leading the charge against UK arms sale to Saudi Arabia; the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the challenge to last month’s judgement was made through an application for a stay, which is a legal process that seeks to halt any further legal proceeding related to the case.

Following June’s Court of Appeals judgement overturning a 2017 High Court ruling authorising the UK to continue licensing the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, it was expected that arms sales would be halted after the ruling pending a review. Conservative MP Liam Fox told MPs that the government would “not grant any new licences for export to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners which might be used in the conflict in Yemen”.

UK: Corbyn calls for end to arms export to Saudi Arabia

The assurance given by Fox is being contradicted by Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). The media coordinator for the group said that he believed a stay could be used to allow sales to continue. “The court found that the government acted irrationally and unlawfully in allowing these arms sales. If a stay is granted then it will result in more unlawful arms sales and more atrocities.”

The Department for International Trade, while stating that it was not going to grant any new export licences to Saudi Arabia admitted that it was seeking to overturn the ruling saying “we disagree with the judgement and will be seeking permission to appeal.”

Responding to the government’s attempt to overturn the court ruling, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This makes a mockery of their own commitment to halt all new sales while a review takes place into civilian casualties. Nothing could be clearer: the government’s priority is to sell arms, not to protect the rights and lives of Yemeni people.”

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