export-controls 19 September 2019

UK government apologises for post-judgment exports to Saudi

In a letter to Graham Jones MP, Chair of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, has written to inform the committees of ‘two inadvertent breaches’ of the UK government’s undertaking, made on 20 June 2019, that it would not ‘grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.’

Truss wrote: ‘The potential for there to have been a breach of the undertaking was first identified on 9 September during a routine analysis by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (“FCO”) of the quarterly licensing statistics produced by the Department for International Trade (“DIT”)’.

She added: ‘The Permanent Secretary of DIT has asked, on behalf of the Secretary of State, for a full investigation to be conducted to: (i) establish the precise circumstances in which these licences were granted; (ii) establish whether any other licences have been granted in breach of the undertaking to the Court or the commitment to Parliament; and (iii) confirm that procedures are in place to ensure that no further such breaches can occur. During the course of this investigation, all decisions made on licences for the export of military goods to [Saudi Arabia] and its Coalition partners will be subject to additional compliance processes to ensure that no further licences are issued in error for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.’

The full details of the circumstances and the licences are contained in the letter which can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831880/CAEC_Letter_16092019_1550_Formatted_-_GS.pdf