MPs call on Government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Updated: 

Britain must suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia as it appears the country is committing war crimes in Yemen and it "seems inevitable" that they involve UK weapons, a group of MPs has apparently said in a leaked draft report.

According to BBC Two's Newsnight, the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls said in a draft report: "The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is now so great that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia while maintaining the credibility of our arms licensing regime."

The Government has faced sustained pressure to suspend the sale of weapons to the country amid claims that international humanitarian law (IHL) has been breached in fighting between the Yemeni government, backed by Saudi Arabia, and Shiite Yemeni rebels.

According to Newsnight, the committee said in its draft report: "The weight of evidence is now so great that the UK should suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen until an independent and international inquiry can establish the truth."

The programme quoted the draft report as saying it "seems inevitable that any violations of international law by the Saudi-led coalition would involve arms supplied by the UK".

It adds, according to the programme: "While doubt and uncertainty about IHL compliance in Yemen exists, the default position of the UK should not to be to continue to sell weapons."

The claims come after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday defended the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia for potential use in Yemen's bloody civil war, insisting the export of weapons to the country would continue.

The Foreign Secretary said the Government found there was not a "clear risk" that weapons were being used to violate IHL.

His comments followed the Government's admission that it wrongly published statements assuring the Commons that IHL assessments regarding Saudi Arabia had been passed when they had not been carried out.

The Government said the original statements resulted from error and were not a deliberate attempt to mislead Parliament