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Government questioned over why UK arms licences granted for snipers & gas grenades to Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Senior Cabinet ministers accused of 'profoundly misleading' claims about Britain’s arms export industry



Senior Cabinet ministers have been accused of making “profoundly misleading” claims about Britain’s lucrative arms export industry by stating there is no evidence that shipments to hardline regimes are not used for “internal repression”.

MPs have demanded an explanation from the Government as to why export licences were granted earlier this year for goods ranging from sniper rifles to CS gas grenades to be sent to countries with questionable human rights records such as Saudi Arabia and Libya.

The Commons committee dealing with arms exports has listed 18 nations which are currently the subject of embargos or considered a “Country of Concern” for human rights  were cleared to receive military or law enforcement equipment worth nearly £80m in the first three months of 2013.

Among the approvals being investigated by the MPs is the granting of licences worth nearly £6m for items including “acoustic devices for riot control”, thunderflashes and armoured vehicles to be sent to Kenya around the time of the country’s presidential election. The previous election in 2008 sparked a crack down by security forces and violence which claimed 1,500 lives.

In a hard-hitting attack on the Government’s track record in scrutinising exports of military or sensitive “dual use” material, Sir John Stanley, chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), has written to four senior ministers - Foreign Secretary William Hague, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and International Development Secretary Justine Greening - accusing them of being unable to justify assurances that British exports are not used to abuse human rights.

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