UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia not unlawful

UK government arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful, the High Court has ruled.

The court rejected claims that ministers were committing an offence by not suspending weapon sales to the kingdom, which is fighting a war in Yemen.

The UN claims strikes on Houthi rebels caused thousands of civilian deaths.

The government said defence exports would continue to be reviewed but the campaign against the arms trade said an appeal against the ruling was planned. The group claimed the UK had contravened humanitarian law. They attacked the Secretary of State for International Trade to suspend export licenses for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment.

Lord Justice Burnett and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the decision to carry on the arms trade was not unlawful.

Equipment sold includes Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets, as well as precision-guided bombs. The sales have provided billions of pounds of revenue for the British arms trade and has created thousands of engineering job opportunities in the UK.

The judges said confidential material ‘provides valuable additional support for the conclusion that the decisions taken by the secretary of state not to suspend or cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia were rational’.

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