Brown faces embarrassment ahead of Saudi visit

By staff writers
October 26, 2007

Gordon Brown is facing mounting criticism over next week's state visit to the UK by King Abdullah, the dictator of Saudi Arabia.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) yesterday repeated its call for the reopening of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Saudi regime's arms deals with BAE Systems.

Gordon Brown has also been reminded of his statement last month that "human rights are universal", in the context of the Saudi regime's frequent use of torture and violent suppression of political and religious dissent.

In his speech to the Labour Party Conference, Gordon Brown stated that "the message should go out to anyone facing persecution anywhere from Burma to Zimbabwe: human rights are universal and no injustice can last forever".

Abdullah will be met by a peaceful demonstration organised by CAAT when he arrives in the UK on the morning of Tuesday 30th October. His visit will last until Thursday 1st November.

He will stay at Buckingham Palace.

In December last year, the Government and the Serious Fraud Office announced that they were suspending an investigation into BAE Systems' arms deals with Saudi Arabia. CAAT and The Corner House, an environmental and social justice NGO, have lodged grounds for a judicial review of this decision. They will appear in court for permission to proceed with the judicial review on 9th November.

CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "It is not in the British public interest for our Government to be subservient to BAE and the Saudi regime. Gordon Brown has a chance to demonstrate his independence from them both by reopening the BAE-Saudi corruption inquiry. That would vastly improve the UK's international reputation."

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.

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