Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

Barry calls for answers over Export Licencing Judgment

Yesterday, Barry called for answers from the government over the High Court's Export licencing judgment.

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The judicial review case, brought by the organisation 'Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) was launched over the government's decision to continue granting weapons-export licences to Saudi Arabia despite concerns over the death toll of the Saudi Government's bombing campaign in Yemen.

Responding to the statement given by the Secretary of State for International Trade in the House of Commons, Barry said:

"Does the Secretary of State agree that today’s judgment did not seek to rule on whether the Government were correct in concluding that there was no clear risk of a serious breach of international humanitarian law, but rather on whether, in so concluding, they had reached a decision that could be considered rational, given the procedures they had adopted and the evidence they had considered? Does he further accept that if those procedures themselves were defective, or the evidence the Government considered was insufficient, misleading or even simply not comprehensive, it follows that the decision, however rational within its own parameters, could be deeply flawed, and this country might be at grave risk of violating our obligations in international humanitarian law?

"The Government relied on material they brought forward only in closed hearing. That evidence could not be seen or heard by the claimant—the Campaign Against ​Arms Trade—or its lawyers, Leigh Day. As such, the court ruling that the Government’s decision was a rational one, given the procedures and evidence they considered, was based on secret evidence, which it was impossible to challenge. Does the Secretary of State accept that the court judgment makes specific reference to the substantial body of evidence presented in open session, which in fact suggests that a clear risk does exist that British arms might be used in violation of international humanitarian law? Will he agree to make the evidence that was available only in closed session available to Members of this House on Privy Council terms or, indeed, to the Intelligence and Security Committee?

"Does the Secretary of State agree that we would all wish this country not only to adopt the highest ethical standards and controls but to be seen to adopt them, and that it would be helpful if he could now give his assurance to the House that it is his considered view that not only were the Government rational in adopting the view they did, given the procedures they followed and the evidence they considered, but that there is, to his certain knowledge, no risk whatever that UK arms might be used by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war in any way that might constitute a violation of our obligations in international humanitarian law?"

If you'd like to know more about this, you can read Barry's contribution here or watch it here.

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