Senior Tory ministers have accepted luxury food hampers as gifts from Saudi Arabia in spite of criticism of the kingdom for its human rights’ record and causing a famine by bombing civilians in neighboring Yemen.
The Saudi government has given Conservative ministers 20 luxury food hampers at a cost of about £200 each since the party came to power in 2010, according to official government records analyzed by The Independent.
Campaigners said the hampers were a “garish sign of friendship” between the autocracy and Whitehall.
“The Saudi dictatorship has one of the worst human rights records in the world – it executes its critics and treats women appallingly. Its bombing campaign in Yemen has killed thousands and pushed millions to the edge of starvation,” Joe Lo of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told The Independent.
“This garish sign of friendship is all too typical of the close-knit relationship between Whitehall and the Saudi regime. The UK Government should be using its influence to stand up for those suffering in Yemen, not accepting luxury hampers from those that are bombing them.”
The campaigners assert that the irony of food hampers is that they were given at the time when millions starved due to Saudi continuous bombing on Yemen.
The analysis shows Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Minister for International Trade Greg Hands and MP Tobias Ellwood have all accepted hampers since the start of the Saudi aggression on Yemen in April 2015, while other ministers accepted them before.
The foreign secretary was also given a “solid metal/silver horse ornament” in September 2016 by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
The UK government has already been under immense pressure by human rights groups over its arms shipments to the Saudis.
The UK government has sold over £3.3 billion worth of arms – including fighter jets, bombs and missiles – to the Saudi regime since it attacked Yemen in March 2015.
The war has killed at least 11,400 people in Yemen, according to local sources.