This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
by our parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt
BORIS JOHNSON was “very casual and jokey” during discussions about arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a former Foreign Office lawyer revealed today.
Molly Mulready, who worked at the department between 2014 and 2019, told investigative journalism website Declassified UK that the then foreign secretary “would joke around and waste everybody’s time” when the issue was considered.
Up to 8,750 civilians are estimated to have been killed by Saudi air strikes in neighbouring Yemen since the kingdom and its allies began to target Houthi rebels there in 2015 as part of a proxy war with regional rival Iran.
About 130,000 people have thought to have died so far in the conflict, which, according to the United Nations, has caused the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with 20 million suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Ms Mulready was responsible for giving legal advice to ministers on arms exports to the Middle East.
Mr Johnson, who became Prime Minister in July 2019, was foreign secretary under Theresa May between 2016 and 2018 before he resigned in protest against her Brexit deal.
Ms Mulready said: “We would go in to brief [Mr Johnson] about Yemen and he would joke around and waste everybody’s time and it was a bit mind blowing because you’re discussing civilian casualties, you’re discussing the fact that innocent people have died and that British-supplied bombs have played a part in that.”
When Campaign Against Arms Trade took legal action against the government over weapons sales to the Saudis in 2017, Ms Mulready was tasked with defending ministers — a role she is now “ashamed” to have taken on.
“There have been tens of thousands of civilians killed in the bombing and there are millions of people who are food insecure. There are children in Yemen who are starving to death,” she said.
“The Saudis seem to have absolutely no compassion whatsoever.”
Britain temporarily halted arms sales to Riyadh that could be used in Yemen in 2019 after the Court of Appeal concluded that ministers had not properly assessed the risk of civilian casualties from indiscriminate air strikes, but sales resumed in the summer of last year.
Ms Mulready said that she believed the ongoing trade to violate the government’s own licencing laws and contributed to Saudi war crimes.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.