May sits on report into Saudi funds

British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in the capital Riyadh on April 5.
British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in the capital Riyadh on April 5. SAUDI PRESS AGENCY HANDOUT

BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of burying a report about Saudi Arabian funding of Islamist extremism in the UK for fear it may damage relations with their ally.

The report commissioned by PM David Cameron in January last year is believed to have been in Ms May's hands for at least six months.

The study began while Ms May was Home Secretary and was designed to examine the origins and scale of funding of terror groups in the UK and to follow international funding streams.

It is believed the report was part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats to gain support for British airstrikes against Syria in December 2015.

In response to a parliamentary question from Green MP Caroline Lucas, Ms May said: "The review into the funding of Islamist extremism has improved the government's understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK.

"Ministers are considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course.”

Last month, a Home Office spokesman admitted to The Guardian the report might never be published because its contents were "very sensitive”.

Since coming to power a year ago, Ms May has courted the conservative kingdom - one of the main buyers of UK-made arms.

Earlier this year the government approved $5.9billion of arms export licences to the Gulf state, and several ministers have visited Saudi Arabia over the past year to cultivate trading relationships as the UK looks for post- Brexit trading partners.

Ms Lucas called the delay "astonishing”, telling The Guardian: "To defeat terror it's vital that politicians have full view of the facts, even if they are inconvenient.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has castigated the government for not addressing Saudi Arabia when talking about the need to tackle Islamist extremism.

During the election he said the "difficult conversations” Ms May wanted to have about extremism needed to start with "Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states”.

Topics:  britain saudi arabia theresa may

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