The British MPs who accepted lavish freebie trips to Saudi Arabia

The British MPs who accepted lavish freebie trips to Saudi Arabia
Saudi spending on lavish trips and gifts for British MPs increased markedly since 2015, according to latest disclosures from UK parliament.
3 min read
01 Nov, 2018
British MP Leo Docherty was among those who visited Saudi Arabia since March 2015 [Twitter]

Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was slammed on Thursday following disclosures that he flew to Jeddah in a £14,000 trip paid for by the Saudi government just days before the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Conservative MP was one of dozens of British politicians found accepting hospitality trips to the kingdom, which together cost the Saudi regime over £208,000, according to reports in the media. 

The reports emerged following the latest disclosure of the UK Parliament's Register of Member's Interests, highlighting an increased effort by Saudi authorities to spend money on British MPs by flying them out to their country. 

Former ministers and close aides to British Prime Minister Theresa May were among the MPs who accepted Saudi-funded trips,which often included business class flights, luxury hotel stays and lavish hospitality arrangements, according to Britain's Channel 4.

The redoubled efforts by Saudi authorities to increase hospitality trips for British MPs have once again raised questions over the deep relationship between the British government and a regime widely criticised forhuman rights violations.

Ahead of the violent execution of Khashoggi – with fingers pointing at Riyadh - the Saudi regime has faced fierce criticism over silencing dissidents, persecuting political opponents and holding public executions.

In March 2015, under the de facto rule of the now Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi regime led a military campaign against rebels in Yemen - the Arab world's poorest country. The ongoing war there has killed nearly 50,000 people and put the country on the brink of famine.

The UK, which sees Saudi Arabia as an important strategic ally and economic partner, continues to back arms sales to Riyadh. British politicians have backed the licensing of £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war on Yemen began.

Since March 2015, at least 33 MPs have accepted Saudi-funded trips to the kingdom.

These, listed below, include 28 Conservative MPs and five Labour MPs. On most occasions, all the expenses were covered by Riyadh.

1. Edward Argar (Conservative)
2. Richard Bacon (Conservative)
3. Alex Burghart (Conservative)
4. Rehman Chishti (Conservative)
5. James Cleverly (Conservative)
6. Leo Docherty (Conservative)
7. Sir Alan Duncan (Conservative)
8. Mike Gapes (Labour)
9. Mark Garnier (Conservative)
10. Sir Edward Garnier (Conservative)
11. James Heappey (Conservative)
12. Simon Hoare (Conservative)
13. Philip Hollobone (Conservative)
14. Kevan Jones (Labour)
15. David Jones (Conservative)
16. Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative)
17. Seema Kennedy (Conservative)
18. Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative)
19. Charlotte Leslie (Conservative)
20. David Mackintosh (Conservative)
21. Mark Menzies (Conservative)
22. Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative)
23. Andrew Mitchell (Conservative)
24. Mark Pawsey (Conservative)
25. Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
26. Keith Simpson (Conservative)
27. Royston Smith (Conservative)
28. John Spellar (Labour)
29. Andrew Stephenson (Conservative)
30. Martin Vickers (Conservative)
31. Helen Whately (Conservative)
32. Dr Paul Williams (Labour)
33. John Woodcock (Labour, but has since left the party and is now an Independent MP)