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Ethics adviser urged to open probe into Lord Cameron over Israeli arms advice

05 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Lord David Cameron – Image: Jeff Moore

The UK Government’s ethics adviser is facing calls to investigate whether Lord David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch could be in breach of the ministerial code over continued UK arms sales to Israel.

Ministers have faced increasing calls to halt arms sales to Israel after three British aid workers were killed in an attack by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Monday evening.

MPs across the political spectrum have urged Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron to reveal whether he has received legal advice on continuing arms export licences to Israel, and publish it if he has.

A letter calling for the UK to suspend arms sales to Israel has meanwhile been signed by more than 600 lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices.

Ministerial code

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson, has now written to independent ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus, calling for an investigation into whether the two senior Cabinet ministers may have breached the ministerial code by not publishing the advice if they have received it.

The code, which sets out the standards expected of Government figures, says ministers have an “overarching duty” to comply with the law.

In her letter to the ethics adviser, Ms Moran says both Lord Cameron and Ms Badenoch have obligations “to prevent the exports of arms to Israel” if legal advice they have received shows Israel is not compliant with international law.

“If the Government’s legal advice is that Israel is not compliant with international humanitarian law, but ministers are continuing to authorise arms exports, it raises a question about whether this would make the UK Government complicit in such breaches of international law – and accordingly whether Ministers responsible would have breached section 1.3 of the code,” the letter says.

Ms Moran’s letter follows similar concerns by MPs from different parties.

Conservative chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns has said she was convinced the Government had concluded that Israel was not demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, but has refused to confirm that publicly.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, has urged ministers to publish advice they may have received and suspend arms sales if there is a risk weapons could be used in “a serious breach of international humanitarian law”.

Legal advice

Lib Dem MP Ms Moran said: “If the UK Government has received legal advice that Israel’s actions are not compliant with international humanitarian law, then Conservative ministers risk being in breach of the ministerial code by failing to halt UK arms exports to Israel.

“The thought that UK-made arms could have been used in strikes like the one that killed aid workers earlier this week is unconscionable.

“David Cameron must listen to the growing calls from legal experts and MPs from across the political spectrum, and halt UK arms sales to Israel. The UK must not be complicit in breaches of international humanitarian law.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Cameron and Badenough in breach of ministerial rules re Israel, that’s just their usual schtick same as moonlighting Patel and Braverman. They need their own Panorama expose…

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