A US arms giant backed by the Scottish Government attended a business summit in Saudi Arabia last week despite an international boycott and ministers halting a business drive in Riyadh.
Executives from multinational Raytheon, which has a plant in Fife making laser guidance systems for so-called smart bombs, went to the business summit despite many other business leaders calling off after the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
There was global outrage after the Saudi regime were accused of sending a hit squad to Turkey, where Mr Khashoggi was tortured and murdered.
We told last week how the Scottish Government scrapped plans to recruit a Saudi trade specialist in the wake of the killing but Raytheon, which has been given financial support by Scottish ministers, attended the major event in Riyadh last week, called the Future Investment Initiative.
The company, which helps arm the Saudi regime, was at the three-day event last week where deals worth billions of pounds were sealed despite many staying away.
UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was absent and the Department for International Trade confirmed no UK officials would attend.
Sir Richard Branson has halted talks over a £756m Saudi investment in Virgin, but while some big names boycotted “Davos in the desert”, hundreds still attended – in some cases representing the very companies whose bosses decided not to attend.
Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy was due to speak at the event but, the company said, did not attend.
Raytheon has received tax payers’ money in the form of Scottish Enterprise grants and the firm has been allowed to draft lessons for Scottish pupils.
The firm, which employs 700 people in Fife and enjoys privileged access to both the Scottish and UK governments, established a new company in Saudi Arabia this year, signing a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on defence projects.
Scottish Greens international relations spokesperson Ross Greer MSP said: “It’s time for the Scottish Government to match rhetoric with action and stop handing public cash to Saudi’s compliant arms dealer.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The public are rightly disgusted at Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Khashoggi murder. Raytheon should consider these concerns and make clear whether they intend to carry on engaging with Saudi Arabia in the future.”
Raytheon’s smart bombs made in Scotland have been linked to alleged war crimes by the Saudis, who are part of an Arab coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen.
UK Government statistics show that since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion-worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.
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