Boris Johnson slammed over expenses-paid £14k Saudi Arabia trip
Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accepted £14K worth of hospitality from the brutal Saudi regime, it emerged on Wednesday.
Johnson went on an all-expenses paid three-day trip to Jeddah on 19 September - days before the violent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Conservative MP allegedly met with a number of Saudi officials to "promote education for women and girls," according to an entry he was obliged to submit to the House of Commons, in line with parliament's transparency rules.
His visit was slammed by campaigners and human rights activists, who have warned against accepting money from oppressive regimes.
"Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen," Andrew Smith, media coordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade said.
"The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education," Smith said, "It is doing it because it knows that he's got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence."
Amnesty International also criticised Johnson's visit, highlighting that the regime continues to deny Saudi women basic rights.
"Mr Johnson's support for women and girls' education in the Middle East is welcome, but he and others must speak out publicly about how Saudi Arabia systematically denies women their basic human rights," Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK's Director, said.
"Mr Johnson has lavished praise on the Saudi Crown Prince as a supposed reformer, which is a total misjudgement. "
Johnson has supported billions of pounds worth of arm sales to the Saudi military, used primarily in the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Rights groups estimate that nearly 50,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allied launched an air campaign on the neighbouring country.
Saudi Arabia has also faced global criticism over the violent murder of Khashoggi, who was last seen after entering its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
Turkey claims the well-known government critic was killed violently killed by a 15-man hit squad under orders from Riyadh.
Johnson is not the first British politician to cosy up to the Saudis. Recent reports revealed that some 50 British MPs have enjoyed a luxury freebie trip to the kingdom since 2010, costing Riyadh over £320,000.