In Brief

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ruled lawful

High Court judges rule against bid to block export of British-made weapons

Britain's sale of billions of pounds in weapons to Saudi Arabia is lawful, the High Court ruled today, following a review of evidence deemed "secret" to protect national security.

Judges said the "closed material", which was withheld from public scrutiny, "provides valuable additional support for the conclusion that the decisions taken by the secretary of state not to suspend or cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia were rational", the BBC reports.

They described their job as "not to look at the exports themselves, but to simply look at the decision-making process", said Paul Brennan of Al Jazeera.

A spokesman for No 10 welcomed today's ruling, saying it "underscores the fact that the UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes" in the world.

However, activists from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), which had brought the case in an attempt to block export licences for British-made bombs, fighter jets and other arms, said the judgment was "very disappointing" and vowed to appeal.

They argue the weapons were being used by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen in breach of international humanitarian law.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry also criticised the ruling, saying it was a "frustrating setback".

But, she added: "It will not for one second stop us fighting for justice on behalf of the thousands of civilians killed by Saudi air-strikes."

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