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Ethics probe urged over UK arms sales to Israel

CALLS are mounting for an ethics probe into the actions of Lord David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch regarding ongoing UK arms sales to Israel. This follows heightened scrutiny after the tragic deaths of three British aid workers in an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) attack.

Amidst bipartisan pressure, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron faces demands to disclose any legal counsel received regarding the continuation of arms export licences to Israel. Over 600 legal professionals, including former Supreme Court justices, have signed a letter urging the suspension of arms sales to Israel.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson, has formally requested an investigation by independent ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus. Moran questions whether Cameron and Badenoch violated the ministerial code by withholding legal advice on Israel’s compliance with international law.

The ministerial code mandates that government officials must adhere to legal standards, with an overarching duty to uphold the law. Moran highlights that if legal advice indicates Israel’s non-compliance with international humanitarian law, failure to suspend arms exports could implicate the UK government in such breaches.

Similar concerns have been voiced across party lines. Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Alicia Kearns hints at government acknowledgment of Israel’s disregard for international humanitarian law but refuses to confirm publicly. Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy echoes the call for transparency, urging ministers to publish any received advice and halt arms sales if there’s a risk of involvement in serious breaches of international law.

Moran stresses the urgency of the situation, asserting that if the UK government possesses legal advice indicating Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, Conservative ministers risk breaching the code by not halting arms exports. She condemns the prospect of UK-made arms being implicated in attacks like the one resulting in the recent deaths of aid workers and calls for an immediate cessation of arms sales to Israel to avoid complicity in such violations.