UK withdraws Saudi prison bid

14 October 2015

Training contract bid is worth $9m

  • Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights records underpin domestic opposition on prisons project
  • Bid was submitted by erstwhile UK Ministry of Justice commercial arm
  • Security cooperation efforts with Saudi Arabia not in question

The UK government has withdrawn its bid to provide training needs analysis for prison staff in Saudi Arabia.

While the value of the bid is small, at £5.9m ($9m), compared with many other trade transactions conducted between the two countries, the nature of the proposed work has been highly controversial.

The decision to withdraw the bid followed strong domestic opposition based on Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights records.

The withdrawal from the deal, however, is not tantamount to withdrawing from necessary security cooperation with Saudi Arabia, according to UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove.

“We should continue with necessary security cooperation with Saudi Arabia and with other governments,” Gove was quoted as saying.

The prisons bid was understood to have been submitted by the ertswhile Just Solutions international, a commercial arm of the Justice Ministry established by Gove’s predecessor, Chris Grayling.

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