World leaders demand answers over ‘monstrous’ journalist killing

By Alan McGuinness, political reporter

There has been fresh condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the “horrific murder” of a dissident journalist, as the foreign secretary said Britain does not think the Gulf kingdom’s version of events is “credible”.

Jeremy Hunt vowed No 10 will “act accordingly” if the “appalling” stories about the death of Jamal Khashoggi turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, US president Donald Trump says he was “not satisfied” with what he has heard from Saudi Arabia and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the journalist’s death a “monstrosity”

She promised to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the case is “cleared up”.

Jamal Khashoggi and his 'body double'. Pic: CNN
Image:A Saudi 'body double' reportedly dressed in Mr Khashoggi's clothes after his death. Pic: CNN

Addressing MPs in the Commons, Mr Hunt said the British government condemned Mr Khashoggi’s death “in the strongest possible terms”.

He added: “Today the thoughts and prayers of the whole House are with his fiancee, his family and his friends, who were left to worry for more than two weeks, only to have their worst fears confirmed.”

Riyadh’s version of events “does not amount to a credible explanation”, he said, adding that “anyone found responsible for any offence must be held accountable”.

Turkish government sources have said the journalist was tortured and murdered by a Saudi “hit squad”, allegations initially dismissed by the kingdom, who said he died in a “fist fight”.

Al Madani was reportedly captured entering the consulate in different clothes. Pic: CNN
Image:The 'body double' was reportedly captured entering the consulate in different clothes. Pic: CNN

One of the “hit squad” said to be involved in his death apparently changed into the journalist’s clothes as part of a decoy attempt, according to CNN.

The US broadcaster said it had obtained footage which appears to show the man leaving the Istanbul consulate dressed in Mr Khashoggi’s clothes and wearing glasses and a fake beard.

In the wake of the death, there has been fresh scrutiny of Britain’s relationship with the Gulf kingdom – a key ally and trading partner – with Labour stepping up calls for a boycott in arms sales.

Mr Hunt said that although Britain had close security and business links with Saudi Arabia, these will not stop the government taking action over Mr Khashoggi’s death.

He told MPs: “We have an important strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia involving defence and security co-operation which has saved lives on the streets of Britain.

“We also have a trading partnership that supports thousands of jobs.

2:38

Video:World leaders question Saudi’s story

“So whilst we will be thoughtful and considered in our response, I have also been clear that if the appalling stories we are reading turn out to be true, they are fundamentally incompatible with our values and we will act accordingly.

“Indeed such reports are also incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s own stated goal of progress and renewal.

“That is why the extent to which Saudi Arabia is able to convince us that it remains committed to that progress will ultimately determine the response of the UK and its allies – and we will continue to convey our strength of feeling on this issue to every level of the Saudi leadership.”

2:55

Video:Strong denials from Riyadh over journalist’s death

Speaking before Mr Hunt in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the killing “in the strongest possible terms” and added “we must get to the truth of what happened”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said “condemnation is not enough”, asking: “Will they now end arms sales to Saudi Arabia?”

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said Britain should “refuse to turn a blind eye” to Mr Khashoggi’s death and put pressure on Riyadh to end the civil war in Yemen.