Hope for Briton facing 350 lashes in Saudi as David Cameron cancels prison contract
Family of the 74-year-old fear the punishment could kill him as it emerges David Cameron is cancelling a lucrative prisons contract with Saudi Arabia
Britain’s relations with Saudi Arabia risk becoming strained after David Cameron cancelled a multi-million pound prisons contract and wrote to the country’s Government to protest about plans to flog a British pensioner who was caught making home made wine.
Number 10 announced today that the Government will not be proceeding with a bid to sell the Ministry of Justice’s expertise to the prison service in Saudi Arabia.
Senior Conservative MPs lined up to condemn the decision, which they said jeopardised Britain’s relations with the Saudi Kingdom. Dan Kawczynski, chairman of the all-party Saudi group, said he was concerned.
A commercial arm of the justice ministry, Just Solutions international, bid for a £5.9million contract in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This bid to provide additional training to Saudi Arabia has been reviewed, and the Government has decided it won’t be proceeding with the bid.”
She added that the decision was based on an examination of the “priorities” for the Ministry of Justice and a decision to “focus on some of the domestic priorities we want to do in terms of reforms here”.
There will be no financial penalty. She added: “Having looked at it further again, we have established that we can withdraw at this stage, there will be no financial penalty and consequently that decision has been taken.”
Number 10 stressed it was “a decision that has been agreed and taken across Government”.
There had been reports that Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, had fought Mr Gove over the decision to cancel the deal.
Mr Andree, originally from south London, was arrested in August last year when police found bottles of wine in his car.
He has already served 12 months in Jeddah’s brutal Briman Prison, which has a reputation for torture and inhuman conditions.
Simon Andree, Karl Andree’s son, welcomed David Cameron’s intervention, saying: “I am pleased. It has taken an awful long time.”
It earlier appeared that the Foreign Office had received assurances that the flogging will not be carried out, according to Sky News.
The BBC’s security editor Frank Gardner also reportedly received briefings from Saudi officials assuring him “there was never any question” of Mr Andree being flogged. It was suggested to him that bureaucratic hold-ups were the reason for the delay to Mr Andree’s release.
But David Cameron’s robust diplomatic intervention threw those claims into doubt.
Mr Andree, who worked as an oil executive in the country, had been facing a public flogging of 350 lashes – a punishment his family fear could kill him as he is still weak from battles with cancer.
His three children Hugh, 46, Kirsten, 45, and Simon, 33, had urged David Cameron to intervene before authorities carried out the sentence.
Their appeal was particularly urgent as Mr Andree’s wife, Verity, has Alzheimer’s and is dying, according to the family.
“Our father has given 25 years of his working life to Saudi Arabia, and this is how he is treated. Until his arrest, he has always been happy working there and felt safe,” Simon Andree told The Sun.
“He is 74 years of age, has had cancer three times and his wife is dying in a home in the UK.
“He now needs medical care for his cancer and Asthma, and there is no doubt in our mind that 350 lashes will kill him.”
Mr Andree’s daughter, Kirsten Piroth, said: “My dad broke the rules in a country that does not allow alcohol but he has now served his time. He was sentenced to 12 months, 14 months ago.”
A Foreign Office spokesman told The Telegraph: “Our embassy staff are continuing to assist Mr Andree, including regular visits to check on his welfare, and frequent contact with his lawyer and family.
“Ministers and senior officials have raised Mr Andree’s case with the Saudi Government and we are actively seeking his release as soon as possible.”
There is a strict alcohol ban in the conservative Islamic kingdom, that still widely practices capital punishment.
Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger was sentenced to 1,000 lashes after being convicted of insulting Islam, – and a prison sentence of 10 years.
The case attracted worldwide condemnation when he was publicly flogged in January.
Earlier this year, a report revealed Saudi Arabia is carrying out executions at a rate of one person every two days.
At least 102 people were executed in the first six months of this year compared to 90 in in the whole of 2014, said Amnesty International on Tuesday.
Most executions in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading, or in some cases by firing squad. Child offenders and mentally ill prisoners are among those who have been killed.
The group said the death penalty was being disproportionately used against foreign nationals, many of them
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