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Police arrest 12 people involved in Israel arms embargo protest at Labour HQ | Politics News

Twelve people have been arrested in connection with a demonstration that saw the Labour Party’s headquarters daubed in red paint.

Activists from the Youth Demand Group targeted the Opposition’s headquarters in central London today as it called for an arms embargo on Israel.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers have been deployed in central London to a demonstration with ‘Youth Demand’ today.

“The demonstration started in Embankment and moved to Piccadilly Circus and Parliament Square with no road closures and no arrests.

“At 14:18hrs, police were called to an incident of criminal damage in Rushworth Street, SE1, following reports of protesters spraying paint inside and outside of a business property. Officers were on scene within two minutes and have arrested twelve people on suspicion of criminal damage.”

The protest comes as the government comes under pressure to publish legal advice it has received over whether Israel has breached international law in Gaza after seven aid workers, including three British volunteers, were killed in an airstrike last week – something Israel has said was a “grave mistake”.

Israel has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October – including more than 15,000 children – according to health ministry figures in the Hamas-run territory.

Politics latest: Reform ‘will be major force’ after election

The government does not directly supply Israel with weapons but does grant export licences for British companies to sell arms to the country.

Labour has said arms exports to Israel should be suspended if the advice to ministers is that international law has been broken, but the government is refusing to make the guidance public, citing confidentiality.

Sir Keir Starmer has resisted backing an embargo without seeing the advice.

Youth Demand, which is calling for an arms embargo and an end to oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, said three of its supporters had sprayed the outside of Labour’s head office while another painted the lobby.

One of those involved, Chris Faulkner, 21, an earth sciences student from Oxford, said: “There has never been a safer time for Labour to be bold. Instead, they are behaving like the biggest cowards imaginable.

“Young people will not stand by and watch Keir Starmer allow mass murder by selling weapons to Israel and allowing the development of new oil and gas.

“Over 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza and the breakdown of our climate will kill hundreds of millions more in the coming decades.”

Labour declined to comment on the protest.

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UK is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel, Sunak warned

Civil servants request to stop work over arms sales to Israel

Opposition parties and a raft of legal experts have demanded the government publishes the legal advice it has been given on whether sales should continue to ensure the UK is not complicit in any law-breaking activities.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Strike told Sky News this morning the UK had a “duty” to support Israel “in her hour of need” despite the row over arms sales, as he defended the decision not to publish the advice on the grounds that “long-standing convention” prevents the government from doing so.

Downing Street also denied reports there were splits in the cabinet over whether to publish the legal advice or not.

Civil servants threaten to stop work over arms sales to Israel | Politics News

Civil servants overseeing arms exports to Israel have requested to “cease work immediately” over fears they could be complicit in war crimes in Gaza.

Officials in the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) have raised concerns with senior civil servants that they may be liable if it is deemed Israel has broken international law.

Politics Live: Ex-Foreign Office minister hits back after probe into Israel comments

In correspondence seen by Sky News, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents civil servants, has requested an urgent meeting with the department to discuss “the legal jeopardy faced by civil servants who are continuing to work on this policy”.

The letter, sent on Wednesday, said: “Given the implications for our members we believe there are ample grounds to immediately suspend all such work.

“We therefore request that you meet with us urgently to discuss this matter and cease work immediately.”

The correspondence shows the PCS has been asking the government for its legal advice on arming Israel since January, when a preliminary ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Israel’s acts in Gaza could amount to genocide.

A response to the union dated 13 March said “the question of criminal liability for civil servants is very unlikely to arise”.

However, the department said it can’t share the legal advice it is receiving as it is “confidential”.

Labour MP John McDonnell, a founding member of the PCS union group in parliament, said the government must “come clean”.

John McDonnell
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Labour MP John McDonnell

He told Sky News: “These civil servants should not be put at risk. The Rome Statute covering war crimes is clear that following a superior’s instructions is not a defence when it comes to charges of war crimes. The government must come clean on the legal advice they have.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has come under growing pressure to suspend arms sales to Israel after three British aid workers were killed in an airstrike on Monday.

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Last night, a letter signed by more than 600 lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices, warned the UK is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel.

The government does not directly supply Israel with weapons, but does grant export licences for British companies to sell arms to the country.

The US remains by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel, with Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell recently telling MPs that UK exports accounted for just 0.02% of Israel’s military imports.

There has been pressure within the Conservative Party to end exports – with MPs Flick Drummond, David Jones and Paul Bristow urging the government to reconsider.

The Lib Dems, the SNP and dozens of Labour MPs also want arms sales to be suspended, although the Labour leadership’s position is the government should publish its legal advice and suspend arms sales if there is a risk weapons could be used in “a serious breach of international humanitarian law”.

A government spokesperson said: “We keep advice on Israel’s adherence to International Humanitarian Law under review and will act in accordance with that advice.

“All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria.”

Denial of alleged coup attempt and ex-PM’s arms deal bid revealed in declassified documents | UK News

Details of an alleged government coup attempt and a prime minister’s desperate bid for an arms deal have been revealed in a slew of freshly declassified documents.

The secretive records have been released for the first time by the National Archives in Kew.

Among them is a letter surrounding a reported plot to overthrow Harold Wilson’s Labour government in 1968.

The story had enough weight to be recreated for Netflix royal drama The Crown, but correspondence from one of those accused years later described it as “nonsense” with “no foundation in fact”.

Those were the words of publishing guru Cecil King in a 1981 note to Whitehall mandarin Sir Robert Armstrong, as he dismissed claims he had conspired with Lord Mountbatten – the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle – and Lord Cudlipp.

Mr King, chairman of the International Publishing Corporation (IPC) which counted the Daily Mirror among its titles, accused Mr Wilson of feeding the coup allegation to the press years after he was legitimately ousted by Ted Heath’s Conservatives in 1970.

The alleged coup was reported in The Times newspaper, prompting the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher to address the claims in parliament.

Decades later, it formed part of season three of The Crown.

An embittered Mr King suspected that the accusation played a part in his removal from the IPC.

“Unlike most newspaper stories this one had no foundation in fact,” he said in his letter.

(Original Caption) 1978-London, England- Margaret Thatcher, leader of the British Conservative Party, is on the threshold of becoming Britain's first woman Prime Minister. Mrs. Thatcher wears dark blue dress with white collar, background is dark.
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Margaret Thatcher was forced to address the reports

Composer loved by royals ‘sought help with illegal drug supply’

Also revealed is how a revered British composer beloved by the Royal Family secretly sought state help to supply him with illegal quantities of controlled drugs.

Sir William Walton, whose famous composition Crown Imperial was used in the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and the Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year, was said to be “very dependent” on Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD.

Records show his wife, Lady Susana Walton, asked a police inspector in 1982 to help send a year’s supply to his home on the island of Ischia, near Naples, in Italy.

Sending such high volumes of the substance abroad was illegal, but his wife asked anyway because – the records suggest – she “rather lives with her head in the clouds”.

UK knew of French president’s secret health woes

Another revelation released by the National Archives is that the UK government knew the extent of ailing French president Francois Mitterrand’s ill-health a decade before his terminal prognosis was made public.

Diplomat Sir Reginald Hibber filled in Whitehall colleagues in December 1981 with “talk about the President’s health which seemed to me to carry a certain amount of conviction”.

Sir Reginald suggested Mr Mitterrand may have cancer, less than a year after he had taken office.

That proved to be correct, as Mr Mitterrand died in 1996 with prostate cancer – something he successfully concealed from the French public throughout his presidency – which ended in 1995 – and until his death.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks to the media on the second day of the European Union heads of state and governments summit in Brussels December 15, 2006. REUTERS/Yves Herman (BELGIUM)
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Tony Blair’s bid for an arms deal with Kuwait is also detailed in the documents

Blair begged Kuwait for arms deal

According to other declassified records, Tony Blair begged Kuwait to buy UK artillery as payback for supporting the Middle Eastern nation during the Gulf War.

He repeatedly lobbied Crown Prince Sheikh Sa’ad between 1998 and 1999, even calling in on him during a brief stopover on a flight home from South Africa to press the point.

Internal briefing notes show the government believed it was “due the award of a significant defence equipment contract in recognition of its defence of Kuwait” following the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in 1990.

The efforts did not immediately reap rewards, as Kuwait announced its intention to buy US artillery instead.