David Cameron will personally urge Saudi authorities to abandon plans to publicly flog a British grandfather with 350 lashes and has cancelled a Ministry of Justice contract with the oil-rich kingdom. Downing Street told the press lobby that the prime minister will raise the "extremely concerning" case of pensioner Karl Andree by writing to Saudi officials.
The oil executive had been working in the Muslim country for more than 25 years, but faced the punishment after Saudi police caught him with bootleg wine in his car. The public flogging of 74-year-old Briton would be at the culmination of a year-long prison sentence.
Kirsten Piroth, Andree's daughter, said she was concerned for the cancer survivor, who also suffers from gout and asthma. "I cannot believe that they would administer that to an old man because he wouldn't survive it", she told the BBC. "I just feel that he received his sentence and he served his time – I just want him home now."
Cameron has also reportedly announced that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will now drop a prison service contract with the Saudi Arabian authorities. The moves comes after IBTimes UK exclusively revealed in July that Michael Gove's department was investigating the controversial programme as Saudi Arabia faced more security over its human rights' record.
The MoJ later told the High Court in August that a judicial review into the deal should be delayed as the department was already looking into the programme. The £5.9m ($9m) contract would have seen the UK government provide an "analysis of staff training needs" of Saudi Arabia's prison system and develop training programmes.
Gove, speaking after an urgent question from Labour's Andy Slaughter on the Andree case, told MPs: "It is important that the resources of the Ministry of Justice are targeted at our programme or domestic, public service reform.
"So, as had previously been announced, we have wound up the work that Just Solutions International (JSI), the commercial arm of the National Offender Management Service, has been engaged in.
"This is in line with our ambition to ensure that the department's resources are firmly focused on our domestic priorities. And in terms of the commercial work that JSI had been engaged in with Saudi Arabia, as the House is aware, the final bid was submitted in April of this year but discussions have been ongoing since and we have no reviewed this issue further and decided to withdraw our bid."