David Davis opposed Sajid Javid's death penalty waiver for 'Isis Beatles'

Posted On: 
26th July 2018

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis disagreed with a decision not to oppose the death penalty for two British-born Isis fighters facing trial in the United States.

The ex-Brexit secretary revealed that he had opposed the controversial plan not to press for assurances from the United States

It emerged this week that Home Secretary Sajid Javid had written to US authorities making clear that the UK would not demand any "assurances" that captured Isil fighters Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh - part of the notorious "Beatles" group of Islamist terrorists - be spared execution.

The Telegraph reports that Mr Davis - who quit the Cabinet earlier this month - was among several ministers who raised objections to the waiver, which has sparked a backlash from Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

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He told the paper: "Yes, I do oppose [the decision]. It believe it was unnecessary."

One current and another former Cabinet minister are also said to have opposed the decision.

But former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has come out in defence of his decision to support the move to share intelligence with the US without reassurances, which critics fear could undermine Britain's longstanding opposition to the death penalty.

Writing in the Spectator, he said: "The best hope of bringing Kotey and Elsheikh to justice is in America, and in sending them there the UK government has not dropped its opposition to the death penalty.

"We had to balance two risks: the risk that they would be simply set loose, like so many other jihadis, to roam the streets of London again, or the small risk that they might receive the death penalty under the US system.

"Sajid Javid and I decided that the first risk was worse than the second. Who really believes we were wrong?"

Yvette Cooper, Labour chair of the cross-party Home Affairs Committee, has meanwhile written to Mr Javid to demand fresh details on the controversial decision.

The senior MP accused the Home Secretary of "waiving the UK’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty", and has asked to see Home Office legal advice as well as full detail of any similar cases in which the UK has allowed waivers.