Britain will “act accordingly” if “appalling” stories about the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi turn out to be true, Jeremy Hunt has warned.
The Foreign Secretary said the claim that Khashoggi died in a fight “does not amount to a credible explanation”, and told the Commons: “Anyone found responsible for any offence must be held fully accountable.”
Making a statement to MPs on Monday evening, Hunt said: “The government condemns his killing in the strongest possible terms.
“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.”
Hunt’s comments echoed those made earlier in the day by Theresa May.
“We must get to the truth of what happened”, the PM said.
US President Donald Trump also said on Monday he was “not satisfied” with what he had heard from Saudi Arabia regarding the death.
Saudi Arabia has said Khashoggi was murdered in a “rogue operation” – after weeks of giving conflicting accounts.
Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that the killing was a “tremendous mistake” but denied powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the death of the Washington Post columnist.
“We are determined to find out all the facts. And we are determined to punish those who are responsible for his murder,” he said.
He added: “The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try and cover up.
“Even the senior leadership of our intelligence service was not aware of this.”
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2.
He was collecting documents which would allow him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside.
The official added that Saudi Arabia does not know where the body is.
CCTV footage shows Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of the Crown Prince’s entourage, at the consulate before Khashoggi’s arrival. There is no footage showing Khashoggi’s, and Turkish officials say they have audio evidence that the 59-year-old was murdered.
In a statement last week, Hunt said he would “treat the incident seriously” and stressed friendships that “depend on shared values” between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
A joint statement between Britain, France and Germany called for a “credible investigation”, with the Foreign Secretary adding that if Saudi Arabia was behind the disappearance, Britain would “have to think about the appropriate way to react in that situation”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on Monday that the Prime Minister looked “foolish” for having hosted the Crown Prince on a state visit earlier this year.
She said the government “must wake up to the reality of who the Crown Prince really is” and called on Hunt to “accept that UK arms sales for the use in Yemen must be suspended pending a comprehensive UN-led investigation into all alleged war crimes”.
The Foreign Secretary said: “We keep the situation constantly under review, including any implications that arise from the Khashoggi investigation.”