Policy chief pulls out of Saudi investor summit


City of London Corporation boss Catherine McGuinness is the latest leader to shun a major investor summit in Saudi Arabia in response to journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

She and London Stock Exchange chief David Schwimmer have joined the string of leading figures to announce they will publicly boycott an upcoming three-day investor summit in Riyadh as world leaders apply pressure to their Saudi counterparts over the case.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post opinion columnist, has not been seen since 2 October when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork so he could marry his fiancé, while she waited outside.

Turkish officials allege he was killed inside within minutes of entering the consulate. Allegations are mounting accusing the Saudis of orchestrating the killing, after its authorities originally claimed he had left alive.

Turkish media has published descriptions of audio recordings they claim detail the columnist and Saudi dissident’s gruesome death, allegedly at the hands of Saudi agents.

Mrs McGuinness told the Corporation’s Court of Common Council on 18 October how, after discussions with the London Stock Exchange and with colleagues, she had concluded she could no longer attend the summit on their behalf.

“I have decided from the circumstances to withdraw from this conference,” she told them.

She added one of the Corporation’s priorities is to enhance trade and investment opportunities for the UK, which meant continued connections with nations including Saudi Arabia – but urged members to carry out those interactions “sensitively”.

“I’m sure that we will all share this concern and add our support to the UK government’s call for [Saudi authorities] to co-operate fully with investigators to deliver a clear and credible answer to the question of what happened.

“We will be raising these concerns with our Saudi counterparts.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation added: “The UK government asked the City of London Corporation to be part of efforts to develop a long-term partnership with Saudi Arabia.

“As part of this work, policy and resources chairman Catherine McGuinness was invited to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference to discuss asset management and financial services.

“However, ahead of this conference we want to make clear our deep concern at the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

“In the light of these developments the policy chairman will now not be attending the FII conference.”