An all-expenses-paid trip by five UK MPs and their partners, including business-class travel to and from Sri Lanka, is cancelled amid cross-party recriminations – hours before departure, Channel 4 UK reports.
According Channel 4’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent; “The trip, and all its costs, would have been borne by the Sri Lanka-based charity “Foundation of Goodness,” founded by legendary spin-bowler Muttiah Muralitharan. He is an ethnic Tamil, who has been criticised for his support for the government.”
Quoting Conservative members of the group, Channel 4 said; the MPs would have met senior Sri Lankan government ministers and officials, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who stands accused of command responsibility for war crimes.
Channel 4 News said the sudden cancellation of their participation followed the intervention of a senior Labour front-bencher who strongly objected to what would have been a highly-controversial visit. The group of MPs was to have flown direct to Colombo from London Gatwick at 2.25pm on Thursday.
“Although the Sri Lankan government was not to have funded this particular trip, it has a long record of bank-rolling trips for British MPs, many of whom later staunchly defend the regime during parliamentary debates.Since January 2012, ten Conservative MPs have flown to Sri Lanka at Colombo’s expense.” Channel 4 said.