THE UK Government will be allowed to appeal over “unlawful” arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Trade with the Gulf kingdom was put on hold last month after the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government should not have allowed the sale of UK-made arms to the big-money buyer without having assessed whether reports of war crimes in Yemen did amount to breaches of international humanitarian law.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition at war in its poorer neighbour since 2015, in support of its internationally recognised government against armed Houthi militia.

The conflict, which has destroyed infrastructure, decimated imports of food and medicines and killed tens of thousands, has also led to the world’s worst ever cholera outbreak.

And bodies including Amnesty International have blamed the Saudi-led coalition for deadly attacks on civilian housing, hospitals, schools, wedding parties and even funerals.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which brought the case against International Trade Secretary Liam Fox last month, argued that the continued licensing of military equipment for export to Saudi Arabia was unlawful over the “clear risk” that it might be used in a violation of international humanitarian law.

The Government has now been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against that ruling.

However, the Government’s application to lift a temporary block on new export licences was rejected.

CAAT said more than 50 applications are currently outstanding.

Lucy Claridge, director of strategic litigation at Amnesty International, which has intervened in CAAT’s case, said: “It was a rare piece of good news when the Court of Appeal ruled to block UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and we very much hope the Supreme Court will rule the same way.

“UK weapons have been fuelling a conflict which has had devastating consequences for Yemeni civilians.

“During the past four years, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians – flattening homes, schools and hospitals in indiscriminate airstrikes.

“The Government should have halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia of its own volition years ago, but the courts will, we hope, force ministers to finally accept that these sales are wrong.”

The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on a date to be fixed.

The news comes after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major coalition player, has confirmed that it will draw down troops and redeploy others as it shifts its focus from battling the Houthi in northern regions of Yemen to counter-terrorism efforts in the south.

Almost every region in the 25 million strong country has been touched by the fighting, with only the Unesco-protected island of Socotra safe. However, it has been used by Emerati forces as a military outpost.

Speaking to the AFP press agency, Andreas Krieg, a professor at King’s College London, said that the reputation of the UAE has “taken a severe hit” as a result of the war crimes allegations, which have also been levelled towards the Houthis.

Saudi troops have now moved in to strategic sites that had been secured by their Emerati counterparts. These include Red Sea ports and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

UK-made arms that could be used in Yemen by the Saudis must be signed off by the Foreign Secretary and International Trade Secretary before a licence is granted. Sales have been worth at least £4.7 billion-since the conflict began.