Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were branded “clerical fascists and homicidal maniacs” in the Commons as ministers came under renewed pressure to proscribe the group as a terrorist organisation.
The IRGC is a special branch of Iran’s armed forces which has been sanctioned by the UK Government.
Speaking during a session Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office questions in the Commons, Labour MP John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) renewed calls to go further and ban it as a terror group.
He said: “(The IRGC) are widely recognised on both sides of the House as a bunch of clerical fascists and homicidal maniacs who particularly enjoy torturing and murdering women.
“I suspect the Foreign Secretary agrees with us – as I said on both sides of the House – why doesn’t he make that final step and just proscribe them?”
“The evidence of their wider malign influence in the region is clear. Likewise their links to supporting Russia, and their reach to Europe, including threats on these own shores.
“So how much more evidence does (the Foreign Secretary) and the Government need to see before the Government does what I’ve asked many, many times in this chamber to do and proscribe the IRGC?”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “The IRGC is already sanctioned in its entirety. Where it is involved with illegal activity our security forces and police forces take action. And I commend the actions that they take.
“We don’t routinely discuss future designations and sanctions, but we will always take actions which protect British people, British interests, and deter their malign activity.”
He added: “The actions this Government take with regards to the IRGC are to deter their malign activity – both within their own borders within the region and here in the UK – to protect British citizens, including dual nationals, and British interests overseas.”
On Monday, Labour MP for Halifax, Holly Lynch, told the Commons: “The Foreign Office is widely understood to be blocking attempts to prescribe the IRGC. Can the Foreign Secretary confirm if that is true?
“And can he explain, given the seriousness of the threat, why we haven’t yet proscribed the IRGC?”
Mr Cleverly replied: “The decision about whether we sanction, proscribe, is always one that we discuss across Government and any decisions on future designations or sanctions will be made across Government. I’m not going to speculate on what the future actions may be taken by this Government.”
In January, the House of Commons unanimously supported a non-binding motion urging the Government to make it a criminal offence to be a member of or invite support for the IRGC.