By Marcus Leach

The Government will introduce additional controls on the export to the US of drugs used in lethal injections and is calling on the EU to follow its lead.

Measures will be put in place to stop the export to the US of three drugs - pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride and sodium pentobarbital.

The move builds on the Government’s previous action in placing an emergency export control on sodium thiopental.

"We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and are clear that British drugs should not be used to carry out lethal injections," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

"That is why we introduced a control on sodium thiopental last year - the first of its kind in the world. And it is also why we are now controlling the export of the other drugs used in lethal injection in the US.

“Because of the importance and urgency of the situation this is an issue on which we felt we had to take the lead. But we are also urging our European partners to follow suit so that this control can work effectively across Europe. We have therefore written to the EU Commission calling on them to apply this control on an EU-wide basis."

The necessary order to extend the controls will be laid before Parliament in the coming days.

The Government urgently considered the case for extending export controls to cover the other drugs following a request from the campaigning group Reprieve. The group were concerned that the US may look to source these drugs from the UK.

Having consulted UK suppliers of these drugs and other interested parties, the Government is satisfied that legitimate medical trade will not be hampered by the decision.