In a statement, Sir Richard said:  “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government.

“We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr Khashoggi.” Virgin was in talks with Saudi sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund about a proposed $1bn investment in space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit. Talks have been going on since October 2017, when the Saudi intention to invest was agreed by Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and Sir Richard.

    The Virgin investment plan was part of Saudi efforts to diversify its economy away from its dependence on oil profits.