Thursday, April 10, 2008

Government 'Wrong' To Drop BAE Inquiry

A stunning indictment of the British government's craven attitude towards Saudi Arabia and big business:

The high court today ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was wrong to drop an investigation into alleged bribery in a massive arms deal between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.

The decision represents a stunning victory for Campaign Against Arms Trade and Corner House Research, which campaigns against corruption in international trade, as well as a major embarrassment for the government.

The two groups sought a review of the decision by the SFO director, Robert Wardle, to drop the investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in contracts between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. BAE and a Saudi national security adviser, Prince Bandar, deny the accusations.

At a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for the groups argued that the SFO's decision in December 2006 to drop its investigation into the Al-Yamamah deal was caused by Saudi Arabian pressure that amounted to diplomatic blackmail.

Tony Blair, the then prime minister, said the Saudis had privately threatened to cut intelligence cooperation over terrorism unless the inquiry was stopped.

In today's ruling, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan ruled Wardle "was required to satisfy the court that all that could reasonably be done had been done to resist the threat".

The judge went on to comment:

"No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice."

"It is the failure of government and the defendant to bear that essential principle in mind that justifies the intervention of this court."

This story goes to the very heart of all that was wrong with Tony Blair and his government. Fortunately for him, he has left office and has managed to collect a multitude of well payed roles within the corporate sector. This government, as it did with the Iraq war, has put the interests of a foreign power ahead of that of the UK and it's people.

Meanwhile, not all media outlets were keen to recognise the importance of this event. Only a couple of minutes into a report by a correspondent of Sky News, the channel decided to switch to a live press conference involving the parents of Madeline McCann about a new child protection system. In short, with all due sympathy to the parents, this was a pretty minor story when compared with the corrupt nature of the British government (at time of writing, it seems to have barely registered on the radar of most media outlets). Once again, the mainstream media diverts attention while our government continues to act in a corrupt manner. That they use the spectre of child abduction to do so is even more sickening.