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The Serious Fraud Office Investigation of the BAe/Saudi Arms deal - June 2007

I continue to be seriously concerned about the decision to terminate the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into BAe systems’ al-Yamamah contract with Saudi Arabia and have signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 1713 in order to make these concerns public and on the official record.  To view the EDM click here.

In December 2006 I was one of the first MPs to sign EDM 595 which called on the UK Government to re-open the SFO investigation (see my earlier posting on this issue by clicking here).     

On 3 January I wrote to Lord Goldsmith on behalf of a constituent appalled at the decision to call off the SFO enquiry.  In his response to me of January 23 Lord Goldsmith referred me to his statement to Parliament on 14 December, which you can access by clicking here.

I am very supportive of the judicial challenge by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House and of CAAT’s ‘Control BAe: Reopen the Saudi corruption inquiry’ campaign.  I attended a meeting for MPs organised by CAAT on 23 January 2007.

Currently, the OECD is conducting an inquiry to establish how far Britain has complied with the international anti-bribery treaty it has signed, particularly over the decision to end the police investigation into BAe.  Britain’s reputation and ability to promote good governance around the world has been hugely damaged by this scandal.   Former Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, recently acknowledged that Britain's efforts to combat international corruption are “currently being overshadowed by the BAe/Saudi case” (reported in the Guardian, 20 June 2007).

Meanwhile BAe Systems has appointed Lord Woolf to chair a committe to review BAe Systems' business ethics; however, I note that the committee's terms of reference will be confined to the firm's present and future conduct; it will not examine the al-Yamamah contract nor will it investigate the ongoing SFO inquiries into arms deals in the Czech Republic, South Africa, Tanzania, Romania, and Chile.

I do have concerns about the relationship between BAe and the Ministry of Defence (MOD).   I have been asking Secretary of State Des Browne a series of Parliamentary Questions on this issue and I will post further information on my website when I receive the Minister's answers.

Click here for press release on the flow of staff from the MoD to BAe Systems.

Click here for previous postings on the Middle East


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