When Tony Blair intervened to get the Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE's alleged corruption in Saudi Arabia stopped on grounds of national security, few people believed a legal challenge could succeed. When it comes to protecting the lives and security of the nation, the courts allow the executive "an especially wide margin of discretion", noted the judges in this case. Yesterday's judgment that the SFO director acted unlawfully in dropping the inquiry is therefore a major blow to the government - and its ability to sweep controversial issues under the carpet.
The ruling has seriously constrained the government's ability to invoke national security without scrutiny.… Seguir leyendo »
By Simon Jenkins (THE TIMES, 10/06/07):
The Saudi bribes scandal may yet prove a more devastating epilogue to the Blair era than cash for honours. The original deal, reached in 1985 by Margaret Thatcher, doubled the price of a Tornado jet to cover huge commissions to members of the Saudi royal family and their retainers.
It has led the British government to defy international anticorruption treaties and impede the conduct of justice by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Last week it emerged that it had also impeded corruption investigators from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
All this was to appease an outlandishly corrupt, authoritarian and brutal dictatorship, embodying everything that Tony Blair claims to detest in his “war of values” and against which his soldiers are dying in Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
By Carne Ross, a former diplomat, runs Independent Diplomat, a non-profit advisory group. He is the author of Independent Diplomat: Dispatches From an Unaccountable Elite (THE GUARDIAN, 09/06/07):
The story of possible corruption between BAE and the Saudi government, and how the British government ignored it, is shocking. But we should not regard this episode as an aberration. Instead, it should force us to question the way foreign policy is thought about and practised in government today.For decades British policy towards Saudi Arabia has been dominated by al-Yamamah, the massive BAE deal to provide aircraft and supplies. When I worked on the Middle East at the Foreign Office in the mid-90s, it was widely assumed that, along with uninterrupted oil supplies, this was what Britain's Saudi policy was "about".… Seguir leyendo »
By George Monbiot (THE GUARDIAN, 08/06/07):
Never let members of this government complain about corruption abroad. Never let them blame the failure of Tony Blair's mission to rescue Africa on venal dictators and grasping officials. The allegations published in the Guardian yesterday about slush funds used to oil the Al-Yamamah deal suggest that there is nothing that foreign despots can teach us about corruption.In 2003, the Guardian uncovered evidence suggesting that the arms company BAE had been running a £60m slush fund, which it used to provide gifts and prostitutes to Saudi officials to facilitate its massive weapons deal. Prince Turki bin Nasser, the Saudi minister for arms procurement, was alleged to be a beneficiary.… Seguir leyendo »
By John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman (THE GUARDIAN, 16/12/06):
This much we knew already: Tony Blair's administration is riddled with double standards and hypocrisy in its international dealings. But Lord Goldsmith's announcement that the Serious Fraud Office was calling off its investigation into alleged corruption involving BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia dragged matters to an all-time low.The explanations given are startling. Goldsmith has form in being flexible with the law and the truth - as with his legal advice in advance of Iraq. He said the following, to a near-empty House of Lords on Thursday evening as the media's attention was on the police questioning of the prime minister and the report on Diana's death: "It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest."… Seguir leyendo »
By Oliver Kamm, the author of 'Anti-Totalitarism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy' (THE TIMES, 16/12/06):
Justifying the forced closure of the Serious Fraud Office’s inquiry into corruption in a Saudi arms deal to buy 72 Eurofighter jets from BAE Systems, Tony Blair spoke as an old-fashioned realist. Nations have interests; those strategic interests are paramount. “Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is vitally important for our country.”
So what price now for foreign policy with an ethical dimension? I wrote a short book last year in which I argued for the PM’s interventionist foreign policies. The principal flaw in them seemed to me not the challenge to autocratic states, but the absence of a sense of priorities in making that challenge.… Seguir leyendo »
By Ewen McAskill (THE GUARDIAN, 15/11/06):
Tony Blair was elected on a promise to put an end to the sleaze of the Major years. Of all the blows to this government's reputation for integrity - from its deal on tobacco advertising and motor-racing to the cash-for-peerages row - none has been as scandalous as the announcement yesterday by the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, that the Serious Fraud Office was dropping its investigation into corruption over a multi-billion British-Saudi arms deal.
Lord Goldsmith said last week he had no intention of interfering with the investigation, following talks with the SFO director, Robert Wardle.… Seguir leyendo »
By David Leigh (THE GUARDIAN, 07/12/06):
All the Chicken Lickens in Britain's business press have been running about for the past fortnight shouting: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" The cause of this hysteria, adroitly stoked up by our biggest arms firm, BAE Systems, is that the economy is allegedly in danger because the Saudi royal family may take away a warplane contract worth £10bn.
But a senior British diplomat, Stephen Day, said publicly this week what many sensible people have been thinking for some time. He told the Financial Times that Britain might be better off if it ended its corrupt liaison with Saudi Arabia.… Seguir leyendo »