Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House have instructed solicitors Leigh Day & Co to consider a legal action against the Attorney General. This is with respect to the decision to end the Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of corruption around the sale of military equipment by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia. CAAT and The Corner House are meeting with Leigh Day & Co and counsel, Blackstone Chambers, on Monday, 18th December 2006.
CAAT spokesperson Nicholas Gilby said:
"The Government's commitment to fighting fraud means nothing if BAE Systems is placed above the law. Democracy must not give way to bullying by arms companies. As with other criminal investigations, the Serious Fraud Office inquiry should be allowed to run its course."ENDS
For further information or an interview please contact CAAT's Media Co-ordinator, Symon Hill on 020 7281 0297 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. The Corner House is a not-for-profit social and environmental justice group.
3. In 2003, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) began an investigation into BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia. Matters being investigated include dealings since 2001. The inquiry has broadened to include matters relating to Chile, Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania. BAE Systems denied all allegations of corruption and stated that it was co-operating with the inquiry.
4. In December 2005, it was announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed a multibillion pound deal to buy Eurofighter jets from BAE Systems. In November 2006, it was reported that the Saudi authorities had suspended talks on the deal due to the investigation by the SFO.
5. On 8th December 2005, CAAT, The Corner House, British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and Saferworld wrote to the Government to call for the SFO inquiry to continue. They described as "pure fantasy" claims that the cancellation of the Eurofighter deal with Saudi Arabia would threaten 50,000 British jobs. They quoted a report commissioned by the Eurofighter PR and Communications Office and published on 16th June 2006. It is entitled The Industrial and Economic Benefits of the Eurofighter Typhoon and was written by Professor Keith Hartley of the Centre of Defence Economics at the University of York. The report states that by Eurofighter's own figures, around 11,000 jobs would be created across the whole of Europe, indicating less than 5,000 in the UK.
6. On 14th December 2006 the Attorney-General announced that the SFO was suspending its investigation into dealings between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. The Solicitor-General later added that the investigation is likely to have lasted a further eighteen months had it continued. It is understood that the SFO will continue to investigate allegations of corruptions against BAE Systems involving Chile, Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania.
7. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview on this subject.