7 August 2007
MPs' report on arms exports evades BAE-Saudi controversy
A report on arms exports by a key committee of MPs has failed to examine the Government's recent suspension of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE's arms deals with Saudi Arabia. The Quadripartite Committee - which brings together the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Select Committees - gave only three paragraphs of its 164-page annual report to the issue, which in recent months has caused huge controversy both in the UK and internationally. The report merely notes the main details without either criticising or endorsing the Government's decision.
CAAT Parliamentary Co-ordinator Ann Feltham said:
"The Government sparked public outrage with its decision to curtail a corruption inquiry into BAE. This was followed by a string of allegations about BAE in the media. It is bizarre that the Quadripartite Committee can produce 164 pages on arms exports and devote only three paragraphs to the BAE-Saudi controversy. It does not press the Ministry of Defence for answers, even when it is alleged that MoD accounts were used to facilitate corrupt payments to a foreign official, Prince Bandar. The Committee is undermining its long-standing reputation for rigour and thoroughness by failing to hold the Government to account."ENDS
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. The Quadripartite Committee includes MPs from the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Select Committees. Its annual report is published at 12.01am today (07.08.07). The BAE-Saudi controversy is covered in paragraphs 341-343.
3. On 14th December 2006, the Government and the Serious Fraud Office announced that they were suspending an investigation into BAE Systems' arms deals with Saudi Arabia. CAAT and The Corner House, an anti-corruption NGO, have lodged grounds for a judicial review of this decision.
4. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview on this issue.
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