UK unlawfully ended Saudi probe: court
London, April 10, 2008
A British court ruled on Thursday that the country's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully in ending investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption in arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
Two judges allowed a challenge brought by two anti-arms campaigners, the Corner House Research Group and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CATT), over the SFO's handling of the case involving Britain's BAE Systems Plc.
The Serious Fraud Office's inquiry related to the massive Al Yamamah military aircraft contracts between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.
Neither the SFO nor BAE had immediate comment.
One of the judges, Lord Justice Moses, told the High Court in London that the director of the SFO had failed to satisfy them that he had done all he could to secure the rule of law.
'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,' he said.
Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair drew widespread criticism from political opponents and the media after saying that if the SFO had proceded with its investigation, it would damage Britain's national security. -Reuters