For the record

This site was set up to detail the judicial review of the decision to end the SFO investigation into BAE-Saudi arms deals.

Now the judicial review has finished, the site will be left online for the record. It is frozen as of February 2009.

For further information about corruption, visit The Corner House, or about BAE and the UK Government's arms dealing, visit CAAT.

7 June 2007

Groups to Challenge UK Judge’s Refusal to Permit Judicial Review of BAE Bribery Case

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade are to challenge the refusal of a High Court judge to grant permission for a judicial review of the UK government’s controversial decision to abandon its investigation into alleged bribery by BAE in its dealing with Saudi Arabia.

The refusal was based on a review of the written arguments submitted to the court. The two campaign groups have now applied for a hearing at which they will be able to renew their application orally.

The UK’s decision to terminate the BAE corruption inquiry decision caused international furore when it was announced in December 2006. The Government argued that continuing the probe might lead to Saudi Arabia withdrawing diplomatic cooperation with the UK on security and intelligence.

In April 2007, The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) applied for a judicial review of the decision, arguing that it violated Britain’s international obligations under the OECD’s Anti-bribery Convention, to which the UK is a party. Article 5 of the Convention expressly forbids the termination of corruption investigations on grounds other than the merits of the case. There are no national security exemptions written into the Convention.

Despite acknowledging the “importance of the issues raised”, the Hon. Mr Justice Collins has rejected the application. “It is clear that national security must always prevail and no State could be expected to take action which jeopardises the security of the State or the lives of its citizens”, said the judge in a written statement. The full statement can be read as pdf .

Commenting on the decision, Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House stated:

“We are disappointed that the court has rejected the application but confident that we will receive permission once the full arguments have been heard in an oral hearing. We do not accept that the national security concerns cited by the government trump the Convention – and have yet even to see evidence that such concerns are even warranted. If national security is allowed to prevail regardless, then the Convention is dead, since governments will always be able to avoid potentially embarrassing investigations.”

Symon Hill of CAAT stated:

"The new allegations of bribery make it even more essential that the SFO inquiry is reopened and light is shed on the payments to Saudi royals and officials by BAE Systems, whether these were made with or without the knowledge of the UK government."

The groups have now applied for an expedited oral hearing before the High Court.

ENDS

Notes

1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. The Corner House is an environmental and social justice NGO.

2. Spokespeople for CAAT and The Corner House are available for interview.

Media Contacts

CAAT - Symon Hill
020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232

Corner House - Nicholas Hildyard
07773 750 534