The Serious Fraud Office won its Law Lords appeal today against a court ruling that it acted unlawfully in halting a corruption inquiry into a lucrative arms deal between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) took the case to the House of Lords after the High Court upheld a legal challenge brought by anti-corruption campaign groups.
Jonathan Sumption QC, for the SFO, told five Law Lords at a hearing this month that its director made a “legal and appropriate” decision to stop the inquiry in late 2006 after receiving threats from the Saudi Arabian government to withhold cooperation on critical issues of anti-terrorism. “The SFO director was convinced that Saudi Arabia wasn’t bluffing,” he said.
Because if they were really telling the truth then it’s just extortion, which is fine. If you get caught by the police carrying a knife, you’d better hope you’re providing the government with information about terrorism, else you’re going down. If you’re thinking of committing any crimes, make sure you’re in a position to threaten our ‘national interest’, and slow our ability to investigate terrorism. If you can do this and still be classed as an ‘ally’ etc, then you get extra points!
I feel for the SFO. They got to have fun building a case against BAE, sending rude legal letters and making impressive speeches. Now they have to defend the fact that they stopped investigating them, even though they knew that BAE are crooks, purely because Blair can’t remember how a legal system is meant to work. And on it goes.