Campaigners to challenge UK on Saudi arms deal

By staff writers
November 6, 2007

Following the controversial state visit of King Abdullah, peace campaigners are going to the Royal Courts of Justice at the end of the week to challenge an official decision to end an investigation into Saudi arms links.

At an oral hearing in the High Court scheduled for 9 November 2007, lawyers for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House will argue that permission should be granted for a full judicial review hearing against the UK Government's decision to cut short an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

The two groups contend that the decision is unlawful under the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention, which the UK signed in 1997. The Government has denied any breach of the Convention – but has declared that it would have taken the decision to terminate the investigation, regardless of international law, on the grounds of “national security”.

The campaigners' lawyers will argue that the SFO decision failed to take into account the national security implications of not proceeding with the investigation. They will contend that the UK Government's willingness to turn a blind eye to corruption within Saudi Arabia has the potential to encourage more international resentment towards the UK.

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