Thursday 10 April 2008

BAE Saudi Bribery Allegations should be Relaunched and Constitutional Renewal Bill Withdrawn

Following todays damning High Court judgement of the Governments intervention to block the Serious Fraud Offices inquiry into alleged bribes by BAE to Saudi officials I have called upon Gordon Brown to re-launch the inquiry and to drop the Governments proposals in its recently published Constitutional Renewal Bill to give the Attorney Generals powers to prevent or halt prosecutions on grounds of national security without recourse to Parliament or the courts

This judgement is an absolutely damning indictment of the Governments interference in our legal system. Never again should a Government be allowed to prevent justice being upheld.”

We should congratulate the Campaign Against the Arms Trade CAAT and Corner House who brought this case to court. They have done us all a service in exposing the illegality of the Government's actions.

The explanatory notes to the Governments draft Constitutional Renewal Bill states that the Bill "enables the Attorney General to give a direction to a prosecutor that, in relation to an investigation of specified matters, no proceedings for an offence are to be instituted or a direction that proceedings for a specified offence against a specified person are not to be continued. ..........Such a direction may only be given if it is necessary for the purposes of safeguarding national security."

These are sweeping powers to be placed in the hands of an Attorney General appointed by the Prime Minister. You can imagine how they would be used if we were ever able to bring to court those Ministers and officials responsible for taking this country to war in Iraq. As well as covering up the alleged bribes and corruption surrounding the Saudi arms deal maybe that is what they are designed for.