(6) Legal challenge to decision to drop BAE corruption inquiry
Update on proposed judicial review, 25 January 2007

by CAAT and The Corner House

first published 25 January 2007

On Friday 19 January 2007, CAAT and The Corner House received the Government's formal response to their proposed judicial review challenge of the Serious Fraud Office decision to discontinue the investigation into BAE Systems.

The letter sent by the Government's solicitors seeks to defend the decision. There is nothing in that letter which has dissuaded CAAT and The Corner House from their view that the decision was unlawful and is susceptible to challenge in the High Court.

However, it has recently transpired that confidential and legally privileged material belonging to CAAT relating to the proposed legal challenge has been received by BAE Systems Plc. The material has been returned to CAAT voluntarily, but BAE has refused to state how it came into possession of the material.

On the advice of its legal team, CAAT made an application to the High Court on 23rd January 2007. The Court has directed that CAAT and BAE appear before it at a hearing on Friday 2nd February 2007. At that hearing, CAAT will be seeking an injunction compelling BAE to assist in identifying the source of the leak.

A further announcement will be made after the hearing on 2nd February. CAAT do not intend to comment further pending the hearing of their application.

Notes

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

2. On 14th December 2006, the Government and the Serious Fraud Office announced that they were dropping an inquiry into BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia. On 18th December 2006, CAAT and The Corner House wrote to the Government setting out a legal challenge and calling for this decision to be reversed. As the Government has failed to do this, they plan to instigate proceedings for a judicial review.