Resources: SFO-BAE-Saudi Arabia

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade brought a judicial review in 2008 of the decision by the UK Serious Fraud Office Director to stop its investigation into alleged bribery and false accounting by BAE in relation to its Saudi Arabian deals. The groups argued that the UK had contravened its obligations under the OECD’s Anti-bribery Convention and that the SFO Director had not upheld “the rule of law”.

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Peter Marshall, Newsnight

29 May 2009

BBC2 Television's Newsnight current affairs programme summarised its 8 minute broadcast: "In 2006, the British government scotched a serious fraud investigation into BAE's biggest deal, with Saudi Arabia. Now, Peter Marshall [Newsnight presenter] reveals that the company may have returned the favour. It has stopped a billion pound insurance contract which tied the government to the Saudi business." Information about stopping the insurance contract came to light as a result of legal correspondence between The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department.

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

29 May 2009

BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms company, has cancelled all its public insurance for its controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The company's decision came to light as a result of legal correspondence between The Corner House/Campaign Against Arms Trade with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) and subsequent parliamentary questions tabled by Vince Cable MP. By cancelling its insurance, BAE has let the ECGD off the hook from possible legal action over its support for the Saudi deals.

Frontline

7 April 2009

The US public television's flagship public affairs programme, Frontline, produced a 60-minute documentary on "black money" -- the secret payments that make up the shadowy world of international bribery. It reveals how multinational companies create slush funds and set up front companies to obtain business and contracts. In describing the crackdown on these practices, the documentary focuses on BAE Systems and allegations about its billion dollar bribes. It includes an interview with former Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Director Robert Wardle, who describes as "blackmail" the Saudi threat to withdraw intelligence cooperation with the UK if the SFO's BAE-Saudi investigation continued.

following up OECD Phase2bis report
solicitors Leigh Day & Co, and Export Credits Guarantee Department

30 March 2009

This exchange of letters between the UK's export credit agency and lawyers acting for The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade revealed that BAE Systems had cancelled all its public insurance for its arms sales to Saudi Arabia with effect from 1 September 2008. These sales have been underwritten by the agency for more than two decades and accounted for half its portfolio.

Insights from 'the BAE case'
Sarah Sexton and Nicholas Hildyard

1 November 2008

This presentation at the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference highlights the contrast between the UK government's stated commitments to tackling bribery and corruption and its actions in practice. Far from having a "lack of political will", it is argued that the government has immense political will to protect powerful companies from prosecution for bribery, and has thereby created a hostile political environment for fraud investigators and prosecutors.

Campaign Against Arms Trade and The Corner House

17 October 2008

On 17 October 2008, the OECD's Working Group on Bribery issued a report, which holds that the UK authorities did breach their obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention when the Serious Fraud Office cancelled its investigation into arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia in December 2006. The Corner House and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) issued this press release of the report, which vindicates their judicial review of the decision.

Connections with Financial and Foreign Policy
Sarah Sexton

24 September 2008

This presentation raises some concerns about the term "energy security". presentation at PLATFORM's "Unravelling the Carbon Web".

The Corner House and CAAT

30 July 2008

The Corner House and CAAT issued this press release after the House of Lords (the UK's highest court) overturned the High Court's ruling of April 2008 that the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had acted unlawfully when he terminated a corruption investigation into BAE Systems' arms deals with Saudi Arabia. The law lords judgment confirms that the UK is in flagrant breach of its duty to implement and give force to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

In BAE-SFO-Saudi judicial review
Lord Bingham, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger, Baroness Hale and Lord Brown

30 July 2008

On 30 July 2008, five Law Lords overturned the High Court's ruling of April 2008 when they stated that the SFO Director had acted lawfully in stopping a corruption investigation into BAE Systems' arms deals with Saudi Arabia when faced with a threat to national security. They stated that the Director's discretion to drop criminal proceedings extended legally to taking account of the threat uttered by Saudi Arabia that it would withdraw diplomatic and intelligence cooperation with the UK if the investigation continued, even though the threat was "ugly and obviously unwelcome".

in response to Law Lords' judgments in BAE-Saudi appeal
The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

30 July 2008

This statement was issued in response to the House of Lords overturning the judgment of the High Court that the Director of the Serious Fraud Office acted legally in terminating the SFO's investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in its dealings in Saudi Arabia.

JUSTICE

4 July 2008

This is a submission to the House of Lords in response to an appeal by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office from the independent human rights and law reform organisation, JUSTICE, which is the British section of the International Commission of Jurists. The submission addresses the domestic legal principles by which the legality of a prosecutor's decision to halt a criminal investigation in response to a threat should be assessed, and the relevant international obligations at issue, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

in House of Lords
Serious Fraud Office

26 June 2008

This is the Printed Case appeal to the House of Lords by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against a High Court ruling on 10 April 2008 that the SFO acted unlawfully in December 2006 when it stopped its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Ann Feltham

23 June 2008

This second witness statement from Campaign Against Arms Trade updates the House of Lords on official investigations by the US and Swiss authorities into alleged bribery and corruption by BAE Systems in relation to the Al-Yamamah military aircraft contracts.

Sarah Sexton

18 June 2008

The Woolf Report entitled Ethical business conduct in BAE Systems plc -- the way forward was published on 6 May 2008. This presentation explores how BAE has used the report from a critical public relations perspective. 

on the 'constitutionality' of draft Constitutional Renewal Bill
Jeffrey Jowell QC

12 June 2008

This 'legal opinion' from a top UK constitutional lawyer concludes that a clause in the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (published 25 March 2008) effectively preventing judicial review of a decision to halt a prosecution or fraud investigation on the grounds of national security violates a fundamental UK constitutional principle of the rule of law, and could be challenged under the Human Rights Act.

by Robert Wardle, former Director, Serious Fraud Office
Robert Wardle

9 June 2008

This third witness statement from Robert Wardle, the former Director of the Serious Fraud Office, was submitted by the Serious Fraud Office in its appeal in the House of Lords.

by Helen Garlick, Assistant Director, Serious Fraud Office
Helen Garlick

9 June 2008

This second witness statement from the the Serious Fraud Office's Assistant Director was submitted by the Serious Fraud Office for its House of Lords appeal.

by Dr John Jenkins, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dr John Jenkins, FCO

9 June 2008

A witness statement from Dr John Jenkins of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, presented by the Serious Fraud Office during its appeal in the House of Lords. 

in House of Lords Appeal
The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

4 June 2008

This submission from The Corner House and CAAT lawyers to the House of Lords in response to an appeal by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office focuses on two principles of law: the Rule of Law; and compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The Corner House and CAAT

24 April 2008

On 24 April 2008, the UK High Court formally quashed the Serious Fraud Office's (SFO) decision to drop its corruption investigation into arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. It also gave the SFO permission to appeal to the House of Lords against its 10th April 2008 ruling that the SFO's termination of the investigation was unlawful.

of judgment on Corner House and CAAT v. Director of the Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems PLC
Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan

10 April 2008

On 10 April 2008, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the decision of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to drop an investigation into alleged bribes by BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia was unlawful. As the judgment is long -- on the judges' own admission -- they prepared a summary of the first part of their ruling.

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

10 April 2008

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade issued this press release after the High Court ruled, in response to a judicial review brought by both groups, that the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had acted unlawfully when he stopped a corruption investigation into BAE Systems' arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Observer, Daily Telegraph

10 April 2008

Media coverage was extensive following the ruling by Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan on 10 April 2008 that the decision of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to drop an investigation into alleged bribes by BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia was unlawful. This is a selection of some leading articles from UK newspapers from 10-17 April 2008.

in response to CAAT/The Corner House request for judicial review
Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan

10 April 2008

On 10 April 2008, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the decision of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to drop an investigation into alleged bribes by BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia was unlawful. This is their 42-page judgment.

Campaign Against Arms Trade and The Corner House

10 April 2008

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade held a press conference at the offices of the groups' solicitors, Leigh Day & Co, following the High Court ruling in response to the judicial review brought by both groups. This statement was read out at the press conference.

the judgement on Corner House and CAAT v. Director of the Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems PLC
Dr Susan Hawley

10 April 2008

On 10 April 2008, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the decision of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to drop an investigation into alleged bribes by BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia was unlawful. This is a summary and analysis of that judgment prepared by The Corner House.

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

4 April 2008

Even before the judgement has been given on the landmark judicial review of the decision by the UK's Serious Fraud Office to halt its BAE-Saudi Arabia corruption investigation, the UK Government has introduced draft legislation whose effect would be to prevent in future such a judicial review -- and even such an investigation. The Corner House and CAAT are calling upon the public and parliamentarians to voice their concerns about the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill.

Dinah Rose QC, Ben Jaffey, Richard Stein and Jamie Beagent

31 March 2008

The UK Government's draft Constitutional Renewal Bill proposes to create a new power for a political appointee and member of the Government, the Attorney General, to stop a criminal investigation or prosecution on the grounds of 'national security' without explanation or accountability to Parliament, the Courts or international bodies.

Proceedings of second day of judicial review
court proceedings

15 February 2008

On 14-15th February 2008, the High Court heard a judicial review of the Serious Fraud Office's decision in December 2006 to terminate its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia. This document is a transcript of the court proceedings of the second day, 15 February 2008, on which lawyers for the Serious Fraud Office continued their defence.

Proceedings of first day of judicial review
court proceedings

14 February 2008

On 14-15th February 2008, the High Court heard a judicial review of the Serious Fraud Office's decision in December 2006 to terminate its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia. This document is a transcript of the court proceedings of the first day, 14 February 2008, on which lawyers representing The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade presented their arguments, and lawyers for the Serious Fraud Office began their defence.

CAAT and The Corner House

14 February 2008

This press release highlights the documents released in the High Court on 14 February 2008 revealing that Britain's biggest arms company, BAE Systems, wrote to the Attorney General on a "strictly private and confidential" basis urging him to halt the Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations that BAE had bribed Saudi officials to secure the Al Yamamah arms deal.

various

14 February 2008

Documents released in the High Court on 14 February 2008 reveal that BAE Systems wrote to the Attorney General on a "strictly private and confidential" basis urging him to halt the Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations that BAE had bribed Saudi Arabian officials to secure the Al Yamamah arms deal. The company argued that the investigation should be dropped on commercial and diplomatic grounds.

Of Serious Fraud Office decision to stop BAE-Saudi corruption inquiry
The Corner House and CAAT

8 February 2008

On 14th February 2008, the High Court will hear the judicial review of the Serious Fraud Office's decision to terminate its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

For Judicial Review hearing 14-15 February 2008
lawyers on behalf of The Corner House and CAAT

4 February 2008

On 14 February 2008 in the High Court, lawyers for The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade presented this outline (or 'skeleton') of their arguments as to why the decision in December 2006 by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to discontinue the SFO investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent Al Yamamah arms deals with Saudi Arabia was unlawful. 

Robert Wardle, Director of Serious Fraud Office

31 January 2008

A second witness statement from the Director of the Serious Fraud (SFO), Robert Wardle, was released in the High Court on Thursday 14 February 2008 during the judicial review hearing brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House into his decision to terminate the SFO's BAE-Saudi investigation.

31 January 2008

A witness statement from the Assistant Director of the Serious Fraud (SFO), Helen Garlick, was released in the High Court on Thursday 14 February 2008 (although dated 31 January) during the judicial review hearing brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House into the SFO Director's decision to terminate the SFO's BAE-Saudi investigation.

Lord Justice Moses

17 January 2008

On 17 January 2008, Lord Justice Moses finalised the grounds on which The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade could bring its judicial review, the disclosure of documents from the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, and the costs to be paid by both parties.

The Corner House and CAAT

21 December 2007

Documents released in the UK High Court indicate that the Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE's Saudi arms deals was dropped only after the then Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a personal minute to the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith. They show that Goldsmith did not believe that the case should be dropped in response to alleged Saudi threats to withdraw intelligence and security co-operation.

various

21 December 2007

Documents released in the High Court on Friday 21 December 2007 indicate that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into BAE's Saudi arms deals was dropped only after the then Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a personal minute to the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.

Robert Wardle, Director of Serious Fraud Office

17 December 2007

A witness statement from the Director of the Serious Fraud (SFO), Robert Wardle, indicates that he repeatedly rejected requests to terminate the Serious Fraud investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Campaign Against Arms Trade and The Corner House

9 November 2007

On Friday 9 November 2007, two High Court judges granted permission to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House to bring a full judicial review hearing against the UK Government's decision in December 2006 to cut short a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Mr Justice Moses and Mr Justice Irwin

9 November 2007

On 9 November 2007, Lord Justice Moses sitting with Mr Justice Irwin granted The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade permission to bring a full judicial review hearing against the decision by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to terminate the SFO investigation into alleged bribery by BAE Systems in its Saudi Arabian arms deals. Their judgment outlines their reasons for giving permission, and summarises issues relating to the costs of the judicial review.

BAE-Saudi arms deals investigation legal challenge
The Corner House and CAAT

8 November 2007

At an oral hearing in the UK High Court on Friday 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.

For Permission Hearing for Judicial Review
lawyers on behalf of The Corner House and CAAT

7 November 2007

On 9 November 2007 at a High Court hearing, lawyers for The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade presented this outline (or 'skeleton') of their arguments as to why a judicial review should be held of the Serious Fraud Office's decision in December 2006 to cut short its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent Al Yamamah arms deals with Saudi Arabia. 

CAAT and The Corner House with Mark Thomas

23 September 2007

On 23 September 2007, activist comedian Mark Thomas organised a comedy benefit night of Britain's top comedians to raise public awareness of the UK's Serious Fraud Office decision to drop its investigation into bribery allegations involving BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia and to support the legal challenge to this decision. This "secret file" programme was given to all those who attended.

by Mr Justice Collins
Honorable Mr Justice Collins

29 May 2007

On 29 May 2007, a High Court judge refused to grant permission to The Corner House and CAAT for a full judicial review hearing of the December 2006 decision by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to stop an investigation into alleged bribery and corruption in BAE's recent arms contracts with Saudi Arabia.

Serious Fraud Office Director

11 May 2007

The Serious Fraud Office Director argues that permission to bring a judicial review of his decision to stop the BAE-Saudi Arabia-corruption investigation should be refused.

against the Director of the Serious Fraud Office
The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

18 April 2007

On 18 April 2007, The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) filed papers at the High Court in a judicial review of the UK's Serious Fraud Office's decision in December 2006 to end its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia.

Nicholas Hildyard

18 April 2007

This Corner House 'witness statement' outlines the nexus between corruption and bribery, and international trade, economic investment, terrorism and national security, and provides background on legislative and other steps to combat corruption. It forms part of the claim for a judicial review against the UK Government's decision in December 2006 to terminate an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent Al Yamamah arms contracts with Saudi Arabia.

Update on proposed judicial review, 25 January 2007
CAAT and The Corner House

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.

NGO letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair, 15 January 2007
National and international NGOs

15 January 2007

140 NGOs from 37 countries called upon Prime Minister Tony Blair to re-open the investigation of the Al Yamamah defence contract between BAE and Saudi Arabia government because of the impacts of corruption on democracy, sustainable development, human rights and poverty.

Treasury Solicitor reply, 5 January 2007
UK Government Treasury Solitictor

5 January 2007

The Treasury Solicitor confirmed that the Government intended to respond by 19 January 2007.

Corner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade response, 3 January 2007
The Corner House and CAAT

3 January 2007

Corner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade agreed to the Treasury Solicitor's request for an extension of time to respond to the 18 December 2006 letter sent on behalf of The Corner House and CAAT, provided that he confirmed that the groups would receive a response by 19 January 2007.

Treasury Solicitor reply, 28 December 2006
UK Government Treasury Solicitor

28 December 2006

The UK Government's Treasury Solicitor replied that the Government would endeavour to provide a substantive reponse by 19 January 2007 to the 18 December 2006 letter sent on behalf of The Corner House and CAAT.

CAAT and The Corner House

18 December 2006

On 18 December 2006, The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) began a legal challenge to the decision by the UK's Serious Fraud Office to drop the investigation into bribery allegations involving BAE Systems Plc in Saudi Arabia.