16.12.06

Why did Blair stop the investigation of Saudi Fraud? | Do the Saudis direct UK foreign policy? | Was the Bush Crime Family involved in ending it?

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics:

Police: we were bugged in effort to halt BAe Saudi arms inquiry | The PM's defence that stopping a Serious Fraud Office investigation was 'in the national interest' is unravelling

Investigators were about to gain access to Swiss banking documents that, they believed, could have provided strong evidence of corruption. Last month Mr Turner said the Saudi government had halted commercial talks over the 10bn [pounds] Eurofighter deal because of anger over the SFO inquiry. It is believed that the story was orchestrated by Lord Bell, who has run a PR campaign on behalf of the defence firm and the Saudi royal family.

It was claimed scrapping the contract for 72 Typhoon fighters would threaten 50,000 jobs. But international law forbids countries from using commercial considerations to exempt firms from anti-corruption prosecutions.

The exemption helps explain why Mr Blair ordered the preparation of a special Cabinet Office report, arguing that Britain's security was at stake. Whitehall sources say Downing Street was keen that Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, shared responsibility for the decision to scrap the inquiry. But they were only asked for tightly defined assessments of the effects of a downturn on defence and foreign relations.

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