Page last updated at 05:01 GMT, Friday, 9 November 2007

BAE inquiry decision challenged

Eurofighter
Earlier this year BAE won a new deal from Saudi Arabia

A pressure group is going to the High Court to challenge the legality of the decision to end investigations into BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia.

Corner House Research is due later to ask the High Court for permission to seek a judicial review.

It wants to challenge the Serious Fraud Office's decision last year to stop investigations into whether BAE gave money to Saudi officials in the 1980s.

BAE, the UK's largest defence group, has always said it acted lawfully.

'Slush fund'

The allegation investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) centred on BAE's 43bn Al-Yamamah arms deal to Saudi Arabia in 1985, which provided Tornado and Hawk jets plus other military equipment.

BAE was accused of operating a slush fund to help it secure the contract.

The SFO inquiry into the Al Yamamah deal was stopped in December 2006 by the government, with attorney general Lord Goldsmith announcing that it was threatening the UK's national security.

BAE has since secured a giant new order from Saudi Arabia.

Announced in September, Saudi Arabia is buying 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets for about 4.4bn.

Corner House, a group that campaigns for enforcement of the law in overseas corruption offences, is expected to argue that even if national security was at risk, there was still not legal justification for ending the investigation.


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