Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 16:57 UK

Terror risk drove Eurofighter move

Frank Gardner
By Frank Gardner
Security correspondent, BBC News

Eurofighter Typhoon jets

Saudi Arabia's official position on the issue of alleged corruption and probes into arms deals is that this is a British story and it has nothing to do with them.

But that, of course, is not the whole picture.

The High Court has been told how a certain Saudi prince pressured the British government to stop this investigation, which would have peered into his own private Swiss bank accounts and those of his close relatives, looking for alleged bribes.

That, say British diplomats, is a red line the Saudis will not allow to be crossed.

Britain really was told that if the Serious Fraud Office investigation went ahead, then Saudi co-operation on counter-terrorism would stop.

After Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has one of the closest working counter-terrorism relationships with Britain in the region.

Saudi agents monitor suspected extremists as they make the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The threat to suspend co-operation in 2006 was conveyed by one particular Saudi prince.

He may - or may not - have been able to stop that bilateral co-operation. But with memories still fresh from the London bombings, British officials were simply not willing to take that risk.


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The BAE Systems Eurofighter in action



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