For the record

This site was set up to detail the judicial review of the decision to end the SFO investigation into BAE-Saudi arms deals.

Now the judicial review has finished, the site will be left online for the record. It is frozen as of February 2009.

For further information about corruption, visit The Corner House, or about BAE and the UK Government's arms dealing, visit CAAT.

Latest news

The legal challenge
Latest on the judicial review.

SFO Saudi Arabia investigation
News on the decision to abandon the inquiry into alleged BAE corruption.

Other investigations into BAE
SFO probes into the company's dealings with other countries.

11 February 2008

Judicial Review Hearing

On 14-15 February, the High Court in London will hear the judicial review contesting the legality of the Serious Fraud Office's decision to terminate its investigation into alleged bribery by BAE Systems to secure a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

It was over one year ago that CAAT and The Corner House wrote jointly to the UK Government arguing that the decision was unlawful and should be reversed. Now the legality of that decision will finally be reviewed in court.

CAAT and The Corner House’s lawyers will argue that the SFO Director's decision was unlawful for six overlapping reasons. We claim that the decision contravenes the OECD Anti-bribery Convention and that the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, in allowing threats/blackmail to influence his decision, did not uphold the "rule of law". Our lawyers will also argue that Tony Blair's advice was tainted by improper considerations and was an unlawful interference with the independence of prosecutors under UK and international law.

The judicial review is expected to last two days, and has become a test case concerning:

  • the UK's adherence to its international legal obligations;
  • the rule of law;
  • the separation of powers in the UK between the judiciary and the executive (government);
  • the role of the executive (government) in prosecution decisions;
  • the duties and functions of an independent prosecutor (the Serious Fraud Office) faced with threats akin to blackmail by those alleged to be involved in the criminal conduct under investigation;
  • the use of 'national security concerns' arising from extortion by a third party to justify intervention to stop a prosecution.

The separation of executive (government) and judicial powers is at the heart of the UK's unwritten constitution and is central to the protection of citizens' rights against the arbitrary exercise of power by the government.