Friday, May 02, 2008

Corner House & CAAT v SFO on BAe-Saudi Corruption heads for House of Lords

The High Court has given the Serious Fraud Office permission to appeal to the House of Lords in the case brought by The Corner House and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade relating to the SFO decision to drop the BAe-Saudi arms sales corruption enquiry.

In their judgement in the High Court on 10th April, Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan severely criticised the SFO's and the government's stance in the affair. From the Corner House:

"The High Court has formally quashed the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decision to drop its corruption investigation into arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. This follows the Court's ruling on 10th April that the Director of the SFO, acting on government advice, acted unlawfully in stopping its BAE-Saudi corruption investigation in December 2006.

The High Court also gave the SFO permission to appeal to the House of Lords, the UK's highest court, against their ruling of 10th April. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House, which sought the judicial review of the SFO decision, did not oppose this, because of the public importance of the legal issues raised, but all parties acknowledged that the SFO had not identified any errors in law in the judgment itself.

In granting the appeal, Lord Justice Moses said "This is a paradigm case . . . that relates to the way this country is governed and to basic constitutional principles."

The judges ordered the SFO to pay the costs of the judicial review so far (capped and agreed in January 2008) and, recognising the public service that The Corner House and CAAT are performing, also ordered the SFO to pay all reasonable costs of the appeal, regardless of the outcome, "win, lose or draw."

A joint press release gives more detail about the quashing and the appeal."

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