Monday, July 28, 2008

BAe Saudi corruption case: appeal result due Wednesday

The House of Lords decision in an important case is due on Wednesday this week. The result of the Serious Fraud Office's appeal against the High Court judgement that they acted illegally in stopping the BAe-Saudi corruption inquiry will finally be settled. The Corner House says:

"Serious Fraud Office APPEAL to House of Lords

**Judgments to be handed down this Wednesday, 30 July 2008**

Back in April this year, the UK High Court ruled that the Director of the
Serious Fraud Office, acting on government advice, acted unlawfully when
he stopped its BAE-Saudi corruption investigation in December 2006.

The ruling followed the judicial review of the Director's decision sought
by The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The Serious Fraud Office appealed against this ruling to the House of
Lords, the UK's highest court, on two principles of law:

* the Rule of Law;
* compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The appeal was heard three weeks ago on 7-8 July.

Below is a summary of the main arguments put forward by the Serious Fraud
Office as to why the High Court's ruling should be overturned, and
responses from our lawyers as to why it should be upheld.

The relevant legal documents have all been posted on The Corner House

(Send us an email if you would like a more detailed account of the appeal
hearing: enquiries AT

We've just learnt that the judgments on the appeal from the five law lords
will be handed down this week, on Wednesday 30 July in the morning. We'll
let you know what they are as soon as we can.

Many thanks for all your messages of support; they are much appreciated.

best wishes from all at The Corner House


On 7th-8th July 2008, the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords heard the appeal by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against the High Court ruling on 10 April 2008 that the SFO acted unlawfully in December 2006 when it terminated its investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

The ruling was a result of a judicial review brought by The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) that was held on 14th-15th February 2008 at the High Court before Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan.

CAAT and The Corner House lawyers maintained that the Serious Fraud Office Director's appeal should be dismissed because his decision to stop the SFO investigation breached the constitutional principle of the rule of law in allowing threats/blackmail to influence his decision, and breached Article 5 of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (click Here to read our printed case).

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) submitted a second witness statement updating the Lords on the continuing US and Swiss official investigations into alleged corruption in the BAE-Saudi arms deals.

JUSTICE, the independent human rights and law reform organisation that is the British section of the International Commission of Jurists, intervened in the Appeal in writing to address the domestic legal principles by which the legality of a prosecutor's decision to halt a criminal investigation in response to a threat should be assessed, and the relevant international obligations at issue, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

As part of its appeal, the Director of the Serious Fraud Office submitted three new witness statements from:

  1. Dr John Jenkins, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  2. Helen Garlick, Assistant Director of the Serious Fraud Office (2nd witness statement)
  3. Robert Wardle, (now former) Director of the Serious Fraud Office

The two-day hearing was before an Appellate Committee of five law lords:

  • Lord Bingham of Cornhill
  • Lord Hoffman
  • Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
  • Baroness Hale of Richmond, and
  • Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood

The Appellate Committee will "report to the House [of Lords] in due course.""

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