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Arms Trade: South Africa

Volume 688: debated on Monday 22 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to instruct the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to stop investigations into arms sales to South Africa; and, if not, what are the differences between South Africa and Saudi Arabia which caused the Government to instruct the SFO to stop its investigations in the case of arms sales to the latter country. [HL1107]

There is no question of the Government giving any such instructions to the SFO, and they did not do so in relation to the SFO investigation with respect to the Al Yamamah programme with Saudi Arabia. As I made clear in my Statement to the House on 14 December 2006, the decision to discontinue that investigation was taken by the director of the SFO independently of government, on the basis of facts particular to the Al Yamamah contract investigations. The SFO's other investigations (including a number relating to BAE Systems) are continuing, and I have made clear to the director of the SFO that he should pursue those investigations vigorously.