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Arms Trade: Al Yamamah

Volume 694: debated on Thursday 26 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the decision to discontinue the investigation into BAE Systems plc, in relation to the Al Yamamah defence contracts with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, involved choosing to take this course even if it would be in breach of the United Kingdom's obligations under Article 5 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. [HL4984]

The director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Government believe that the director's decision to discontinue the investigation was compatible with the OECD convention. This view is borne out by the finding of Mr Justice Collins, in refusing permission to seek judicial review of the decision, that the challenge was “bound to fail” and that “there can be no doubt that national security does trump other issues”. Further, the director's view was that the threat to national and international security from continuing the investigation was so compelling that he would have taken the same decision even if consideration of those matters had been contrary to the convention.