February 1, 2007  

To the British government

For its scandalous decision to drop the corruption probe into the Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office was investigating allegations that BAE Systems set up a slush fund for senior Saudi Arabian officials to secure the 1980s arms deal. The Saudis threatened to drop a new $12 billion deal to buy BAE Eurofighter airplanes if the investigation into the old deal continued.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith’s claim that the decision was not connected to British commercial or economic interests defies credibility: One month after the SFO announcement, Saudi Arabia confirmed the Eurofighter deal.

As one opposition member of parliament put it: “How on earth can we lecture the developing world on good governance when we interfere with and block a criminal investigation in this way?”