Britain drops arms investigation

Stephen Beard Dec 15, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: Britain has decided to stop poking its nose into a deal between a huge British defense contractor and Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Tony Blair was worried this fraud investigation would hurt relations with the Saudis. Stephen Beard reports from London.

STEPHEN BEARD: The inquiry had been investigating an old arms deal with Saudi Arabia .The allegation was that a British defense firm had paid bribes to the Saudi Royal Family.

The British investigators were ruffling feathers. They had reportedly gained access to a number of Swiss bank accounts.

The Saudis made it clear to the British government: Call off the corruption inquiry or you won’t get the next big contract to supply $12 billion worth of fighter planes .

Yesterday the British government called off the inquiry.

Opposition member of Parliament Norman Lamb:

NORMAN LAMB: I’m absolutely outraged by this decision. I think it is an incredibly depressing day for the cause of the rule of law. How on earth can you lecture other developing countries on the importance of the rule of law when we behave in this way ourselves?

The Government’s decision however has probably saved 5,000 British jobs.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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