26 November, 2006

al-Yamamah: for and against.

An update on the Saudi corruption probe concerning the alleged payment of bribes in connection with defence contracts under the so-called al-Yamamah agreement.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that, if the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) persists with the inquiry, Saudi Arabia will give the contract instead to France. Moreover, the free-spending Saudis will never again award a defence contract to a British firm.

The French obviously have a more realistic towards the international defence business than the UK, which is prepared to destroy a major industry just so some people, including Sunday Telegraph comment writers, can feel self-righteous.

In Friday's Daily Mail the ever-sharp Peter Oborne takes a more balanced look at the issues. Oborne sees it not as a criminal issue, but as a cultural and political problem, largely caused by an inept UK government. However, Oborne thinks there is still time for the Attorney General to resolve the issue by ending the SFO inquiry.

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