01 February, 2007

al Yamamah: the blame game.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, who finally ended the Serious Fraud Office's vendetta against BAE in respect of al Yamamah, has been talking about the case to the Financial Times. It is a long interview, long winded even, but it reduces to another statement of the blindingly obvious: it was not in the national interest to upset the Saudis.

The interview's main interest is that Goldsmith denies it was he that pulled the plug and blames the SFO itself.

I haven’t said to the SFO: “Don’t investigate.” And I really think it’s about time if only in fairness to the SFO, never mind me, that the director of the SFO has said very, very clearly, and his assistant director said very clearly to the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] in Paris this week, that it was they who took the decision.

You look strained. I know they have said the same thing to you because you have reported it. I didn’t pressure them. And I didn’t direct them. It was their decision. I have said on a couple of occasions now, precisely for the reasons you have given, that this is not entirely comfortable. I am confident it’s the right decision. I don’t mean in any sense it’s not the right decision. I believe it is and I will explain why.
I think it is time the Attorney General stopped telling breathtaking lies. The decision to drop the case was solely his responsibility and the SFO has said very clearly that it was forced into the decision. [Link corrected]

According to today's Guardian, Goldsmith was himself pressured into dropping the case by Tony Blair.

Over at Peace Journal, there is some unhappy but ethical hippies.

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