back to article Courts slam Blair's 'abject surrender' to Saudi prince

The UK High Court has ruled that a controversial government decision to stop investigating allegations of arms industry bribery in Saudi Arabia violated both British and international law. Despite the judgement, it remains unclear whether the investigation will restart. The judicial review took place as a result of legal …


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  1. dervheid

    "it remains unclear whether the investigation will restart."


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aw, those funny judges

    I wonder if judges really think that they have some sort of power to stop the government doing stuff, whereas in reality they are merely a mild inconvenience that in some cases will cause the government to shrug its shoulders and go "bah, we don't really care that much, we'll drop it".

    On the one hand, they're (at least supposed to be) intellectual, dispassionate, analytical people. They're perfectly capable of counting up the number of armed, trained soldiers and police the government has to enforce its will (tens of thousands) and the number they have to enforce theirs (zero). From that they can work out that the relationship between the government and the courts is not "The courts say this, so we cannot do this" but "The courts say this, so given this extra impediment, we decline to do this even though we could".

    On the other hand, even intelligent people are capable of denial. Given the low suicide rate among judges I'm guessing they're as good at it as the rest of us.

    The point of this? What dervheid said in the first post and beat me to the short answer. If the state does not want an investigation, there will be no investigation, because it has the power to make sure there isn't and no-one else does.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Dumb Fools

    They bribed half the goverment, but forgot to bung a few million the Judges direction....

  4. Darkside
    Black Helicopters

    Is there a party I can morally vote for?

    We've got Labour, the corrupt party of Big Business, and Tory, the corrupt party of Big Business. And various wingnut groups like the British Nazi Party or UKIP. My area has no Monster Raving Looney Party so who can I vote for and not hate myself for doing it?

  5. John Macintyre
    Paris Hilton


    someone should be responsible? If they found it wrong, could they charge/fine them? Of course being the govt it'll become a fine, and it'll be from tax payers money which although i want them to suffer, not at my expense.

    how about since it was into Saudi allegations the person responsible can be given 50 lashes?

    paris, cause i'm sure she's had 50 X lashes before in her kinky past, if not future

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Oh for god's sake.

    As a general premise, investigations shouldn't be aborted before they're completed. However CAAT, (who the media bizarly seem to think has authority and jurisdiction in this case) won't be happy unless every word of this is chewed over.

    After about ten and a half years, and the inevitable conclusion of "not nice, but then neither is the world.". They'll probably huff and puff in the manner of Al-Fayad and claim that it still wasn't analysed properly...

  7. Matt Martin

    Is there a party I can morally vote for?

    I think that you'll find that the government will always get in, who ever you vote for!

    Although in between Labour/Tories and the wingnuts you've got the Lib Dems.

  8. Ferry Boat

    You say DESO, they say DASO

    DESO has been closed as you rightly say. Its role (flogging arms to foreigners) has been transferred to the Defence And Security Organisation. Yes, it's DASO. In fact the whole thing (including existing staff) has just been transferred out of the MoD and into the Dept. for Business and Enterprise with a new name.

    Anyway, halting the SFO investigation stunk at the time and still stinks. Nobody, including the government, is above the law. Oh, hang on, I've got that wrong obviously.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    The judiciary seems to be turning around.

    First they finally bagged that scumbag Pete Doherty now they declare this govt interference into an investigation illegal.

    What next? Charging the sociopaths that took us into war on false pretences? We can only hope.

  10. bertie bassett

    why do we care

    I'Ve always wondered "does anyone actually give a ....."

    So we bung a few quid to an Arab Prince to keep 10K + people in jobs, generate tonnes of revenue for our favourite defence contractor and to have a 'marquee' customer to help us sell more product to other places.

    Yes it's wrong, morally corrupt etc, but so .... what - it happen(s) the world over, in fact no doubt our friends across le manche are probably still doing it somewhere or other in some shape or form...

  11. Greg


    "Since the legal action was launched, the UK government has drafted legislation which would allow an Attorney General to close down such investigations as he or she saw fit on "national security" grounds."

    What a fucking shock. If the government isn't allowed to do something these days, they simply make a tenuous link to Teh Ev1l T3rr0rists!!!11!!1! and then carry on, thanks to those two wonderful words, "national security."

    Is there anything they couldn't link to terrorists? Let's give it a try:

    The reason they've stopped painting the Golden Gate bridge? One of the bridge workers could be a terrorist.

    That plane that came down at Heathrow due to engine failure? One of the engines was peed on by a man whose name sounded like "Osama."

    House prices? Well isn't it obvious? Estate Agents are being infiltrated by Al Qaeda to undermine our economy.

    Should I get in my car and drive to work, or will a terrorist have come round and let my tires down? FUCK YOU, BROWN.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    don't really care what the courts or the moralists have to say.

    Lots of people still have jobs thanks to the deal, jobs that otherwise would have gone to the sceptics. That's how business works at that level, you grease the wheels and get results. Or you don't, lose contracts, have larger unemployment, thousands go poor in your own country.

    "National security" in this case was far more about jobs then terror.

  13. Steve

    Re: Is there a party I can morally vote for?

    I'm considering starting a None Of The Above party for the sole purpose of having that option on the ballot paper - I just need £150 and a few forms filling out. Why try and steal voters from the main parties when so many people spoil their ballots precisely because "none of the above" is not an option?

    I'll be making myself party leader (although the preferred nomenclature is Overlord) and I'm looking for ministers to take responsibility for;

    1. World domination

    2. Shiny things

    3. Tea & biscuits

  14. Neil Hoskins
    Black Helicopters

    "...had effectively undermined the rule of law in the UK...."

    Oh, give me a break. What planet are they on? Like it hasn't already been undermined, collapsed, and jumped-up-and-down-upon by an illegal aggressive war, detention without trial, extraordinary rendition, torture and execution of prisoners, attempts to assassinate a de-facto head-of-state etc etc etc....

  15. Ferry Boat

    @anon cow and your "don't"

    So we should take action to create British jobs, no matter about morals?

    Follow that to its logical conclusion and you'll have us going to war to create jobs. Err.....

    Every other country should operate with high morals too, not just us. Err....

  16. Magnus

    Why do we care?

    Well, let us just say that some people believe that laws are actually useful (god forbid). The crucial thing is though that they are only so if as everyone can know what the law is and what law applies. In addition that everyone is judged by the same laws be they king or pauper (one thing that the high commander across the pond seems to disagree with...).

    A solid systems of laws and conflict resolution is one of the reasons why western society has been so opposed to countries where bribery and patronage is rife.

    So I for one should think that we should do our level best to make sure that we remain a country governed by the rule of law however personally convenient some politicians might find it if it were not always the case...

  17. Spleen

    Re: Darkside

    Write in "None of the above". Your ballot paper will be voided but it's the best you could do and should assuage any guilt you feel towards "your grandfathers who fought for your right to vote" or similar thought-terminating clichés spun by politicians who want large turnouts so they can feel validated.

  18. amanfromMars Silver badge

    What a Load of Right Royal Plonkers and Government Traitors

    "Nobody, including the government, is above the law. Oh, hang on, I've got that wrong obviously."

    Yes, you got that right, Ferry Boat. And that effectively renders the Law an Ass and Democracy a Sham...... and all for the Sale of WMD. Well, it will and does if Ma Broon doesn't take a Walk on the Wild Side of Life to precipitate a Crisis which he can watch from the Wings, freed to pull a few strings to make the City the undisputed Global Financial Centre for Virtually Everything.

    Carpe Diem, Gordon, the Old Orders are all in Meltdown. You know there is an Enigmatic XXXXIT Strategy Plan, surely. A BlockBuster Breeze of a DamBuster AIR&dD to save Face with ITs Amazing Grace.

    After All, it is not as if you can do anything about IT whenever the ProgramMIng is already Launched and Running Smoothly, is IT. Go with ITs Flow and Lead, there's a good Chap. England XXXXPects and all that. You know Tony is banking on you Bottling out again so that he can Prat around with all the has beens with nary a new idea between them. AIMODern Almed Forces have the Bases well covered for Virtualised Command and Control Mentoring ...... Benevolent Big Stick for Fools Monitoring.

    Or you can take the Alternate Root, and just Bend over and take It. Your Call to Define the Processing Route.

  19. Greg


    I'll do either World Domination or Shiny Things. I don't much like tea. ;-)

  20. John

    @ arms trade

    In a couple hundred years the arms trade will be viewed like we view the slave trade today.

    But until then consider corruption par for that course and go about your business.

  21. Dangermouse


    World domination - I'm your man.

    Already got the cat. And the scar on the forehead.

  22. John
    Thumb Up


    'I'll be making myself party leader [of None Of the Above Party]'

    Count me in.

    I'll be treasurer.

  23. John Imrie
    Thumb Up


    As the other positions have been filled, I'll do the tea

  24. Guy


    Words of wisdom for the last line of the post, I'm just amazed you've started to talk sense

  25. Mark

    What the judges CAN do

    Is refuse to see any cases.

    Without a court to sentence, there ARE no laws.

    If that's a bit extreme, just say that any government case will not be heard. If Fred takes Al to court for beating his brother up, that'll get heard. If the crown takes the case, it won't.

  26. Fred

    @ amfm



  27. Hollerith

    workers of Britain: just say no

    I remember a couple of decades ago when it was revealed that certain British companies manufactured torture equipment and restraint devices considered illegal in this and most countries. The justification for not letting the protesters close them down was that 'jobs would be lost'. About 200 or 400, I think.

    I couldn't see why we should want to support in jobs the sort of person who would knowingly take a job manufacturing torture equipment. I hope I would starve on the dole or clean floors before I would do such a thing, and I have been poor and desperate in my life.

    Is it not the same with BAe? Do we want to support these jobs? How much wealth do these jobs create for the nation, as opposed to the executives at BAe? Is it worth it?

  28. Ty Cobb

    @Greg, Steve and Dangermouse

    Aahh! I was hoping to get the Ministry of Shiny Things

  29. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Why we should care ...

    Sure the world's a horrible, nasty, corrupt place but we have the choice; we can either be upholders and supporters of what is right or we can be just like the scum we would otherwise complain about and step into their gutter.

    We can either hold and keep the moral highground, reject morality and ethics, or be hypocrites. At least the first two are honest. The third way, the UK Government's way, is just plain offensive.

    Mine's the one with $1m in unmarked notes in the pocket.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ bertie bassett

    Yeah but what happens is that bung was redirected to Osama and his mates bringing along the ironic situation that WE actually paid for the training and explosives that they used on us.

    Paris cause Im sure she knows something about BlowBack

  31. Dr. Mouse


    Count me in.

    I would say you need a Minister of Party Unaccepted Statutes on Safety in Yorkshire (P.U.S.S.Y.), and I think I'm your man :P

  32. Jax

    Bribe war!

    I think I read somewhere that this was part of the "bribe war" we had with the US, both wanted the contract and both started to give bribes to try to seal the deal (as this is perfectly standard way of doing business in places like Saudi Arabia, apparently).

    It was a big old contract so the government didn't want to lose it.

    To be honest I find it hard to find fault if the above was really the case, are you honestly telling me that it's better to walk away from a multi-billion dollar deal for the sake of bribery, especially if all parties are complicit? I mean if you do you've probably never worked in sales, which kinda underpins our whole economic system.

    At the end of the day if the Saudis (the client) don't care about the bribery then who is this really harming?

    The only issue is that Saudi officials have now started to attempt to bribe UK officials in certain instances thinking they want to play the same game!

  33. Dermot Bradley

    Re: Is there a party I can morally vote for?

    "None of the above" isn't an option to name a new party as, according to the Electoral Commissions guidelines:

    "The Registration of Political Parties (Prohibited Words and Expressions)

    (Amendment) Order 2005 prohibits the use of the expression ‘None of the above’ as

    part of a party name."

  34. jimvach
    Thumb Up

    7th August 2005

    Saudi Arabia officially warned Britain of an imminent terrorist attack on London just weeks ahead of the 7 July bombings after calls from one of al-Qaeda's most wanted operatives were traced to an active cell in the United Kingdom.

    Senior Saudi security sources have confirmed they are investigating whether calls from Kareem al-Majati, last year named as one of al-Qaeda's chiefs in the Gulf kingdom, were made directly to the British ringleader of the 7 July bomb plotters.

    One senior Saudi security official told The Observer that calls to Britain intercepted from a mobile phone belonging to Majati earlier this year revealed that an active terror group was at work in the UK and planning an attack.

    He also said that calls from Majati's lieutenant and al-Qaeda's logistics expert, Younes al-Hayari, who was killed in a separate shoot-out just four days before the 7 July bombings, have also been traced to Britain.

    From The Observer, 7th August 2005

  35. Brian Whittle
    Thumb Down

    Move along nothing to see here

    Big fuss about nothing its all about the bung with the Arabs or you don't get the work through, customs borders etc its whe way they ar

    The idiot lib dem leader says we now need a public inquiry good idea lets waste a few millions on something that wont lead anyway and was not needed in the first place

    Fu## the judges

  36. Ian


    I'll do tea & biscuits, there's a box of PG and half a packet of chocolate HobNobs downstairs

  37. Wayland Sothcott

    Re: Is there a party I can morally vote for?


    Well if it does not exists then you should stand.

    Oh and the possible reason for all the jet engine failures, chemtrails.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Can i be Minister for Climate Control, please?

    Then i can spend billions of taxpayers money changing the wind direction so that the Govt ( us ) piss downwind for once.

    What, you mean NuLabour are doing that already?

    And while i'm at it, is anyone aware of any rules that define when Labour is new or not?

    And seriously, why not go for it. I'm sure it would be successful. I'll stand in my constituency.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Whats the point of the law?

    Perverting the course of justice - isn't that what Karen Matthews is being charged with. Why not just let her go then?

    Bribery & corruption - I'm sure a lot of councils would operate alot smoother if this was allowed again. "Cream teas & concrete" anyone?

    With some of the attitudes displayed on this forum its no wonder kids have no respect for the law - they're just playing follow the leader. If they can get away with it, then its OK.

    Maybe Tony Blair and Gordon Brown claims of having a Christian faith need to be investigated by the SFO. Just in case they're lying. But then again, they're politicians.......and they never mislead the public.

    More ethical policies please New Labour, more. NOT. You've made it abundantly clear you're not interested in making the world a better place.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Brown government", the Blair government ....

    it's the same thing .. there was no election replacing one by the other from what I recall? They are the same government. Of course in the interests of fairness we should allow the current PM to state for the record that the members of the Cabinet under the previous PM were a shower of miscreants - without exception - or alternatively accept that this is the same government and under the convention of cabinet responsibility they all should accept that they had a part. Simply, the PM is primus inter pares; the cabinet as a whole - Chancellor'n'all - are the Government.

  41. James Pickett


    "carefully considering the the implications of the judgement"

    and then change the law to prevent it from happening again...

    I notice that Rose Gentle has just lost her case against the same scoundrels for getting her son killed in an illegal conflict. Bastards.

  42. heystoopid
    Black Helicopters


    Appropriate fitting quick death end to Tony "B" Liar's end run to obscurity whence it deserves to go as the most incompetent brainless plank to reside at number ten since time immemorial , since he decided that truth , justice , freedom and real democracy do not belong in Westminster !

    Now , if only the Law Lords did use the same big stick wave to another knight of the MET of similar surname to send him back to obscurity too , now that would be justice served in this 21st Century of Propaganda !

  43. CTG

    None of the above

    For some time I have been seriously considering running a "None of the above" campaign for the upcoming election here in NZ. Turn out even in general elections struggles to get over 50%, but the brainless morons we have in charge insist on behaving as though they have a real mandate from the people. I'm sure most of the people who don't vote are in the same position, so I want to convince people to turn out anyway, but just to spoil the ballot.

    Imagine if more votes were spoiled than went to any one party...

    Ach, the pols would just tell us off for being bad citizens and go on fucking everything up anyway.

  44. Robert Harrison

    Time to stick up the 'For Sale' sign

    on the border.. What do you mean we already have one?

    "I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy just doesn't work" - Kent Brockman

    I choose the green icon with Mr. Brown giving you a good smack in the gut.

  45. Richard

    @ Steve

    I'll join your party, but only so i can take the piss with my expenses and sit on my arse all day comming up with new ways to waste the countries money and help it slide down the slippery slope to complete crapness

    and before you ask, No i'm not an MP already


  46. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps someone ought to form a new political party...

    ...instead of just compaining about the existing ones.

  47. MarkW

    Arms jobs are subsidised

    AFAIK and I'm sure El Reg readers will tell me if I'm wrong, but aren't jobs in the "defence" industry heavily subsidised?

    Anyway, those Saudis are lovely. They supplied the majority of 11th Sept hijackers and women shouldn't be voting or driving cars anyway. Not to mention those British citizens who were fitted-up for a crime, tortured and made to confess publicly.

    Please Mr. Sheik, buy some more defensive Tornados.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shades of the prison house begin to close on Tony Blair

    Dropping the case against BAe was unlawful. Nobody is above the law. So who is going to be prosecuted for these unlawful acts, and when will we hear about it? If nobody is prosecuted, many of us will begin to doubt whether the rule of law still obtains in Britain.

  49. samtheengineer
    Thumb Down

    Well it was illegal...

    "Dropping the case against BAe was unlawful"

    Was is the operative word, as two weeks ago the govt created a law saying that the govt could stop court cases it doesn't like (as long as it blames it on threats to national security). So this judgement could never be reached again in future.

    And isn't threatening harm to a country's national security called terrorism?

  50. Ted Treen

    Who judges the judges??

    So even if Saudi Intelligence give us details of a plot, and names & addresses of would-be jihadis, our wonderful judiciary would refuse to let us imprison or deport them 'cos it would infringe their yooman rites.

    Isn't this enough to get most judges sectioned as they are palpably non compos mentis, and present a very real danger to the public in general.

    Mine's the one with the arrow pattern on it (or shortly will be, no doubt).

  51. Alistair

    Oh no it isn't

    @John: It is wrong to compare the global arms trade with the Atlantic slave trade. If you think they are the same you deserve to be clapped in irons and shipped out like those unfortunate Africans all those years ago.

    The only mistake we made was to start investigating this in the first place. Bribery is a way of doing business throughout the world. If the Saudis took some cash to secure a deal, it is an issue for them. We didn't break any of our own laws in transacting this business.

    Our problem is in liking to think we are whiter than white when we clearly are not.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    @Ted Treen

    Clear and present danger my arse!, more people die on the roads every year than have been killed in the entire history of so-called 'terrism' in this country. Don't fall for the propaganda, terrism is just an excuse to dismantle the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for.

    O RLY?




    NO WAI!


    Mines the one with lolcat behind bars.

  53. Ted Treen

    @Anon. Cow.

    I'm not restricting this to the jihadis:- the current judiciary's obsession with the yooman rites of ALL crims, perpetrators, illegals, feral yoof etc. to the total denigration of any rights the rest of us have to a comparatively peaceful existence IS a threat to the rest of us. I agree the other unacceptable threat is McStalin in no. 10 with his total obsession with centralised control freakery.

    An independent judiciary SHOULD be the safeguard of our freedoms and liberty, but the current incumbents just ain't cutting the mustard.

    It's little more than a bout of willy-waving between two cliques of the liberal elite who see the rest of us as mere fodder for their self-proclaimed intellectual ideas of social engineering.

    It can justifiably be described as intellectual masturbation:- giving a warm glow of self-satisfaction to the perpetrator; being of absolutely no use to anyone else; and being rather distasteful to any onlooker(s).

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Show some common sense

    If British contractors wish to work abroad, they are required to comply with local customs and conditions or they won't be selected. It's as simple as that. So the pragmatic decision is to comply. Bear in mind that many countries have entirely different cultures and values from ours, and consequently many things which may seem to be wrong to us do not to them.

    Anyone remember the 'Arms for Aid' issue some 25 years ago where The Times accused the Prime Minister of Malaysia of accepting a bribe from our Maggie. As a result of The Times refusal to retract, Malaysia completely stopped trading with UK and that trade went elsewhere never to be recovered. Tell me, what was gained? My friends in Malaysia could not understand our stupidity, and The Times reporter who broke the story carried no responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

    In the case of BAe and Saudi, if BAe had not complied with the local requirements, then they would not have been selected and the contract would have gone elsewhere such as US, France or even Russia. The aircraft etc. would still have been supplied. The same applies in many countries where any type of contractor wishes to tender for work such as construction, etc., etc.

    Do all the righteous posters here expect that we should just roll over and let other countries with less sensitive consciences get all the work overseas in countries with different practices from ours, in which case we would all be a bit poorer to no purpose. Or should we just do the obvious thing, act pragmatically and oil the wheels of successful overseas contracting.

    To the Liberal Democrats, I say you have lost my vote. Mr. Blair has my support in this, he was taking care of British interests.

    I speak as a well travelled construction engineer, not particularly in favour of war and violence to resolve things, but not a rabid pacifist either. After all, where would we be if we had not stood up to Germany in the second World War and subsequently to Communism?

  55. Ross

    Re: Show some common sense

    So basically your opinion is "don't rock the boat"?

    So if you were in Saudi and they were stoning a woman you'd jump right on in there and twat a rock off her head. 'cause you know, it's the done thing over there, and hell, you want that contract right?

    Or maybe you're out in China and some idiot is chanting some crap about human rights. I guess you'd beat that sucker with a stick 'cause that's how it works in China? I mean, getting a slice of that pie is what it's all about yeah? Think how much easier it'd be to get that contract signed when you're laughing over beers with the Chinese about how that guy begged you not to smack him upside the head.

    Yes, we would almost certainly have failed to win the contract, but common sense says you make a stand and try to make the world a slightly better place. You don't follow along like a brain dead little lamb - you grow some balls and do the right thing. It's your kind of attitude that is evident in todays youth that would sooner film someone being kicked to death than help them, because it's just so much easier.

    Frankly if BAe can't operate at a profit without tax payers money being used to bribe people then it can go to the wall as it deserves.

  56. Alex

    Re: Show some common sense

    "After all, where would we be if we had not stood up to Germany in the second World War and subsequently to Communism?"

    This sentence is mind boggling. A few points:

    1. We applaud ourselves for standing up to Germany when they were the aggressors. Now, we are the aggressors. Unless we are hypocrits we should be applauding the Iraqis defending themselves against our attack.

    2. What the hell does "stood up to Communism" mean? (Look out, there's a Red behind the cupboard!)!?

    3. The "that's how things work, so we have to play by those rules" argument is not very robust. Try applying it to the slave trade.

    4. (3) is very closely related to the "everyone else is doing it, so might as well do it too". Try applying this to muggers, car thieves, and other "undesirables" whom the Daily Mail encourages you to fear.

    5. The "it's ok, because we're doing it for our own benefit" argument doesn't even deserve critical comment.

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