Campbell challenges Blair over BAE scandal

Ming Campbell has challenged Tony Blair to make a statement to the House of Commons after the BBC uncovered evidence that the arms company BAE secretly paid £1bn to Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia in connection with Britain’s biggest ever weapons contract.

Last year, the Serious Fraud Office ended an investigation into BAE’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Ming said:

“When I questioned the Prime Minister about this issue in the House of Commons, he took full responsibility for the decision to discontinue the investigation into BAE. In light of BBC’s allegations, the Prime Minister must make a full and detailed statement to the House of Commons.”

You can listen to Ming’s interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme here (the item starts 9 minutes in; Ming features around 16 minutes in).

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2 Responses to Campbell challenges Blair over BAE scandal

  1. Pingback: Liberal Democrat Voice » BAE, corruption and more silence from the Conservatives

  2. Martin Alder says:

    This really is a odd business. As far as I know, you can ONLY sell to the Saudi Government via an agent. No agent, no contact and no sale. So, BAe or, anyone else who sells, ends up paying the agent’s fees. Is that corruption or just normal business practise?

    In the UK I suspect we would probably say yes, but in lots of countries, usually south and east of the Mediterranean, it is the normal way to do business. Of course, not anyone can be the agent, so there are ways and means to ensure that the “correct” agent is used for a particular task. Corrupt by our standards, probably yes By theirs, no, as that is the way is has always been done and will be done.

    So, unless Bae has corrupted a UK official to gain permission to sell some very advanced military hardware to the Saudi Government , then all that they have done so it appears, is do what everyone else has to do to carry out any dealings and sales to that Government. That is, go via an agent and pay the commission demanded so as to get the sale.

    The question of corruption or not, is an issue for the Saudis to resolve. Either ending the farce of the middlemen so common in that part of the world or, have sorted out the price and commission in a form more comprehendible by those who will see it from outside are both solutions that if applied to this would have ended the story.

    I have not read that anyone in Saudi is surprised or unaware that a commission was being paid and the choice of the aircraft was by them, not forced on them. Quite why anyone here is so surprised at the payments is a surprise to me.

    Perhaps a little research into other suppliers of any items for the Saudi Government or other ones in that area, would have been a wise move and put this whole affair into context.

    To pursue BAe would just seem to be penalising the UK for everyone else’s benefit.

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