For the past two years, the UK's Serious Fraud Office has been investigating allegations that BAE paid the Saudi royal family hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes to secure a multi-billion pound arms deal in the 80's. Today, the UK's Attorney-General pulled the plug. His reason?
It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest. No weight has been given to commercial interests or to the national economic interest.
And if you believe that, I have a lovely batch of Eurofighter Typhoons to sell you. But it gets worse:
The prime minister and the foreign and defence secretaries have expressed the clear view that continuation of the investigation would cause serious damage to UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation, which is likely to have seriously negative consequences for the UK public interest in terms of both national security and our highest priority foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.
Or, to put it another way, the Saudi kleptocrats who could have their funds cut off if the case proceeded threatened to withdraw cooperation in the "war on terror" unless the British government allowed a British corporation to piss all over British law and engage in corrupt and illegal practices. And the Blair government gave in, nakedly interfering to kill a criminal probe (in violation of clear constitutional convention) in order to appease its allies and guarantee the dividends of BAE's wealthy shareholders. Kindof shows you what both parties really care about, doesn't it?