“BAE guilty plea a damning indictment of the Government”

So says Norman Lamb, who has campaigned for corruption charges to be brought against BAE since 2001, in response to the news that BAE admits guilt over corrupt arms deals … firm pays out £300m:

It is a damning indictment of the political interference by the British Government that the Americans have secured admissions by BAE on Al-Yamamah while we allowed them to get away with it.

I’m pleased that BAE has admitted its wrongdoing in relation to Tanzania and that the people of Tanzania will get some recompense after this outrageously unethical deal.

However, I’m deeply concerned that there are very serious allegations of corruption that are not being pursued. There is a very serious question mark over why there has been this apparent capitulation when allegations against individuals and the company were so serious.

The Guardian also reports:

In the UK, the admissions cover a highly controversial sale of a military radar to poverty-stricken Tanzania, which the development secretary Clare Short said at the time “stank” of corruption, but which the then prime minister, Tony Blair, forced through the cabinet.

The Serious Fraud Office said in its announcement yesterday that some of the £30m penalty BAE was to hand over in the UK would be “an ex gratia payment for the benefit of the people of Tanzania”.

In the US, the admissions include wrong-doing over the Al Yamamah arms deal, one which has been highly controversial for the Conservative Party too given its financial links with one of the key people in the deal. As I wrote before,

Wafic Said was a key figure in the highly controversial Al-Yamamah arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK. Allegations of corruption surrounding the deal were being investigated by staff at Britain’s Serious Fraud Office – until they were ordered to drop the investigation because it was supposedly against the national interest. Tough on crime? Only when it suits.

Although the Liberal Democrats – and Norman Lamb in particular – have been vocal in their criticisms of the Government’s decision to decide that arms deals corruption is a crime which doesn’t merit prosecuting, the Conservative Party has been noticeably silent through the controversy – despite normally being extremely averse to let pass an opportunity to criticise Labour over crime.

In part this may be because of the Conservative Party’s embarrassment at the deal having been signed when they were in power (and hence any initial corruption having taken place on their watch) but there have also been suspicions that the close links, including financial, between the Conservative Party and one of the key people in the deal have held the party back from daring to speak out.

You can catch up with Lib Dem Voice’s previous reports on this Labour/Tory arms scandal here.

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