Daily View 2×2: 2 October 2009

Two big news stories

BAE faces criminal charges over deals
The FT reports on a high-stakes court battle between BAE Systems and the Serious Fraud Office after corruption investigators decided to press for criminal charges against the arms manufacturer over its dealings in Eastern Europe, South Africa and Tanzania.

The SFO’s referral to the attorney-general will throw a hugely controversial case of alleged bribery back into the public spotlight after Tony Blair, former prime minister, intervened in 2006 following Saudi Arabian pressure to stop a probe into the £43bn Al-Yamamah deal under which Riyadh bought UK aircraft and other defence equipment.

The decision to drop that inquiry, which the SFO said it had made on public interest grounds, caused a furore. Critics accused Downing Street of caving in to Saudi threats to cancel a jet-fighter contract and withdraw intelligence co-operation.

Ministers on Thursday did not explicitly rule out blocking a prosecution again on public interest grounds. However, senior government insiders suggested that the economic interests and jobs at stake in relation to the countries involved were not on the same scale as the case involving Saudi Arabia.

‘President’ Blair waits on voters of Ireland
From the Times:

Tony Blair is in line to be proclaimed Europe’s first president within weeks if the Irish vote “yes” in today’s referendum.

Senior British sources have told The Times that President Sarkozy has decided that Mr Blair is the best candidate and that Angela Merkel has softened her opposition.

The former Prime Minister could be ushered into the European Union’s top post at a summit on October 29.

Two must-read blog posts

Tories: ban bananas, lest they make our daughters randy
Sara Bedford brilliantly takes apart “reactionary commentators pushing an agenda of misogyny and control.”

And while we’re on the subject of accessing vital information for our children’s wellbeing, Caron Lindsay helpfully provides us with:
Cervical Cancer Jab – where to get accurate information

“It’s important that anxious parents like me get balanced, evidence based information rather than a whole host of sensationalist tripe when we are making crucial decisions about our children’s future.”

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