BAE trickery

IssueMay 2007
News by Albert Beale

The Campaign Against Arms Trade, with Corner House Research, has now lodged its full application for a High Court judicial review of the Serious Fraud Office's dropping of a corruption case against BAE Systems, Britain's biggest weapons producer. The corruption relates to a massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
The application was on hold pending other legal proceedings to stop BAE's access to CAAT's internal documents relating to the High Court case -- see the February and March PNs. CAAT has now forced the arms company to disclose at least part of the story about how it came to have a copy of the campaign's confidential legal advice.
Two BAE staff run a small separate company, which in turn paid a man called Paul Mercer (a friend of Tory front bencher Julian Lewis) £2500 a month -- using another front organisation -- to acquire information about CAAT. (Some years ago, BAE spent many thousands of pounds, over a long period, investigating and infiltrating CAAT.)

Merciful ignorance

If Paul Mercer is to be believed, he has no idea who sent him a copy of the internal document, even though whoever sent it knew that he was someone who would want it.
Evidence shows that the document came into the hands of the informant within half an hour or so of its circulation by email to a CAAT distribution list of committee members and staff; a copy on CD-ROM was then posted to Paul Mercer within about an hour, allegedly in an anonymous envelope.


CAAT is pursuing further legal remedies, but is meanwhile content that the leak from, or hacking into, its communications is now sufficiently contained to allow the main High Court case to proceed. The judicial review application is largely based on the argument that the dropping of the fraud investigation contravenes the UK's commitment to adhere to the OECD convention on bribery in international trade.
CAAT activists will be in action inside and outside the BAE company AGM on Wednesday 9 May - more support will be welcome.

Topics: Arms trade