Tony Blairs Dilemma to Endanger 50.000 Jobs of Britons

By: Alison White

The cancellation of a ?10 billion contract with Saudi Arabia for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons threatens the jobs of 50,000 people in Britain.
As Riyadh has decided to broken off talks on extending the Al Yamamah arms deal, Tony Blair find himself caught in a dilemma. The Saudis decided to break up the agreement after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had sought access to some of the royal family's Swiss bank accounts and started to do some investigations over a bribery case under the 2001 Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act.
Although BAE has denied having contravened the Act, SFO is continuing the investigations, causing the Britain's biggest defence contractor the loss of the deal in favour of the French, who are offering the Saudis 36 Rafales.
The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Briton has brought BAE Systems and its partners more than ?40 billion for, ever since 1986.
Because of all this, the Prime Minister is dealing with a difficult decision.

He is being caught up between the decision of ordering to interrupt the investigations and therefore, to prevent the loss of 50,000 jobs of the people who he stands up for and also non-altering the relations with Saudi Arabia which is an important ally in the fight against terrorism. On the other side, he doesn't want the investigation to stop because there might be solid proofs that there were committed acts of bribery.
With respect to the matter, a precedent set by a former attorney general, Sir Hartley Shawcross it is being cited: in 1951, he told the House of Commons that it was not in the public interest for every suspected criminal to be prosecuted. But the problem for Tony Blair might be that his Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, appears willingly to let the investigation continue as he was ultimately oversight over the SFO.
Tony Blair is in the situation of choosing what aspects have the precedents: the economical one or the political. However his decision might be, one thing is for sure: he has to respect the law first. The problem is extremely difficult, as the Lord Goldsmith cannot put political pressure on the SFO to speed up the investigations and in the same time, these investigations are taking place in a time that is not at all propitious for the public's interest.
On the original agreement signed by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Britain it was specified that the two countries will sort out any difficulties over the implementation of the document. However, Britain has added a new factor in the 2001 Act when they opened the deal to investigation by criminal justice system.

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