Azara Blog: Tories agree with Labour about government powers to halt inquiries

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Date published: 2008/04/12

The BBC says:

The Tories have backed government plans for new attorney general powers to halt inquiries in the national interest.

The move comes after the High Court said the Serious Fraud Office acted unlawfully by dropping its corruption inquiry into the al-Yamamah arms deal.

The SFO is now considering whether to or not to re-open its investigation.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the question remained whether the al-Yamamah investigation was called off for reasons that were exceptional.

But he strongly backed the principle that governments should be able to set aside an investigation if there is a serious threat to national security.

Increasing the attorney general's power to do so is an element of the government's new Constitutional Renewal Bill.
The Liberal Democrats maintain that the attorney general should not get new powers, and want the SFO's investigation re-opened.

For once the Tories and Labour pretty much make sense. But of course the al-Yamamah investigation was not called off because of "a serious threat to national security", it was called off because of a threat to national jobs. But the government ought to have the right to consider that as well, although it would then also be sensible that the courts be allowed a judicial review of each case. And nothing being considered here would of course stop any international investigation of the alleged bribery.

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