SFO granted BAE appeal

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been granted an appeal to the House of Lords in relations to BAE Systems, the administrative court decided today (24 April).

The SFO confirmed it will be pursuing the appeal in relation to the High Court judgment on 10 April. The High Court had ruled that the SFO director had acted unlawfully when he stopped a corruption investigation into BAE Systems’ arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

In a statement the SFO said that the administrative court had allowed the appeal as there were “points of law of general public importance”.

“The basis for the decision to discontinue the investigation [into BAE] was the risk to national security if the investigation were to continue,” added the statement.

The decision to appeal the High Court ruling was made late last week by the former SFO director Robert Wardle and is proceeding with the full agreement of new fraud office director Richard Alderman, who took over the post last Monday (21 April).

SFO investigations into other BAE defence contracts in four other countries – South Africa, Czech Republic, Tanzania and Romania – are continuing unaffected.

The SFO was advised by the Treasury solicitors who instructed 11KBW’s Philip Sales QC.

Allen & Overy partners Jonathan Hitchin and Arnondo Chakrabarti advised BAE, instructing Matrix Chambers’ Clare Montgomery QC.

Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers and Philippe Sands QC of Matrix Chambers were instructed by Leigh Day & Co for Corner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade which brought the original proceedings.