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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Monday, 24 September 2007

When two stories collide...

There's been quite a lot of this recently. A month ago the heathrow climate camp brought together the ubiquitous Lawyer Timothy Lawson Cruttenden who was part of the campaign to stop the EDO Protests, and the Plane Stupid activists who feature as a separate story in the film. This week it seems that the extradition laws are now going to be used to target executives from BAE systems.

Even though Tony Blair shut down the serious fraud office enquiry into BAE Bribes with the laughable excuse of "National Security", it seems that the authorities on the other side of the pond are less corruptible in their corruption investigations. The US department of Justice has been investigating the BAE bribes to Prince Bandar, which he freely admits taking. As the £1 billion bungs were covertly facilitated by the Ministry of Defence, there is an increasing list of civil servants, MP's and Ministers (from both the Tories and New Labour) who are facing indictments in the US for bribery. Now if there was any sensible barriers to extradition from the UK to the US - for example having to provide evidence in a British Court - then New Labour would be spared the embarrassment of having several mandarins, ministers and BAE executives hauled off to the US in chains. However, thanks to the 2003 Extradition act, the US no longer has to provide any evidence to extradite a British National, and all they have to do is fill in a form and off they go. The Natwest Three story in the film showed how unjust and nonsensical these arrangements are. The Home office is now doing somersaults as it is in an impossible situation - unless it breaks it's own law it is facing the prospect of shipping members of her Majesties government off to the US for corruption. The most amusing development so far was when Washington made a formal request for assistance from the Home Office, which was unusually denied, as opposed to slavishly carried out. When questioned about this, the Home Office said that refusing requests from the US was "not without precedent", but then failed to cite a single occasion when they had not complied with a formal request before.

The news for the Home Office, MOD and BAE Systems keeps on getting worse. The same lawyers who successfully took a $7 billion suit out on behalf of Enron shareholders, are now representing a group of BAE shareholders who want to take their execs to task over the Bribes to Prince Bandar.

The latest rumour is that the government, petrified of upsetting BAE Systems and the Saudis, will desperately amend the extradition laws so that they can continue to cover up the biggest corruption case in British history. From our point of view it's a win win - either we see New Labour ministers and BAE execs banged up in chokey, or the monstrously unfair extradition arrangements with the US will be changed. Just a pity we can't have both.

2 comments:

CommonplaceGent said...

Not really win-win but win-lose or lose-win. Better than lose-lose, I suppose...

Taking Liberties said...

yeah, a bit like when the Hamiltons sued Mohamed AL Fayed, and you really wanted both sides to loose...

 
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