The Attorney General, on what’s obviously been fingered as a “Jo Moore” day, has announced that he is ordering the SFO to discontinue its investigation into possible fraud in relation to BAe’s Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. He’s bound to be criticised for this decision – fair enough. This does look like kow-towing to pressure from a foreign government. But if his maglie calcio critics suggest the system is wrong here, and that he shouldn’t have power to make this kind of decision, then I disagree.

Law enforcement does sometimes overlap with serious politics, and it’s not always clear in any particular circumstances that the “right” thing to do is prosecute suspected offenders. So it’s right that prosecutors should always have to consider whether what they’re doing is in the public interest. Where it’s suggested that a case is so sensitive that it would damage the UK’s diplomatic relationships, then I think only a lawyer who has access to all the FCO’s knowledge, and who knows the thinkin at the top of government, can make the judgment. So long as that lawyer is accountable to parliament for his decision, and so long as he is open about his reasoning – and however much anyone might disagree with what he’s said, Lord Goldsmith is accountable (although not directly to electors, of course, which is a pity) and he has been open – then I’m happy that he should be able to take the kind of action that’s been taken today.

In fact I think today illustrates very well what the Attorney General is for.

2017-03-18T03:17:58+00:00Tags: , , |