Sunday, 4 October 2009

BAE and the corporate fascist state

The power of the corporate fascist state kills liberty and democracy ;

A senior MP was warned by the Serious Fraud Office that he might be the target of a bugging operation involving BAE Systems, the British arms firm facing a criminal investigation for corruption.

Liberal Democrat frontbencher Norman Lamb was advised by an SFO investigator they should meet in a public place rather than his Commons office to avoid their conversation being secretly monitored.

Mr Lamb, who has been pursuing BAE over corruption allegations since 2001, became aware of the suspected security breach when the investigator asked him at short notice to meet in the bustling atrium of nearby Portcullis House.

Documents seen by this newspaper show that Mr Lamb wrote to the SFO expressing concern that such monitoring might be taking place.

In a letter to SFO investigator Carl Brown, Mr Lamb said: ‘You will recall that when you arrived with your colleague from the MoD Police, I suggested we meet in my office.

‘You both indicated that you would prefer to meet in the open area downstairs in Portcullis House. You later explained that you had to work on the basis that my office might be bugged.

‘You explained that during the course of your investigations . . . that BAE Systems appeared to be aware of key findings and key information that you received as a result of interviewing witnesses. You indicated that you were left with the impression that they were able to listen to your interviews with potential witnesses.’

In the letter, dated June 5 last year, he said he was ‘horrified’ by any suggestion outsiders might be attempting to bug an MP’s private conversations.

Replying to Mr Lamb on July 14, Mr Brown wrote: ‘At that time, we were operating with an abundance of caution . . . it was considered prudent at that time to take such precautions.’
During the meeting, Mr Lamb handed over a file of confidential correspondence and research relating to allegations that BAE bribed Tanzanian officials over a £28million military air traffic control system that was eventually bought by the African state.

Mr Lamb said he regretted not having had his Commons office swept for bugs after the meeting, in the autumn of 2006.

He said: ‘I suppose I was left pretty incredulous at the allegation. My hope was it wasn’t true and that my office wasn’t being bugged. I didn’t [have it swept] because it might have alerted BAE that I knew they were bugging it. But I had hoped that it wasn’t true.

‘Extraordinarily, the concern the SFO expressed was that they believed that their investigation was being monitored, that conversations were being bugged.’

The allegation echoes a previous case involving BAE, revealed in April 2007, when BAE was forced to admit receiving an email belonging to lobbying group The Campaign Against Arms Trade which, unknown to BAE, had been obtained unlawfully by a third party.

It contained advice on a judicial review brought against the SFO for dropping its criminal investigation into BAE’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia in December 2006.

Mr Lamb added: ‘The suggestion the SFO had concerns a company was
bugging them is so serious it must be part of a public inquiry.’

An SFO spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on details of an investigation.’
A BAE spokesman said: ‘It’s an absolutely preposterous suggestion.’

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