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Thursday, December 14, 2006 

British government ends investigation into Lebanese minister's corruption

The British government has made a surprise announcement that it is discontinuing its corruption investigation into Saudi-UK bribes.

It involves a contract for british fighter planes.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office was looking into claims that a senior member of the Lebanese government had bribed a British company on behalf of Saudi.

Saudi gave the UK ten days to call of the investigation. They threatened to cancel the contract for billions of dollars, and cut diplomatic relations.

The UK's justice minister Lord Goldsmith says he obtained the views of Prime Minister Tony Blair before coming to a decision

Billions of pounds were at risk, and he said: "No weight has been given to commercial interests or to the national economic interest."

"(The) continuation of the investigation would cause serious damage to UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation, which is likely to have seriously negative consequences for the UK public interest in terms of both national security and our highest priority foreign policy objectives in the Middle East."

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