NAO plays down rift with SFO

The National Audit office has said it is cooperating with the Serious Fraud
Office over a report the parliamentary watchdog produced on the notorious £20bn
Al-Yamamah arms deal.

The SFO’s investigators made a request to examine the NAO report in April, in
the belief that it may help their investigation of claims that bribes were paid
by companies involved in the deal.

But parliament’s chief auditor, Sir John Bourn refused to release the report
to the SFO, on the grounds that it is a privileged document which can only be
released following a resolution by the House of Commons.

An NAO spokesman said: ‘In terms of the SFO we are fully cooperating with
The spokesman also pointed out that parliament was the owner of the report.

‘The report can only be released following a resolution of the House of
Commons,’ he said.

An SFO spokesman this week declined to comment on any progress in meetings
with the NAO or how long it may take to secure the report.

The report was present to the public accounts committee in 1992 but the
contents were never made public.

If released and used as part of the SFO’s evidence in a court case, the
details of the sensitive report could eventually enter the public arena.

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