BAE Systems's official position as the world's largest arms manufacturer should be a cause for national shame, not pride, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has said.
New figures published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) show that the firm, which has long been embroiled in allegations of corruption and bribery, now heads the list of the world's 100 largest arms manufacturers.
The Sipri report notes that BAE arms sales for 2008 were larger that the gross domestic product of 100 of the world's nations.
Yet the firm recently cried poverty after agreeing to pay out $400 million (Â£260m) to the US and Â£30m in Britain in plea deals aimed at preventing prosecution over its dealings with Tanzania and the multibillion-pound al-Yamamah Saudi fighter jet deal in the 1980s.
An investigation into the massive Saudi deal was concluded by the National Audit Office in 1992 but has never been published due to alleged reasons of confidentiality.
It is understood that an Act of Parliament would be required to allow publication of the report.
Despite numerous attempts by CAAT and other organisations - and an early day motion which attracted almost 100 signatures from MPs - the office's findings remain cloaked in secrecy.
In 2006 a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into al-Yamamah was scrapped after the unprecedented personal intervention of then prime minister Tony Blair.
The decision this year by the SFO to settle with BAE over the allegations of corruption in its dealings with Tanzania was condemned by CAAT and transparency campaign group the Corner House.
The two organisations launched a bid for a judicial review of the decision, arguing that the SFO had exceeded its authority.
That action was discontinued last week but speaking to the Star yesterday CAAT vowed to keep up its pressure on the arms giant.
Spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said BAE had become the largest arms company through ruthless profiteering and unethical dealings.
"For several years BAE has followed an aggressive acquisition and marketing campaign in the US and other so-called 'home markets' and has directly profited from US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said.
"Let no-one think BAE's ranking is good news for the UK. BAE is shedding UK jobs and is known worldwide for its unethical activities."
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