Back in Court – Appeal Hearing

As everybody knows, truly great baddies never really go away but always return for an epic sequel. This time, part two will be played out in the House of Lords, as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has decided to launch an appeal against the judgement previously won by CAAT and The Corner House.

This next fight will be premised upon the SFO’s claim that ‘public interest’ demands the case is heard by the highest court in the land. Judges Moses and Sullivan agree, whilst CAAT people know that the dark side is always defeated in the end, one way or another, and so are happy to have the case heard again. As such, both tribes are laying down plans for the what is likely to be the greatest fight the Lords have ever seen.

The preliminary hearing for the appeal took place last week in one of the history-addled, cavernous rooms at the High Court in London. Anyone is welcome to attend any such hearing unless they are specifically closed to the public, and finding this one open to all I went along to watch the action live.
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High Court Ruling: Hot off the press

“You’ve arrived at a good time” I was hailed whilst I scanned the lunch table licking my lips in anticipation, and I suppose I had! Hello, my name is Todd, recent addition to the CAAT team in the capacity of a rather wet behind the ears media volunteer. So it was with some trepidation and considerable excitement that in only my second week on the job CAAT earned a landmark victory in court. As some of you will know, last week the High Court ruled that the Government acted illegally in preventing the Serious Fraud Office investigating accusations of corruption and bribery levelled at the paragons of morality and transparency that are the Saudi Royal family. The allegations in question concern a string of transactions relating to arms dealers BAE systems. BAE are a company who espouse more moral indifference to their stock trade than a fox hunter with sidelines in battery farming and extraordinary rendition flights. In a stunning and momentous blow against the power of Britain’s ever presidential executive Lord Justice Moses ruled that “no one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice.” The enduring pressure and hard work put in by CAAT and The Corner House had received an epic official justification.
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CAAT Press Conference As CAAT Wins Landmark Case Against Government

April the High Court handed down a ruling in favour of CAAT and The Corner House, finding that the government had buckled under pressure from a Saudi prince and unlawfully ended the investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding arms deals with Saudi Arabia. Given the landmark status of the Court’s judgment a press conference was held to field the massive media interest, and arriving early before the ruling was made public, the tension and sense of trepidation in the air was tangible.

Having never met a journalist before (never mind attended a press conference) I shared in the mood of nervous excitement as I helped to welcome and register the mixed bag of scruffy ruffians and suit-clad media people that would constitute our audience. Weaving through the throng I overheard a well-known journalist speaking on his mobile phone. He described the Court’s judgement as ‘withering’ and said he’d never heard anything like it. Despite the unassuming look of many, their tardy tendancies and willingness to squash into a room already packed to the rafters, journalists are tough. They often hold a lot of sway in whether and how the public recieves a story, and this press conference would be a crucial chance for CAAT to elucidate a stronger stance for supporters and answer back to critics. Representatives from two dozen media houses attended, reflecting the truly national implications of CAAT’s court case and maximising exposure for an important but oft-overlooked cause.
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Blackwater

The name Blackwater first seriously entered the popular consciousness on September 17th 2007 when 17 Iraqi civilians were shot dead by Blackwater employees, working as ‘security contractors’, in an affluent neighbourhood of Baghdad. The Iraqi government’s investigation found that, contrary to the claims of the Blackwater corporation, the security contractors had not been attacked. A parallel US congressional investigation, presumably quite well disposed towards the corporation given that it was the US government who had contracted out defence work to Blackwater, found that their use of force had been “excessive” and “pre-emptive”. Quite reasonably the Iraqi government asked that Blackwater and their men be held to account. Yet this was impossible because the US occupying forces had granted government contractors immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. However as subcontractors, rather than US government employees, they’re not subject to military discipline. In effect they operate in a complete legal vacuum.
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London CAAT Map Activism Award

A London CAAT map on platial.com has won a site award in the “Activism” category. The map, called London Arms Trade, shows the locations of the offices of weapons manufacturers and distributors in London.

When the local London group was set up, it was determined to highlight the immorality of the ‘defence’ industry. The map was created using CAAT’s resources and the British Defence Equipment Catalogue, to begin to pinpoint those involved in making London the capital of the world arms-broking trade.
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Can I interest you in any missile components today?

UK Students tell their universities it’s time to ditch their arms shares

On 27 February Students across Britain joined protests against their universities’ links with the arms trade. They called for an end to university arms investments. Students dressed as arms dealers roamed the campuses of University College London (UCL), Warwick, Manchester and other universities and tried to “sell” toy guns and missiles to their fellow students to raise awareness about the links between their universities and arms companies.

Student campaigners at UCL wearing black suits and sun glasses approached fellow students with the opening line “Excuse me, can I interest you in any missile components today ?” Many students, staff and prospective students, who had a look around UCL that day, stopped to sign a petition and to talk to campaigners about the continued arms investments.
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National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment, Wed 27th February

Just to let you know that the spontaneous meeting some students activists had at the CAAT National Gathering  back in November has now actually led to a National Day of Action on 27 February around lunchtime. Join us and campaign for ethical investment at your university.

Campaign Against Arms Trade and People and Planet will be helping coordinate a national day of action in protest against university shareholding in arms companies. The event was initiated by activists at University College London and Manchester University.

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UCL students graduate from the university of war

At the end of last term the Disarm UCL campaign put on a fake graduation ceremony to protest against UCL’s investment in arms shares. One student dressed as a military general handed out fake diplomas and toy guns to other students graduating in camouflage uniforms.

The action definitely turned a few heads including the one of the UCL Provost who happend to pass by. It was a fun action to put on and we got quite a bit of news coverage including the Times Higher, the Independent, the Evening Standard, the Guardian Comment is free website and the New Statesman website.

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Elvis, Aliens and the unlikelihood of BAE’s innocence

As part of the Control BAE campaign, London CAAT set up stall near Old Street station on Friday 30th November to call for the reopening of the Serious Fraud Office’s enquiry into alleged corruption in deals with Saudi Arabia. We chose the location because it was outside the BAE/HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) joint venture company located at 4 City Cloisters, 196 Old Street.

The main objective of the afternoon (in the absence of any media for our photo opportunity stunt) was to inform people in the area of the issues and get signatures on the petition to reopen the enquiry. In addition, we were able to point out the presence of an arms company to many surprised local residents and garner some interest in the local group.
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Disarm UCL campaign steps up the pressure

A quick update on “Disarm UCL” the campaign to get University College London (UCL) to ditch its arms shares.

The campaign is going very, very strongly at the moment. Last week was official “Disarm UCL campaign week” with full support of the Student Union.

We launched our new petition and got lots of signatures.

SIGN OUR ONLINE PETITION HERE
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