“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.
Continue reading “High Court Ruling: Hot off the press”
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.
Continue reading “CAAT Press Conference As CAAT Wins Landmark Case Against Government”
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.
Continue reading “National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment, Wed 27th February”
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.
Continue reading “UCL students graduate from the university of war”
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.
Continue reading “Elvis, Aliens and the unlikelihood of BAE’s innocence”
Just a quick one to say how excited I am that CAAT and Corner house have won the court case last Friday :). The permission has now been granted to bring a full judicial review against the governments decision to cut short a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
That really is fantastic news!
Well done to everyone who campaigned for the SFO inquiry to be re-opened and thanks a million to those of you who helped me raise 280 quid on pledegebank for CAAT to go ahead with the legal challenge. The money really helped to make a difference. Or as my friend Masa put it: “That was 10 quid well spent!”:)
Continue reading “CAAT wins again !”
The reason why I have not been blogging for ages is simple:
I haven’t been around. Here are a few lines on the difficulties of being an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile:
Three months ago I left London for a research trip to Ukraine and that’s when things really started to get going:
Two days before my departure University College London, my university we had so desperately tried to persuade to ditch its shares in arms companies, quite unexpectedly announced that it wants to develop an ethical investment policy.
What an incredible campaigning victory!
Continue reading “Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile”
The Prime Minister’s statement of 25th July that the Defence Export Services Organisation, based in Bloomsbury, will be shut by the end of the year is a great success for the peace movement in general and Campaign Against Arms Trade in particular. CAAT’s Shut DESO campaign, which included encircling the building with a human chain in October 2006, culminated with the handing in of a petition calling for DESO’s closure with over 10,000 signatures to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.
I had signed that petition and got involved with the Shut DESO campaign because it was so obvious how wrong it was to have 500 civil servants in the heart of the government working for the interests of the arms trade. Continue reading “DESO down, DSEI to go”
The beginning of CAAT’s designated “Stop the Arms Trade Week”, 2nd June, coincided with activities organised under “The World Can’t Wait” banner and London CAAT produced a small leaflet to tie in issues of poverty, lack of development and the more than £1118 billion spent annually on arms, which puts into pathetic perspective the amounts the G8 promises and does not deliver to the world’s poorest countries.
A few of us headed down to Archbishop’s Park by Lambeth Palace and later to the banks of the Thames, to offer our support to the idea of “waking up the G8”. Dressed in white and packing alarm clocks, bells, horns and drums, the protesters were up for it. At 2:00, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, the banks between them and even boats on the river resounded with unheeded wake-up calls.
Continue reading “Stop the Arms Trade Week”
Just came back from the CAAT protest at the BAE Systems AGM. It was a great success. Before the start of the AGM we gathered in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.
Some protesters had prepared a stunt: One of us dressed up as a judge. Two others were dressed up as Tony Blair and as BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner. They grabbed the judge and gagged him.
The stunt was very popular with the media. There were loads of photographers taking pictures. Our stunt was also really popular with the tourists on their way to Big Ben. Continue reading “Protest at BAE Systems AGM”