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Arms Trade Treaty conference: UK delegation silent amid evidence of “significant violations”

The second annual Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference was held in Geneva in August 2016. CAAT’s Parliamentary Coordinator Ann Feltham was there, and reports on how this new treaty’s progress compares to the hype.

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Stop Arming Saudi: decision time

This Thursday Campaign Against Arms Trade will be in the High Court challenging the Government’s decision to keep arming Saudi Arabia.

Image of Yemen destruction, saying the UK approved £7.7 million of arms sales to Saudi Arabia every single day since it started bombing Yemen

The hearing will determine if a judicial review will be granted to consider whether UK arms sales to Saudi are in violation of domestic and European arms export law.

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Activists on trial for trying to stop the DSEI arms fair

This week activists are on trial for taking action against the DSEI arms fair last September.

Yesterday, three of the defendants presented their case. All of them spoke at length about why they felt their actions against DSEI were necessary in order to prevent greater crimes.

Activists with a 'Stop Arming Israel' banner and waving Palestinian flags stand on an armoured vehicle

Activists blockade an armoured vehicle from entering the Excel Centre

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“The affair stinks but it doesn’t stink enough….”

Damning words from Judge Stefan Apostol. He was speaking in a courtroom in Vienna, at the conclusion of a corruption trial.

Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly

Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly. He’s laughing but we’re not – and nor are the Austrian judiciary.

Although the trial received almost no publicity in the UK, the individual on trial and the company behind his misdeeds were deeply linked with the UK.

In the dock was “Count” Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, popularly known in Austria as “Count Ali”. Aristocratic ranks were abolished in Austria in 1919 but erstwhile aristocratic families are reluctant to give up grandiose titles which it seems work wonders in gaining entrée into certain social and business circles.
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The abolition of slavery in arms

Drawing of a slave

"Am I not a man and a brother" – anti-slavery image

Henry Boddington explores the parallels between the slave trade and the arms trade and explains why ending the arms trade should be a priority for today’s world. 

In 1769  the slave, James Somersett was brought to England. He was the property of Charles Steuart a customs officer from Boston Massachusetts, then a British colony in North America. Somersett ran away in 1771 but was re-captured and imprisoned upon a ship bound for the British colony of Jamaica.  However, people claiming to be Somersett’s godparents made an application before the Court of King’s Bench for a writ of habeas corpus, and the captain of the ship was ordered to produce Somersett before the Court of King’s Bench, which would determine whether his imprisonment was legal.

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BAE – getting away with paying peanuts

Demo outside BAE court case

A giant Dick Olver, chairman of BAE, paying peanuts

BAE managed to escape with a fine of £500,000 plus costs in court today. Its plea bargain (worth £30 million) to end years of corruption investigations was structured so poorly that if the court fined more, this would be deducted from the amount Tanzania is to receive in reparations. The judge described “moral pressure” to therefore minimise the fine.

But it is heartening that the judge, like the rest of us, could clearly see through BAE’s story:

“..on the basis of the documents shown to me it seems very naïve in the extreme to think that Mr Vithlani was simply a well-paid lobbyist” Read more »

BAE – guilty not only of “accounting errors”?

We braved the snow to demonstrate outside BAE’s court hearing

CAAT outside court

Will a giant Dick Olver get away with paying peanuts?

Sub-zero temperatures didn’t deter us from voicing our anger outside court today. Arms company BAE was inside and set to get away with paying utter peanuts: buying an end to years of corruption investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). But it seems we weren’t the only people to spot injustice: the judge has so far not rubber-stamped the proposed plea bargain. He has instead postponed sentencing until tomorrow.

The SFO investigations involved allegations of corrupt payments of over £1,000,000,000 in nine countries. The proposed plea bargain on the other hand is a measly £30 million, admitting only to “accounting errors” in a single disastrous deal for Tanzania. Read more »

Justice should be HEARD by everyone

Westminster Magistrates Court

Westminster Magistrates Court

Kaye Stearman explains, as far as she is able, what happened when BAE pleaded guilty in court.
Tuesday 23 November 2010

9.45 – I arrive at Westminister Magistrates Court in Horseferry Road, a building with all the architectual charm of a multi-story parking lot and the security checks of a minor international airport. Read more »

Looking back with CAAT

At the start of 2010, Kaye Stearman looks back on events of the past year and what was achieved.

8 November 2008 – CAAT’s National Gathering at Conway Hall in central London sees the launch of the new “Armed & Dangerous” campaign to focus on the support given to arms exports by United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).

Kingsgate House Demo, 24 November

Kingsgate House Demo, 24 November

24 November  – CAAT holds its first demonstration outside UKTI DSO headquarters at Kingsgate House, Victoria Street, Westminster. Is it right for civil servants to act as arms dealers?

27 December onwards – Israel launches an armed attack on Gaza which continues for three weeks. CAAT highlights how British weapons and components are deployed and calls for a complete ban on British arms exports to Israel. Read more »

Reasons to be cheerful

So the Law Lords have overturned the victory CAAT and the Corner House won in April, declaring that the SFO was in line with the law when it closed a corruption inquiry after pressure from the government. They said this because it was decided amongst themselves that the law cannot be bent, unless ‘national security’ is perceived to be at stake.

Whilst it is clear that in theory we have lost, I urge you friends, campaigners and sympathisers not to be disheartened. We at the CAAT office don’t feel too bad, because we know that not everyone agrees with the Lords’ decision; and this is clearly exemplified by the plentiful coverage and debate there has been in the media throughout this week. If Wednesday had been just another day, another average judgement then that would not have been the case.

So we thank all of you, our supporters, for the help that we’ve been given and steer your eyes towards the disproportionately large silver lining of this small, just-passing-over cloud.

Below you will find Annabelle’s top three reasons to be cheerful.
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