We braved the snow to demonstrate outside BAE’s court hearing
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.
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).
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. Continue reading “Looking back with CAAT”
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.
On the 7th and 8th of July I went down to Parliament to watch CAAT and the Corner House return to court, this time for the Serious Fraud Office’s appeal hearing in the House of Lords. If you make it past security, agree to wear a little picture of yourself around your neck and meander round the stony labyrinth we call Parliament, you can sit in a little room with regal, furry wallpaper and watch the proceedings.
The results of this hearing – sadly not expected until October due to the Summer recess – will be crucial not only for CAAT and the Corner House, but also for the government. The case has brought under the microscope one of the main facets of Britain’s unwritten, tacitly approved constitution: that our legal system is, or should be, independent of the government. Whilst this is something that has been unanimously accepted as right for aeons, there are odd occasions when the principle is called into question. A decision on this matter is important as, having a legal system based upon precedent means that if a person can prove a particular principle in a British court, then it will open a gateway for all similar cases in future. Continue reading “House of Lords July ’08”
My BAE AGM virginity was about to come to an end as I entered the Queen Elizabeth Conference centre, where no expense had been spared on lavish security measures to welcome proxy shareholders like myself. The BAE chairman Dick Olver’s introductory statement included a shareholder-pleasing boast about a 13.3% proposed increase in the 2007 dividend. However, much of his presentation was devoted to this year’s hot topic, business ethics. He acknowledged the reputational damage that the whole SFO affair had done but kept stressing that “our” company had never been found guilty of any wrongdoings in four years of SFO scrutiny, conveniently omitting the fact that the investigation was halted just as it was making good progress unearthing useful details from Swiss bank accounts. Continue reading “BAE Systems AGM, 7 May 2008”
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. Continue reading “Back in Court – Appeal Hearing”
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”
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 !”