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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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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 »

BAE Systems AGM, 7 May 2008

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.
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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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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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CAAT wins again !

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!

 CAAT Control BAE protest in May

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!”:)
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Could you be the next Attorney General?

Many of us will agree with Lord Goldsmith’s own assessment that “it is a particularly appropriate moment for [him] to move on” but perhaps he would not concur with those who believe his next position should be on a bottom bunk in a cell. In case you are thinking of applying for the now-vacant position, here are a few questions that may help confirm your suitability for the post.

1. Which of these is the best way to be noticed?

a. Work hard as a barrister and then obtain extensive political experience.

b. Be friends with a friend of the PM and make a donation to the Labour party.

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Protest at BAE Systems AGM

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.

Tony Blair and Mike Turner silence a judge

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. Read more »

CAAT celebrates BAE defeat in court !

CAAT staff and supporters were down at the High Court yesterday. Some weeks ago one of Britain’s leading arms companies, BAE Systems, got hold of a confidential CAAT document and wouldn’t tell anyone how.

Well – now they have to :). The High Court ruled yesterday that BAE Systems has to deliver a sworn legally binding statement telling us how they obtained the confidential information.

It’s a great victory for us! Read more »