Saturday, 10 November 2007

High court to review halted BAE-Saudi investigation

Published in GuardianUnlimited on 9/11/07,,2208451,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

Anti-corruption campaigners today won permission to bring a high court challenge over the decision to end investigations into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

Lawyers for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and the Corner House argued that the UK government's decision to cut short an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was unlawful under the OECD's anti-bribery convention, which the UK signed in 1997.

Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin, said "matters of concern and public importance" had been raised and the challenge "cries out for a hearing".

The £20bn-plus al-Yamamah contract with Saudi Arabia, which formed the focus of the legal challenge, was negotiated by the Thatcher government and involved the sale of Tornado jets made by BAE. Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia allegedly received a secret £1bn payment to facilitate the 1985 contract.

The government has denied any breach of the convention and declared that it took the decision to terminate the investigation on the grounds of "national security".

Tony Blair, the prime minister at the time the inquiry was halted, said that continuing the investigation would have jeopardised Saudi cooperation on counter-terrorism.

The campaigners' lawyers argued that the SFO decision failed to take into account the national security implications of not proceeding with the investigation.

They said that the government's willingness to turn a blind eye to corruption within Saudi Arabia had the potential to encourage more international resentment towards the UK.

Notwithstanding those arguments, the campaigners contend that Article 5 of the OECD's anti-bribery convention precludes the UK from taking into account the potential effect of an investigation or prosecution on another state - even where there was concern over its impact on national security.

The CAAT spokesman Symon Hill told Guardian Unlimited today's decision was brilliant "for everyone who cares about justice in Britain".

"It's great news for everyone thinking that BAE and the government should not be above the law that the rest of us have to follow," he said.

In September, the two countries announced a £4.4bn deal for the sale of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, also made by BAE, to the desert kingdom.

The same month, the UK government was accused of obstructing an American criminal investigation into the al-Yamamah contract by the US inquiry team.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Liverpool Council Disinvests from BAE

Liverpool takes the lead in curbing arms trade investment
Oct 30 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

AUTHORITIES across Merseyside are being encouraged to follow Liverpool’s lead in calling for the area’s largest pension fund to stop investing in arms companies.

Liverpool Council leader Warren Bradley is to write to the leaders of Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, and Knowsley for support in stopping the Merseyside Superannuation Fund from investing in the arms trade.

It comes after Liverpool Council passed a resolution which stated that “investment in the arms trade is not compatible with good corporate, social and ethical governance”

It comes after the Daily Post revealed in the summer that the fund currently has £13.6m linked to investments with firms that are involved in aspects of armaments trade, including BAE, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

The pension fund, administered by Wirral Council on behalf of all local authorities, manages an investment pot worth around £4bn.

Merseyside Stop the War Coalition, Mark Holt, who campaigned for the Council to adopt this policy, said: “People in Liverpool were appalled to discover that the Merseyside Pension Fund invests in arms companies such as BAE, Rolls-Royce and Boeing.

“Now Liverpool has given a lead to every other council in the country. Now we can hold our head up as next year’s Capital of Culture. We’ve shown that we’re also the Capital of Conscience.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman, Symon Hill, said: “We’re delighted that they have taken such a major step.

“It’s vital that other councils in Merseyside back this proposal and pull Merseyside Pension Fund out of arms companies.

A spokesman for Merseyside Pension Fund, said: “As a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, the Fund seeks to incorporate environmental, social and governance criteria in its investment processes and actively engages with investee companies.

“Consequently, it does not have a formal policy of excluding companies on ethical grounds.

“In the light of the motion, we will be discussing the issues with the Pensions Committee, whose ultimate decision it will be whether the Pension Fund adopts an ethical direction.”


THE AGM vote was won

Students call for shares sale

EDINBURGH University is under increased pressure to sell £500,000 shares in Total after a student vote.

More than 400 students packed the George Square lecture theatre for the student association's annual general meeting.

They voted in favour of putting pressure on the university to stop investing in Total, which runs gas fields in Burma, where there have been government crackdowns on pro-democracy protests.

The university has already sold shares in Nestle, BAE and British and American Tobacco, following similar student-led campaigns.

Gordon Aikman, EUSA vice president, said: "Hopefully we will see some real change, not only here in Edinburgh but beyond."

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

BBC Website reports Edinburgh TOTAL campaign

Students criticise Burma oil link

Burma has recently witnessed civil unrest
Students have called on Edinburgh University to withdraw a £650,000 investment in Total over concerns about the oil giant's involvement in Burma.
The university owns 16,640 shares in Total, which account for less than half of one percent of its investment fund.

A successful vote at the student AGM will see pressure put on the university to end its involvement with the firm.

The university has insisted that all its investments were socially responsible.

French energy giant Total is one of the biggest investors in Burma.

A spokesman for the Student Green Party said they did not believe owning shares in Total was in line with the university's ethical investment policy.

The University of Edinburgh's investment committee and the university's fund managers strictly adhere to a socially responsible investment policy

Edinburgh University spokesman

Past student AGM meetings have persuaded the university to embrace Fairtrade, to remove Robert Mugabe's honorary degree and to disinvest from the arms company BAE Systems.

A university spokesman said: "The University of Edinburgh's investment committee and the university's fund managers strictly adhere to a socially responsible investment policy.

"The university has in place procedures to consider any matters that are raised and the university court's approach is one of engagement with companies on ethical issues through our fund managers' corporate governance unit."

Total is the world's fourth largest oil and gas firm.

In 2005, it agreed to pay compensation to Burmese villagers who claimed they were used as forced labour during the building of a major gas pipeline.

It denied it was aware that forced labour was directly or indirectly used in the project.

Monday, 29 October 2007

University's ethics on trial

Press Release


University's Ethics on Trial
For Immediate Release

Edinburgh University's ethical and environmental record is to 'go on trial' at this years Student AGM. As the deadline passed at 5 o clock today, a record number of motions had been submitted, calling for greener accommodation, cleaner investment and more ethical checks on research.

The calls come following a number of scandals including the revelations that the university holds more than £500,000 of shares in TOTAL oil (the biggest funder of the Burmese regime), and an investigation by Stop the War Society that reveals that the university designs equipment for the Pentagon.

Second year Biology student Sarah Holliday said 'The University prides itself on its socially responsible reputation. We want to help them live up to that'.

Past AGMs have succeeded in getting the university to strip Robert Mugabe of his honourary degree, twin with Birzeit University in Palestine and become a Fairtrade University.

The vote will take place on the 7th November at 7pm in George Square Theatre. All students are welcome.


RBS Profits from Burma links

RBS ‘profits from Burma links’
By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor, Glasgow herald

Human rights groups claim stake in Chinese bank sees Scots company cash in on oil interests

ONE OF Scotland's premier international companies has been accused of "fuelling repression" by propping up the brutal military regime that rules Burma.

Campaigners allege the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), through its stake in the Bank of China, is collaborating with oil and gas firms run by the Burmese junta. As a result, they claim, RBS is reaping millions of pounds in profit from a regime that abuses human rights and pollutes the planet.

RBS controls 8.25% of the Bank of China, and its chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, is a director on the Chinese bank's board. The Bank of China is a key backer of two Chinese oil firms, Sinopec and PetroChina, which have been heavily criticised for co-operating with Burma's military rulers.

advertisementThe Bank of China, 70% owned by the Chinese government, is the world's sixth largest bank. In 2005 it arranged a $1.1 billion loan to Sinopec, and has pledged to underwrite a further $2.7bn worth of bonds for it next month.

Last month Sinopec began drilling an onshore oil well in a joint venture with the Burmese regime's Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. The official launch of the venture on September 26 coincided with the first day of the violent crackdown on civil dissent led by Buddhist monks.

Earlier this year, Sinopec signed a $1bn (£480m) contract for an oil pipeline and, between them, PetroChina and Sinopec operate many projects jointly with the regime. In August, Burma confirmed the sale of gas to PetroChina.

Now a coalition of three environmental and human rights groups has attacked RBS for its links to oil and gas projects in Burma. They claim RBS gained a "substantial proportion" of the Bank of China's $5.5bn profit for 2006. As Sinopec and PetroChina repay their loans, RBS is "banking profits derived from Burmese crude", they say.

"RBS's holdings are fuelling repression by financing fossil fuels in Burma," said Mika Minio, of the Platform environmental group in London.

Platform, with the Burma Campaign UK and BankTrack, will be writing to RBS this week demanding it take "public steps" to persuade the Bank of China not to support repression and human rights abuses in Burma. Failing that, they will urge RBS to sell its stake in the bank.

RBS, the world's 12th largest bank, has previously argued that diplomatic engagement with China is the best way to influence the communist state.

"Bank of China is a highly respected international financial institution," an RBS spokesman told the Sunday Herald. "Bank of China sets out its policies in its published accounts and we are happy with these policies and the way in which they are applied."

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

University's Burma link under attack

Published in Scotsman newspaper 23/10/07

STUDENTS have accused Edinburgh University of turning its back on ethical investment by supporting a French oil company with extensive links to the military dictatorship in Burma.

The Scotsman has learned that the university owns 16,640 shares, worth £647,219 in French oil company Total, which Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has described as: "the main supporter of the Burmese military regime."

Yesterday, a university spokeswoman confirmed 0.3 per cent of the university's portfolio was invested in Total but insisted it had a "socially responsible investment policy".

But the students say the university should withdraw its investments in Total. Dariush Bazazi, convener of the Edinburgh University Young Greens said: "We can't put profits before people, we have to put people before profits."

Friday, 19 October 2007

Ethical Investment - a means to an end - by Ric Lander

Ethical Investment: Ethical Consumerism for Institutions – A means to an end.

Universities hold many of the same characteristics as individuals – they manage an income, they make choices about their financial systems, and they spend money. Many NGOs have spent the recent years challenging the spending habits of individuals, institutions and corporations through schemes such as FairTrade. This has become so popular partly because it is blindingly obvious to people what's going on: you buy a shirt produced in a sweatshop and you're supporting that system, buy a chocolate bar from Nestle and you're handing profits to the baby milk demons. The same principal applies to the purchasing habits of universities, and of course, other institutions too.

Campaigns such as Ditch Dirty Development challenge consumers, in this case student account holders, to think about the effect their banking choices have. This, in a way, is the exact same principal behind Ethical Investment - instead of looking at the individual or institution's buying power (as with FairTrade) it challenges their saving power.

Corporations respond to user demand – this is, if you're asking Adam Smith, the great strength of capitalism – so called “consumer sovereignty”. Companies are required to maximise profit to survive and therefore if you increase the sales of the most ethical options they will be supplied more (this is of course the theory, not necessarily the practice, but go with me on this). As such ethical consumerism is very much a in situ solution, it accepts the economic system as it is. We may pay FairTrade farmers more but the capitalist will say the demand for FairTrade products is driven by consumers who value freedom from guilt as a much as they do taste.

The Big Goal

Therefore Ethical Investment, just like ethical consumerism, does not challenge the economic system. It works within it. Its goal must therefore be to effect change in the companies it targets.

If an institution, individual or corporation changes its buying or saving habits, this will effect the company doing the evil by altering its demand. This has been worked in the past as a means of effecting change, but rarely without additional action. Just as my lack of buying a Yorkie has little effect on Nestle's sales, if one university divests from BAE Systems it may go completely unnoticed (particularly true in relatively poor new universities). Thus, for the campaign to be successful and change the company it targets (or perhaps even bankrupt it) publicity and national coordination are crucial.

There is a great danger with an ethical investment campaign that highly dedicated campaigners could spend hours, weeks, even years slaving over the production of a policy which ends up being used by the University as an ethical Scout badge and has little impact on the true goal of changing corporate practice. Unsung heroes have no place in this campaign. I do not believe that Ethical Investment is an ends in itself – it should be used as a tool to embarrass corporations and put them to shame.

The Bonus

The other use of Ethical Investment is in connecting students with atrocity. We are often told we come from “apathetic” universities, but Ethical Investment sprouted popularity with uses of phrases along the lines of “it is awful that my money is being used in this way”. Just like other consumer-based campaigns, people feel that albeit indirectly, they are being made part of an unacceptable state of affairs. This “awakening” can have the potential to make all of the issues People & Planet campaigns on become front page, coffee break, conversation pieces. The media loves a story they can blame on specific, local people, because it makes it more accessible for Joe Nopolitics to comprehend. Tell a punter on the street that there's a company called Exxon-Mobil that denies climate science and is destroying the rainforest, and they'll probably say “I'm not surprised, but what can I do” - tell them money they pay is being funnelled into that company and they're much more likely to get a little angry.

So, Ethical Investment campaigning can influence the companies it leaves behind, and educate students along the way. But beware: as an end in itself, it can have a very limited impact. This only deepens the challenge set before groups of a campaign which can last years, and require extensive negotiation and attention to detail.

Am I wrong? Reply at

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

TOTALly unacceptable

Totally Unacceptable:

Edinburgh indirectly funds Burmese junta

Published in Student newspaper 16/10/07 by Liz Rawlings

THE UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh’s ethical investment credentials have been cast into serious doubt after it emerged that the university holds shares in oil company Total, a corporation who have been held responsible for fuelling the oppression in Burma.

An investigation conducted by Student has revealed that the University of Edinburgh holds overseas equities in the French company, a significant player in the funding of the military dictatorship in Burma.

Burma has been ruled by a military junta with a reputation for brutality for 45 years. The past few months have seen peaceful demonstrations in the country violently repressed.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), won 82 per cent of seats in Burma’s 1990 election, a result which was not recognised by the current dictatorship. The party has called on foreign companies not to invest in Burma because of the role investment plays in perpetuating dictatorship in the country.

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest by order of the ruling junta, has stated that “Total has become the main supporter of the Burmese military regime…it knew what it was doing when it invested massively in Burma while others withdrew from the market for ethical reasons.”

A recent report by Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), one of the largest financial services organisations in the UK, has put Total’s annual revenue to the Burmese regime at as much as 450 million dollars. The report also highlights human rights abuses by the oil company in the region and states that ‘Total’s investment in Burma has helped the regime to build its military capacity and its control of the country’s population. It has therefore impeded the prospect of democratic change.’

It is Total’s human rights violations and support of a brutal dictatorship which have led Edinburgh students to question their university’s commitment to ethical investment, a responsibility further undermined by the fact that Total had a stall at the Careers Fair last week.

Politics student Tim Gee told Student: “In the context of current events in Burma, I am appalled to see Total oil represented at the Careers Fair. Total has done more than any other European company to prop up the military junta, even colluding in forced labour and displacement of villages to do its work. I am further shocked to discover that the university has shares in this despicable company. These are not the actions of a university that cares about human rights and the environment.”

The exact number of shares which the University of Edinburgh holds in Total is unknown, but is thought to be a substantial amount because the latest annual financial report published at the end of 2006 stated that the university holds over 154 million pounds worth of shares across 81 companies.

The University of Edinburgh has a much vaunted, Socially Responsible Investment policy which states that "it is possible for any group within the University to draw attention to any investment held by the University that is considered ‘unethical.’"

The policy also states that ‘the key criterion against which specific cases would be considered would be whether the activity complained of was wholly contrary to the university’s value systems…or in regard to wider issues of social, environmental and humanitarian concern.’

Based on this criterion, students are likely to launch a campaign to get the university to disinvest in Total at the next Annual General Meeting in early November, an approach that has been successful in the past after student pressure led to the University of Edinburgh withdrawing investment in BAE systems, Nestle and British American Tobacco.

The recent findings have also prompted calls for the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) to appoint an Ethics and Environment officer.

The University of Edinburgh was contacted with regard to its investment in Total but did not respond.

Student newspaper http:
Burma Campaign on Total:

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Letter to University re Total

Dear Edinburgh University

I am particularly concerned about the investment in Total mentioned on the website and dated July 2006. Please see for more information on Total's activities in Burma,

If you do not have time to visit this site the following is of particular concern.

Financing dictatorship: TOTAL’s project provides significant annual revenue to the regime. Some sources estimate as much as $450million. Natural gas is now Burma's largest single source of export revenue, accounting for around 30% of export earnings in 2002/03. TOTAL’s investment in Burma has helped the regime to build its military capacity and therefore its control of the country’s population. It has therefore impeded the prospect of democratic change.

Human rights abuse: TOTAL was fully aware of the dangers inherent in deploying Burmese Army troops in an area where civilian families were living. The company was equally aware of its clear civil responsibility to protect the villagers in the pipeline area from these dangers. Despite this, the company opted to employ, through MOGE, the services of an Army internationally renowned for its extreme and unrelenting brutality. In doing so it unleashed a terrible and lasting devastation on the communities of the region and for this, TOTAL must bear responsibility.

I hope that the university will pull out of its investment in Total.


Friday, 5 October 2007

Edinburgh University Profits from TOTAL (itarian) Oil

Documents publically available at reveal that Edinburgh University has investments in TOTAL oil, major funders of the Burmese military junta.

Action must be taken!

Solidarity with Burma

Saturday has been made a global day of action for Burma with protests in 67 cities around the world. Following a meeting at the Peace and Justice Centre tonight we have planned a Candle-lit vigil in solidarity at the Aung San Suu Kyi tree (beneath the floral clock). THIS SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER. 3pm. Please WEAR RED.

There will also be a sponsored run on the Meadows in the morning see .

Please circulate this to all of your contacts, tell the press (press release below) and come along.

It will be followed by a discussion on how to take the campaign forwards, including asking Edinburgh council to disinvest in companies that invest in Burma.

Edinburgh Citizens in Solidarity with Burma
Saturday 6 October, 3pm, West Princes Street Gardens.

Edinburgh citizens are to take part in the Global Day of Action for a Free Burma this Saturday (6 October), alongside protests taking place in 67 cities around the world.

In the morning, a sponsored 5k run will take place on the Meadows, and in the afternoon there will be an eye-catching but solemn candlelit vigil in West Princes Street Gardens. It will take place underneath a tree planted there for democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi when she was awarded the Freedom of the City by Edinburgh Council in 2005.

Those attending the vigil will wear red in solidarity with the thousands of monks and others who remain under arrest and at risk of torture in Burma.

Ko Aung, a Burmese student leader from the 1988 demonstrations said, 'This day of action is to show that this crisis has not gone away. Our friends, families and spiritual leaders are in jail cells today at risk of torture. The UN Security Council must act now to end the crackdown and must keep focused on this crisis until we know the people of Burma are safe. The international community must not desert them now.'

Juliette Daigre, a Burma Campaigner based in Edinburgh, said, 'The public meeting organized on Thursday to plan Edinburgh's response to the situation was packed to the rafters. We want the people of Burma to know that Edinburgh stands with them, and to show the Burmese government that we are watching their every move. We also hope the protests will force the UK Government to do more to demand an end to the military crackdown and get the UN Security Council to act.'


1: For more information, please email or call 07788708673
2: Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the 'Freedom of the City of Edinburgh' in 2005 by the city council.
3: For more information on Burma and the Global Day of Action, please visit
4: For more information on the sponsored run, please contact
5: A petition will be signed and taken to the Chinese Consulate with the following text:
'We call on the Chinese government to pressure the Burmese Government to cease the violent suppression of the pro-democracy protests, release those detained, and guarantee their basic Human Rights. We also ask that the Burmese Government bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians'.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

THe University Of Edinburgh's Ethical Investment Policy - something to copy

The University of Edinburgh
“Socially Responsible Investment” – The Agreed Approach
1. It is competent, within the terms of the Trust Deeds, for the University Court to give the Trustees, and hence the Fund Managers (Baillie Gifford), guidance and indeed, instruction, on the way in which the endowment funds are invested. The Court recognises that compliance with such guidance could constrain the Trustees’ capacity to secure the maximum return on the endowment funds, and in such circumstances the Trustees may well choose to advise the Court of the prospective impact of any restrictions placed on their freedom of action.
2. The Court has endorsed an approach based on ‘engagement’ with companies on ethical issues through the Corporate Governance Unit operated by the Fund Managers.
3. The Court has also agreed that information regarding the companies and other funds in which the University’s endowments are invested should be published annually.
4. As a consequence of 2 and 3 above, it is possible for any group within the University to draw attention to any investment held by the University that is considered ‘unethical’. The Court has declared its willingness to consider such representations, subject to the following observations.
5. The key criterion against which specific cases would be considered would be whether the activity complained of (and substantiated) was wholly contrary to the University’s value systems either as reflected in the Mission Statement, the Goals and the Corporate Plan or in regard to wider issues of social, environmental and humanitarian concern. This would for example include, but not be limited to, human rights abuse, discrimination on grounds of race, gender or disability and serious and persistent environmental damage.
6. A possible approach could be for representations to be considered by the Court to the effect that the University should disinvest in categories of companies identified by reference to the businesses in which they are engaged. This has not been generally adopted, not least because the criteria for identification of such businesses would be matters of personal opinion. Rather, the adopted general approach is that expression of concern should be related to specific companies whose activities or values appear, on the basis of clear evidence, to be so far removed from the University’s core values as to give grounds for serious concern. Cases would normally only be considered if brought forward by representative bodies such as EUSA or a recognised trade union, or via the University’s committee structure. However, in 2004 a proposal that the University should disinvest in the tobacco industry was made, and was accepted by the Court as an exceptional case in view of the impact of that industry’s products’ on health, in the context of Edinburgh being a major centre of medical research.
7. The mechanism for considering such cases would be for them to be considered by the Central Management Group in the first instance. If brought forward by EUSA, the President would attend for discussion of that item. CMG would be expected to take into account the current extent (if any) of the Fund Managers’ engagement
with the relevant company on the matters complained of. It would be for CMG to decide, on Court’s delegated authority, whether they were sufficiently strong grounds to warrant engagement with the company through the mechanisms established by the Fund Managers where this was not already in hand, or to request strengthening of that engagement if already active.
8. CMG would be empowered to raise matters with the Trustees and Fund Managers without need for Finance and General Purposes Committee’s/Court’s endorsement. Its decisions in regard to whether to do so in individual cases, whether positive or negative, would be reported to the F&GPC and the Court. The Fund Managers would be asked to report back, giving clear details as to any action that had been taken, so ensuring accountability. CMG would communicate these matters to F&GPC and Court as appropriate.
9. It is acknowledged that a situation could arise in which ‘engagement’ did not assuage serious concerns raised about a particular company. In those circumstances it might be concluded by the Court that the Trustees should dis-invest. The Trustees would no doubt wish to make the financial consequences of such a decision clear to the Court.
10. CMG’s requests for engagement are normally be transmitted to the Fund Managers via the Trustees. However, because the Trustees only meet twice a year, it is possible to ask the Fund Manager’s Corporate Governance Unit to pursue a matter at fairly short notice (e.g. at a forthcoming company AGM). In such circumstances a request for engagement should be passed from CMG to the Convener of the Trustees who would communicate it to the Fund Managers after such consultation with the Trustees as was practicable in the circumstances.
M D Cornish
University secretary
Based on proposals adopted by the University Court in July 2003

Article in Edinburgh University Student newspaper

Edinburgh City Council is to consider copying the University of Edinburgh by implementing an ethical investment policy.

On Thursday, the council will vote on whether to adopt a set of checks and regulations regarding its investments around the world. The plan would see a ban on council money being used to support companies which damage the environment or infringe on human rights.

Many universities and councils have come under fire for putting profits ahead of ethics when choosing investments. In 2003 the University of Edinburgh bowed to pressure from environmental and human rights groups and introduced an ethical consultation procedure when considering investment opportunities.

In June the Edinburgh Green Society launched, an online blog dedicated to forcing the city council to review their policy. Student campaign leader Dariush Bazazi said: "Most councillors opposed the war in Iraq, yet freedom of information requests show that they are reaping the profits by investing in arms companies such as BAE Systems."

The movement gained support from groups such as Amnesty International and People & Planet as well as Edinburgh writer and Guardian journalist George Monbiot. Edinburgh City Council has significant investment in the arms manufacturer BAE systems, a company which is regularly attacked for its involvement with dubious political regimes.

Mr Monbiot said of the current situation: "At present, the council’s money is being used to underwrite the means by which large numbers of people are killed or mutilated. If I were drawing a council pension I would be extremely unhappy about the idea that my money was being squeezed out of other people’s blood."

Friday, 28 September 2007

BAE faces US lawsuit over Saudi allegations

BAE faces US lawsuit over Saudi allegations
By Stephen Foley in New York
Published: 21 September 2007
The storm over alleged corruption at the British arms supplier BAE Systems took a new legal twist, as one of America's most aggressive law firms launched a lawsuit against executives of the company.

Mike Turner, chief executive, and the rest of the board are among the defendants in a legal action filed in Washington, along with Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who is alleged to have received hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes as part of BAE Systems' agreement to supply military aircraft and other equipment to Saudi Arabia.

"Through a systematic abuse of national and international anti-corruption laws, coupled with a flagrant disregard of their fiduciary duties, BAE current and former executives have caused serious and lasting damage to the company and undermined its competitive position," said Patrick Daniels, an attorney at Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, which has launched the lawsuit.

"BAE's reputation is in tatters and there are huge, and still unanswered, question marks over its corporate governance standards. Through this lawsuit, the directors and executives will be called to account and held personally liable for their actions." BAE has denied making any improper payments, and moved to shore up its reputation in June with the appointment of an independent ethics committee. Prince Bandar, too, has denied the allegations.

The Serious Fraud Office called off an investigation last year, citing national security concerns. BAE said it hadn't been given prior notice of the lawsuit and hasn't yet been served with the claim, but it "intends vigorously to defend any such proceedings".

The lawsuit accuses directors of "intentional, reckless and negligent breaches of their fiduciary duties of care, control, compliance and candour in relation to the company" and of repeatedly misrepresenting how they were running BAE.

The plaintiff in the case is the City of Harper Woods Employees' Retirement System, a public pension scheme in Michigan, which holds a small BAE shareholding.

Indonesia's Arms debts

Jubilee Scotland will be holding a vigil against Indonesian arms debts from 14th -19th October in Edinburgh outside St. Johns church on the corner of Princes St. and Lothian Rd. The vigil will take place between dawn and dusk and will include music, information and a chance to learn about the campaign to cancel Indonesia's arms debts.

On each day there will be a different focus and the vigil will culminate by delivering a petition gathered at the vigil to Alistair Darling's office.

On the 17th October (International day for the eradication of poverty) we invite you to take part in Stand Up Against Poverty as part of a global day of action against poverty

Please come and show your support


Pop along at lunch time, on your way to or from work, or to take a break from shopping. But do come and either take part in the vigil or just to see what we're up to!

Dates for your diary

Dates for your Diary

Thursday 04th October, there will be no meeting in the chaplaincy, because of 3 other interesting events happening

1 - Rabiya Kadeer, Chinese Human Rights Defender will be speaking in the Playfair Library. 7pm. More info at

2 - Green Councillor Alison Johnstone will be speaking at the Quaker meeting house on the subject of 'Green Schooling'. 7pm

3 - Human Rights activists will be gathering in St John's Church Hall, Princes Street, to discuss how to respond to the situation in Burma. 6pm.

Friday 05th October

Come to see John Peel favourites BALLBOY playing at the LOT, Grassmarket, a fundraiser for the Scottish Greens. Tickets from Word Power £5 or on door.

Thursday 11th October

Artistic Activism - Making cardboard weapons for Council Stunt. Helena's House, 3f2 52 Marchmont Crescent TBC!

Thursday 18th October. 7pm Potterow Chaplaincy.

Letter Writing to BAE Systems

Wednesday 24th October. 1330

Dr Thein Lwin a Burmese educationalist who will speak at the Scottish Parliament International Development Group in October. This is a public meeting on 24 October at 1330.

Saturday 03 November

After the Scottish Parliament has voted that they don't like Trident on principle, this is a public march to make them act on it. March and rally organised by Scotland's for Peace. 1130 Assemble Scottish Parliament; 1200 March off; 1300-1400 rally at Ross Bandstand, Princes Street. Speakers Patrick Harvie MSP (Green), Phil McGarry (STUC),Morag Mylne (Church of Scotland & Osama Saeed (MAB).

Thursday 15th November. 7pm. Potterow Chaplaincy.

Public Showing of Ethical Investment film as part of Edinburgh Charities Week 2007.

Human Rights in China, Saudi, and Edinburgh

It is a busy time for Human Rights activists.

Monks are on the march in Burma. Preparations continue for the Beijing olympics including the razing of housing, and not allowing Trade Unionised firms to build. Torture continues in Saudi Arabia. Tanzania and Indonesia are still crippled by debt from arms sales.

Meanwhile British companies continue to sell arms to China, and indirectly, to Burma (via India). An investigation in to BAE corruption in Saudi has been stopped by the Labour government because 'it would damage our relationship with the country (!)', British diplomats are trying to stifle a US fraud investigation in to BAE, and the British government refuses to drop debt from arms, despite pretending it has cancelled third world debt!

Locally, the Edinburgh Council continues to profit from arms sales, thanks to an amendment by the Liberal Democrats and SNP.

There has never been a better time to get involved in Human Rights activism.

SNP Councillor: Pensions 'to make as much money as possible'

Many thanks for your e-mail. As I am sure you are aware, I voted for the Lib Dem/SNP amendment at the full council meeting last Thursday. While I commend the sentiment behind the Greens motion, we have to look practically at what can be done. The Pensions & Trusts Committee exists to make as much money as possible for pension holders and by investing only in ethical companies you would not necessarily represent the pension fund members. It was also pointed out at the council meeting that ethics is extremely subjective and that the council is required by statute to gain the best return for pensions fund members, not to invest in ethical companies. The validity of point 6 in the motion was also disputed as Cllr Chapman claimed she had been told by council officials that this was the case while other councillors had been given different information. There are a number of examples of councils (including Edinburgh) being taken to court under circumstances like these so while the sentiment should be applauded, it is not a viable way of changing anything. As a result of the above points I decided to vote for the amendment.

Councillor David Beckett (SNP)
Ward 11 - City Centre
Room 10/28
City Chambers
High Street
Phone - 0131 529 3271
Fax - 0131 529 4080

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Public Sector Union Supports call to end pensions investment in arms trade

Call to end pensions investment in arms trade

(19/06/07) UNISON's national conference opened this morning with a united call from delegates to end arms investments by local authority pension funds.

"The human cost of the arms trade is immense," said Manchester local government branch's Wendy Allison, "and the scale of pensions involvement in that trade is phenomenal.

"The money going into arms is shameful; it is disgusting."

Conference noted that a survey undertaken by Campaign Against Arms Trade in 2006 revealed that the 99 UK local authority pension funds invested at least £723 million in military-producing companies and weapons manufacturers.

There were compelling moral arguments against such investments, delegates agreed.

They noted that arms companies profit from exporting weapons to conflict zones including Iraq and Afghanistan, to areas of tension such as Pakistan, to human rights abusers such as China, and to countries like South Africa, with huge development needs, diverting resources from spending on health and education.

Furthermore, investments in the arms trade are incompatible with UNISON's aims and objectives, conference noted.

"By allowing our pension funds to invest in arms we are undermining all the good work done by the union," said Salford rep Matthew Egan. "We are shooting ourselves in the foot."

Young member Rebecca Taylor agreed: "Bullets and bombs shatter the lives of innocents around the world. "My pension investment in the arms trade makes me feel like I'm pulling the trigger."

One member nearing retirement age pointed out she didn't want to receive a pension that's contaminated by the blood of others. Though pension fund managers have a serious legal duty to be fiscally responsible, they also have a moral duty to act ethically, she said.

And Colm Magee from the NEC explained it is possible to take your duty to fund-holders seriously and make sound ethical decisions. The UNISON pension fund, of which he is a trustee, has introduced a policy to ensure the fund makes socially responsible investments, and screens out investments in the arms trade.

Conference also instructed the executive to ensure UNISON reps on local authority pension funds are trained in social, environmental and ethical investment.

A timeline of BAE Corruption

Timeline: BAE corruption probe

Arms deals with Saudi Arabia have been worth billions to the UK
The furore over the SFO's decision to drop a corruption probe into a £6bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia is the latest twist in a 20-year saga.

Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine signs the first phase of the Al Yamamah arms deal with the Saudi government.

The deal covers the supply and support of Tornado and Hawk jets and a massive airbase construction programme, and is estimated to be worth £50bn.

A further formal understanding concerning Al Yamamah is signed between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Tornado jets fly alongside RAF Tornado bombers in the First Gulf War.

May 2004
The Guardian newspaper alleges that BAE Systems has won the deal with the aid of a secret slush fund.

It claims Ministry of Defence police are investigating payments totalling £60m made during the course of the Al Yamamah deal by BAE Systems.

November 2004
BAE Systems confirms it is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), but strenuously denies any wrongdoing.

December 2005
BAE Systems confirms it has agreed to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Eurofighter jets.

Talks to finalise the deal continue throughout 2006.

1 December 2006
French planemaker Dassault confirms it is in talks to sell the Rafale, a key rival to the Eurofighter, to Saudi Arabia.

BAE Systems admits that talks with Saudi Arabia over the Eurofighter deal have slowed down.

14 Decempber 2006
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, announces that the SFO is dropping its investigation.

6 January 2007
Saudi Arabia's Defence Minister Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud says the country is looking forward to gaining delivery of the 72 Eurofighter jets "very soon".

17 January 2007
OECD says there are "serious concerns" about the British probe being dropped.

29 April 2007
MPs warn that Britain's reputation for fighting corruption may have suffered "severe damage" because of the dropping of the fraud inquiry.

7 June 2007
A BBC investigation finds that ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan - who negotiated a £40bn arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia - received secret payments for over a decade.

Prince Bandar "categorically" denies receiving any improper payments and BAE says it acted lawfully at all times.

8 June 2007

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, denies claims in The Guardian newspaper that he concealed from an international anti-bribery watchdog the existence of secret payments to a Saudi prince.

11 June 2007

The BBC learns that Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, will head an independent review of business practices at BAE.

26 June 2007

BAE says it is the subject of an anti-corruption probe by the US Department of Justice that will look at its compliance with anti-corruption laws including its business "concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

BAE contribute to Tanzania's debt

by Deus Kibamba of the Tanzanian Gender Networking Programme

Another scandal is rooming in a country so poor that resources are hardly available for social services even as key as education, health and water. In the new row, involving a well established UK bank and BAE, the UK’s biggest arms supplier, Tanzania was robbed off $ 12 million (more than 15 billion Tanzanian shillings) being the amount secretly paid out as commission to middlemen in the deal.

In this deal, BAE Systems allegedly inflated the price tag of a controversial military air traffic control radar system from an estimated $ 28 million to $40 million representing a figure close to 30% of inflated costing of the contract value in a single deal. This appears to be one of the most serious corruption cases that faces Tanzania today.

Even more controversially, sources link outgoing British premier Tony Blair with the deal, prompting the government of Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete in Tanzania to propose a compensation demand from the UK if it was proved that the military radar system the UK sold to Tanzania was overpriced. It is said that despite the World Bank’s opposition to the deal, following its own research that showed the BAE radar system was unsuitable and that a similar system as cheap as $10 million would be more suitable, the then UK prime Minister, Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw continued and backed the sale amid informed opposition from Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer and Claire Short who was Minister for International Development. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office has for some months now been carrying out an investigation into the public row, which has sparked serious parliamentary and public debates in Tanzania.

Within Tanzania, the former president Benjamin William Mkapa and some aides are under serious public pressure. Despite agitation by civil society against the purchase, Mkapa was said to be pushing for it. His then Minister of Finance Basil Pesambili Mramba was quoted commenting on the purchase of the radar equipment to point that if the deal meant it, Tanzanians would rather eat grass than stop the purchase of the radar and another tender for the acquisition of a presidential gulf-stream jet. All this was between 2001 and 2004.

To acquire the radar, Tanzania had to borrow money from the Barclays Bank to finance the purchase. Reports have it that there are countries that acquired same type of the system at a cost less by 45 percent. These include Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey. Without the purchase’s defence from the highest circles of the UK government many people believe Tanzania would not have entered into the flawed transaction. This amount enters into an already huge debt of more than $7.2 billion that Tanzania owes the world despite a debt relief under HIPC. How different is this from the traditional odious debts that Tanzania would wish to denounce?

According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in January 2007, there has been admission by the middlemen that BAE secretly paid the $12 million ‘bribe’. The Bank of Tanzania reports the figure for Debt servicing as amounting to 9.8 million dollars in the quarter ending in December 2006. This raises lots of serious governance questions both in the UK and Tanzania especially the fact that the British Aerospace System is a British government owned firm. What is the relationship between Tanzania and the UK in as far as trade is concerned?

One thing is clear that the war against poverty that Africa is waging is next to impossible if international corruption can not be curbed. Tanzanians now are having to spend huge sums to service ‘odious debts’ at the expense of education, health and water, to name only a few necessary social services for Millennium goals to be realized come 2015. The people of the UK must support Tanzanians in shaming such deals!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Ethical Investment for Edinburgh Council: Why are BAE Systems bad company?

Ethical Investment for Edinburgh Council: Why are BAE Systems bad company?

Ethical Investment Campaign Blocked by Liberal Democrats

Ethical Investment Campaign Blocked by Liberal Democrats

The campaign for Edinburgh Council's pension fund to disinvest from arms company BAE Systems was blocked last night by the Liberal Democrats.

Green Councillor Maggie Chapman's motion calling for an ethical investment policy was replaced by a Liberal Democrat counter-motion calling for a ' balanced and properly diversified investment portfolio', erasing all references to BAE.

This comes despite the company's record of providing weapons to Zimbabwe, Colombia, Indonesia and Israel, as well as for the recent war in Iraq. Stunningly, it also runs directly counter to Liberal Democrat conference policy.

The campaign has however made a major breakthrough - the Green motion was supported by the Labour group, whose fund manager refused to embrace ethical investment when Labour were in power last year.

To plan what to do next please come to the Potterow Chaplaincy, 7pm, Thursdays! and/or join the facebook group .

To view the Green motion please click here and see item 10.4 .

Thursday, 13 September 2007


Thursday 20th September. 7pm.
POTTEROW Chaplaincy
Bristo Sq Edinburgh
'The Global Arms Trade and Edinburgh Council'

Speakers include

John Watson, Director, Amnesty Scotland
Julian Parrott, Director, Ethical Futures
Maggie Chapman, Green Councillor for Leith Walk Ward

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Ethical Investment expert JULIAN PARROTT on the council's investment choice

City stake in BAE is not ethical

EDINBURGH City Council makes great play of its positive policies. It has gained Fair Trade status for the city, many of its Labour administration have expressed opposition to the war in Iraq and it has developed a corporate social responsibility policy for its investment role within the Lothian Pension Fund. It is therefore surprising to see that an apparently progressive council is under pressure for its investment in British Aerospace Systems (BAE).

Why is there such concern about BAE? It employs 2000 people in Edinburgh, generating jobs and revenue. Surely a positive investment for the city? The problem with BAE is that it manufactures weapons, and not only for HM Forces. It makes and markets its weapons to Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and Indonesia to name just a few.

These countries are high on the Amnesty International register of oppressive regimes. Integrity for a company in this business is crucial, but last year BAE was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in relation to corruption in its dealings with the Saudi Arabian authorities.

Although this inquiry has been discontinued, BAE is still under investigation by the SFO regarding defence contracts in other countries.

Despite this, the city council has accepted a role for socially responsible investments in pensions management, and one has to ask is the investment in BAE just a question of profit over principle? BAE is profitable - it recently declared profits of £1.05bn. Much of this business is underwritten by the Government, and it's no coincidence that an upturn in fortunes has coincided with the Iraq war. Despite this, the "defence" sector as an economic element is not an important part of the UK economy, representing just one per cent, so the effect of omitting such a small sector is negligible to performance.

When considering ethical investment, the critics will often suggest it's too risky or it's impossible to screen effectively. But I'd rather the council sought to use the power of its money and consider the positive benefit that an ethical policy could have.

Money "talks", and when you invest in a company you have a vote on its activities. Today, more than £6bn is invested ethically in the UK investment market, and ethically invested money is increasingly impacting on the decision making processes of big business. If the current level of investment, mainly from private investors, was combined with large institutional funds, such as Edinburgh Council, we could really start to make some progress.

Establishing strong negative screening criteria may prove difficult for an organisation such as Edinburgh City Council, but surely there are some clear no-go areas for products such as arms and tobacco. Investing in sustainable industries of the future is surely the lead that an institution such as Edinburgh City Council should be taking.

A first step in this direction would be selling BAE and sending a clear message to the world that we don't want blood on our hands.


Councils lose money from not investing ethically

Unethical Investment

An interesting article from

Socially Responsible Investment: Councils lose money by not investing ethically
Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 04:53 PM

Council pension fund's holding of shares in weapons manufacturers brought a poorer return in 2005 than if the money had been put into ethical investments.
Growth in the FTSE4Good Global 100 index, a leading tracker of ethical investments, was more than 50% greater in the past 12 months than the rise in BAE shares. The usual council excuse is that the pension fund has to achieve the best possible investment returns for its members. These figures showthat investing in BAE makes poor investment sense as well as being immoral. BAE shares ended the year 10.6% higher than a year previously, as institutional investors cynically welcomed the government's decision to order the Serious Fraud Office to end its investigation into bribery allegations against the weapons manufacturer.

However, the FTSE4Good Global 100 index did much better, surging more than15% during 2006, justly rewarding people who chose to invest in a principled way. Some other measures of ethical investment even outshone theFTSE4Good Global index, depending o­n the method of calculation. The DowJones EURO STOXX Sustainability 40 has soared more than 26% in the past year. The FTSE4Good Global Index achieved a similar outperformance against theFTSE 100 index of leading UK shares, which gained about 10% in 2006. The more narrowly-focussed FTSE4Good UK index also did better than the FTSE 100,with an 11% leap, despite the limited number of companies in the UK from which the index's components can be selected.

The UK has trailed behind other European countries in developing ethically acceptable and environmentally friendly industries, undermined by attitudes such as that of the Barnet Council pension fund. This means that Britain is still lagging behind in obtaining the economic benefits that such industries are now bringing to more forward-looking countries, both in terms of job creation and return o­n investment. For instance, Denmark is home to Vestas Wind Systems, the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. Vestas employs 11,900 people and has seen its share price more than double this year, to €229 from €104.5. If council pension funds adopted a more ethical policy, such as the UN guidelines, it could achieve a double benefit of improving the fund's investment returns and, if it invested in appropriate UK companies, it could help encourage faster growth in ethical business sectors in this country.

Council pension funds should to scrap their current immoral investment policies and adopt the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Further BAE/government corruption

UK tries to sabotage BAE Systems bribes inquiry - report

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - The UK is covertly trying to oust the head of the world's main anti-bribery watchdog to prevent criticism of ministers and Britain's biggest arms company, BAE Systems, according to a report in The Guardian.

The report said efforts have been made to remove Mark Pieth from his position as the chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These moves come as the OECD has stepped up its investigation into the British government's decision to kill off a major inquiry into allegations that BAE paid massive bribes to land Saudi arms deals.

The Guardian claims that at the OECD meeting in Paris last month, British officials tried to stop Prof Pieth addressing a press conference at which he announced his agency was to conduct a formal inquiry into the government's decision to terminate the BAE investigation. They then privately briefed other diplomats involved with the OECD, saying he should be removed, according to the report.

However, concern about the conduct of the British diplomats apparently filtered back to Pieth, who was cited by The Guardian as saying that he was aware of the attempts to remove him.
'I am aware that the British ambassador was asking at the time for action to be taken against me,' Peith told The Guardian.

In recent weeks the UK has demanded that OECD officials should be prevented from making any future statements about the BAE case while the inquiry is ongoing. But, according to the report, the UK failed with this request.
'The British do not have support from anyone else on this,' an OECD source told The Guardian.

Monday, 23 April 2007

First refusal

The Labour party's representative dealing with investments has flat out refused to invest ethically after the election on May 03. In a statement to the press she said this is not something she would do.

We know it's possible - councils did it during apartheid, and universities and churches and other organisations (Amnesty International for example) are doing it now.

This campaign is designed to give whoever is in power in the council after May the political will to go ahead and do the right thing.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Council candidates back ethical investment policy at Leith Walk Hustings

In answer to a question from the floor at Edinburgh Leith Walk Hustings regarding the council's investment in BAE Systems, responses were as follows

Green - Yes we will disinvest, and as Greens have done whevever they are elected to councils, push for an ethical investment policy, and invest in more positive things.

Labour - Yes, I understand there has been some discussion of this

Conservative - I have suffered under Robert Mugabe, and its shocking a british company would sell to him. However council workers also need good pensions, so I agree as long as it doesn't cost them too much.

Lib Dem - Yes

Solidarity (Scotland's Socialist Movement) - Yes, and we will build alternative industries so that workers can work for things which are designed to sustain the planet not destroy it.

SNP - We are thoroughly opposed to Trident, so I guess we would support this too.

Letter printed in Evening News 16/04/07

Letter printed in Evening News 16/04/07

Give BAE systems a very wide berth

BAE Systems have sold weapons to some of the most brutal regimes in the world - including Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Colombia - as well as profiting out of the increased demand for weapons that arose out of the Iraq war.

I hope that Edinburgh councillors will disassociate themselves from this company.

Tim Gee, Dublin Street, Edinburgh

Monday, 16 April 2007

This is a leaflet from a student careers fair earlier this year

Think twice before you work for BAE systems leaflet

Iraq and Afghanistan make BAE extra profits

Profits top £1bn as BAE cashes in on US


BAE Systems, Britain's biggest arms manufacturer, has unveiled profits of more than £1 billion just months after the government quashed a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe into the business.

Operating profits jumped 33 per cent for 2006, from £761 million to £1.1bn, driven in part by booming US business from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its shares jumped 4.3 per cent to 466.5p.

Orders increased to £31.7bn, mainly due to US demand for land vehicles and arms and contracts to support the Tornado fighter aircraft. The company, which unloaded its 20 per cent share in Airbus in May, also reported good progress in Saudi Arabia, the market about which it faced severe pressure last year due to long-standing corruption allegations.

But Vincent Cable, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, immediately condemned the results as "utterly artificial".

He said: "The company's profits depend on major, UK government-supported, export contracts - around which there are unresolved allegations of corrupt commission payouts and pending prosecutions - or on favoured contracts for government procurement."

It was in December that BAE became the focus of unwelcome headlines around the world when the government ordered the SFO to halt a major criminal investigation into allegations that it paid bribes to Saudi officials in return for orders. The government, claiming it was on the grounds of national interest, was heavily criticised over the decision by, among others, international anti-corruption agency the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development.

The SFO investigation into the Saudi contracts had led to fears that the company could lose a 72-jet order for Typhoon aircraft from the kingdom.

BAE has denied any wrongdoing. Chief executive Mike Turner said BAE maintained the highest ethical standards and would co-operate with any requests from the SFO, which is still investigating past BAE dealings in South Africa, Tanzania, Romania, Chile, the Czech Republic and Qatar.

In a reference to the government decision to pull the investigation, Turner told financial analysts: "Following the problems during the autumn, the contract negotiations for Typhoon, including a time table for delivery, are progressing."

In a wider comment on reports of corruption investigations facing the company, Turner said the allegations were "all unsupported by evidence. We have been clear and consistent in denying any wrongdoing".

He said there was still a major opportunity in "supporting the partnership" between the UK government and Saudi Arabia, playing a key role in upgrading the kingdom's armed forces.

However, much of its growth is now coming from the US on the back of a series of Homeland Security contracts and deals to support the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. BAE's order book is fuelled mainly by contracts in its North American land and armaments business.

BAE completed the sale of its £1.8bn stake in the struggling planemaker Airbus last October. Some £500m is being used to fund buybacks but BAE reiterated that the balance will go back into the business.

The full-year dividend is going up 9.7 per cent to 11.3p per share.

Web link

BAE Systems

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Amnesty, WDM, Jubilee, CAAT and candidates from Greens, Labour and Libdems back campaign in letter to Scottish newspapers

Dear Sir,

We write to offer our support for the proposal for Edinburgh Council to adopt an ethical investment policy. This would mean that if councillors or members of the public are unhappy with the actions of a company in which the council has shares, this may be voted on, and shares withdrawn. Many universities and churches across the country have taken such principled actions. We challenge Scottish councils to do so too, and council candidates to declare whether they support such a route of action.

Yours truly,

Ruth Cameron, Convener, Scottish Young Greens
Malcolm Chisholm, Labour Candidate, Edinburgh North and Leith
Gary Dunion, Green Candidate, Central region
Janet Fenton, Co-ordinator, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre
Robin Harper, Convener, Scottish Green Party
Liz Law, Chair, Edinburgh Campaign Against the Arms Trade
Ben Miller, Convener, Edinburgh People and Planet
Maureen Moore, Director, Ash Scotland
Julian Parrott, Ethical Futures
Kirstie Shirra, Director, World Development Movement Scotland
Mike Pringle, Lib Dem candidate, Edinburgh South
Ben Young, Director, Jubilee Scotland
John Watson, Director, Amnesty Scotland

Friday, 13 April 2007

George Monbiot throws weight behind campaign

Dear Tim,

Thanks very much for this.

I support the campaign by Edinburgh students to persuade the council to stop investing in BAe Systems and other arms companies. At present, the council's money is being used to underwrite the means by which large numbers of people are killed or mutilated. If I were drawing a council pension I would be extremely unhappy about the idea that my money was being squeezed out of other people's blood.

With my best wishes, George Monbiot

SSP support campaign

Thanks for your e-mail which has been passed to myself for a response.

The SSP as a party - as well as its individual council and Parliamentary
candidates - are more than happy to support the campaign of Edinburgh
University students to bring pressure to bear on the City Council to adopt
an ethical investment policy.

The successes already achieved at the University demonstrate that this
could easily be accomplished by the incoming council. We hope that we will
have a few councillors after the election to add their support to your
campaign but in any case will do whatever we can to achieving this
admirable objective.

If there is any way in which we can offer assistance to the campaign at a
local or Parliamentary level please do not hesitate to contact me

Wishing you and the campaign success.

Yours Sincerely,

Bill Scott
Senior Parliamentary Researcher
SSP Group

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Anti-debt campaigners against BAE


The Serious Fraud Office is investigating allegations that a huge bribe was paid to lock the Tanzanian government into buying a military radar from BAE Systems. The World Bank said that the radar was useless and overpriced. Debt relief promised at Gleneagles was used to pay for it.

Well-placed politicians have suggested that this scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. With its large investments, perhaps Edinburgh City Council could persuade BAE to lift the lid on what's going on.

Ben Young
Jubilee Scotland
41 George IV Bridge
+44 (0)131 225 4321
07913 040 877

Campaign wins support of Edinburgh Peace and Justice Resource Centre

From Edinburgh Peace and Justice Resource centre

The Edinburgh Peace and Justice Resource Centre is glad to see
that the City Council is being urged to end its £2m holding in BAE Systems. (Tuesday, Edinburgh Evening News) In addition to considering the effect of arms sales to brutal regimes, councillors should also bear in mind BAE’s undue
influence on Government policy. Almost unbelievably the Serious Fraud
Office was compelled to abandon its investigation into how BAE secured
a big arms deal with Saudi Arabia. One reason for the decision to replace Trident could be that BAE needed the contracts: - otherwise its workforce might have drifted away to more constructive and peaceable employment.

The whole arms trade is at odds with efforts to create a sustainable world order,
does not deserve investment, and is completely unacceptable to many employees of the City Council as well as to many of those who pay the City’s Council tax.
BAE is notorious, no matter how often its name is changed.

Janet Fenton

Ethical Investment makes you money!

UK: Ethical investment fund tops performance of UK stock market funds
A News item from Business Respect, Issue Number 107, dated 9 Feb 2007

The Co-operative Insurance Sustainable Leaders fund has become the best performing unit trust in the UK over the past year - the first time an ethical fund has achieved pole position.

Recent years have seen such funds growing in popularity, with 10 new funds launched last year. They have had a mixed record, with some years seeing relatively poor performance compared to other funds. However, this year sectors that the ethical funds avoid, such as tobacco and gambling, have been underperforming.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007


1. Why do councils such as Edinburgh invest in arms companies?

Since the “war on terror” many arms company share prices have sharply risen as defence budgets have increased and new orders have come in.There is often nothing preventing councils from investing in the arms trade. Without ethical investment policies expressly prohibiting such investments, pension managers will see their fiduciary duty to maximize profits as their one and only concern.

2. Who is to say which companies are ethical and which aren't? Where do you draw the line?/ Ethical criteria are too tricky to define and apply to an investment policy, so what's the point?

A council’s investment decisions rely upon the information and instructions that the finance director receives. Ethical concerns can form a part of this process as there are recognised frameworks for socially responsible investing - and for ascertaining institutional values.

Pension managers can be instructed to weigh ethical and financial considerations and the evidence from the size of the UK ethical investment market (£17bn screened + £280bn under 'engagement' instructions), and its positive performance shows that many do so successfully.

3. Do we really think that by getting one council to withdraw it's shares in a company that produces weapons that this will stop the arms trade? Someone else will buy them and nothing will have changed.

When an institution invests in a company it confers upon that company a credibility that would not otherwise have existed. Taken in isolation, one council divesting from the arms trade will have a small impact, but as more universities divest and are seen to be able to manage quite well with alternative investments the economic status quo will be brought into question and universities which continue to invest will be pressurised into justifying their continued association with arms companies. Furthermore, the debate which arises around divestment issues allows the culture of military influence on campus- through funding of research- to be broached.

4. Won't Socially Responsible Investment harm financial returns?

Ethical investment funds that preclude arms company shares are amongst the most profitable. In the past decade the Church of England’s £4.3 billion ethically-managed fund, for example, was the 2nd best performer of more than 1,000 funds.

5. Aren't Councils legally prohibited from investing ethically?

Trustees are obligated to pursue best value – but this specifically does not exclude Ethical Investment. The Goode Committee on Pension Law Reform concluded “Trustees...are perfectly entitled to have a policy on ethical investment and pursue that policy.”

6. What alternative investment opportunities are available?

The ethical investment industry is well-established in the UK and offers a range of services for institutional investors. A good place to start would be Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS), who produce guides for investors and fund managers so that they can find the ethical policy which is right for them.

With thanks to UCL P and P

Another Evening News article recently

BAE roadshow proves popular

DEFENCE and engineering giant BAE Systems said today it had had a good response to its recruitment drive aimed at young children.

The company, which has operations at Edinburgh Park, said around 30,000 youngsters had already seen its recently-launched schools roadshow, which BAE hopes will give an insight into career opportunities within engineering and science.

Article in the Edinburgh Evening News

City urged to sell 'unethical'shares in BAE

CAMPAIGNERS are urging Edinburgh council to sell around £2 million worth of shares in engineering firm BAE systems.

They want the council to adopt an ethical investment policy and claim the shares are helping fund the war in Iraq and provide weapons for dictatorships around the world.

The call comes after a report from Campaign Against the Arms Trade showed the council held £2m of shares in BAE Systems - a company which, campaigners say, has supplied weapons to some of the world's most brutal regimes including Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and Colombia.

Institutions such as Edinburgh University already have ethical investment policies in place, allowing workers to propose dis-investment in companies not in line with their ethos.

Campaign spokesperson Dariush Bazazi said: "Most councillors opposed the war in Iraq, yet freedom of information requests show that they are reaping the profits by investing in arms companies such as BAE Systems.

"Edinburgh University has had an ethical investment policy for several years now, administered by the same company that the council uses, so the switch would be relatively easy to make."

An online blog for the campaign has been set up at

Why are BAE Systems bad company?

Why are BAE Systems Bad Company?

Contents -

In Short
Letter from Church Leaders
Case Studies

In short

BAE systems is the largest arms producer in the UK. It attracts consistent criticism for its sale of military equipment to oppressive regimes and human rights abusing dictatorships.

According to Unicef, 90% of casualties of war are civilians, 2 million children have been killed by war in the last decade and 6 million children seriously injured. The only people that profit are the arms companies.

FUELLING CONFLICT -- BAE has been taking advantage of the USA's 10% increase in weapons spending for equipment used in the illegal war in Iraq. While India and Pakistan were on the brink of nuclear war, BAE tried to sell 66 Hawk Jets worth £1 billion to India. The UK Ministry of Defence has also ordered equipment for use in Iraq including Cluster Bomb shells.

OPPRESSIVE REGIMES -- BAE supplied Hawk Ground Attack aircraft to the Suharto military dictatorship in Indonesia which were used to attack civilians in then illegally-occupied East Timor. BAE also supplied Hawk Jets to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Very recently BAE have sold Radar Equipment to the oppressive regime in Colombia, while a subsidiary of BAE is refurbishing 105-millimetre guns for the armed forces of Morocco, who illegally occupy Western Sahara. These guns are used along the Western Saharan border over which 160,000 Saharawi refugees have fled since 1975. Some F-16 aircraft sold to the US have been passed on to Israel, and used in bombing of civilian areas.

CORRUPTION -- BAE is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for running a slush fund for the Saudi Royal family, and paying more than a million pounds to former Chilean dictator General Pinochet.

FUELLING POVERTY -- BAE is happy to sell weapons systems to African countries such as Tanzania that cannot even afford health or education for their own people. Also, the more weapons are made and supplied to Africa, the worse wars get and the more poverty is fuelled. Weapons can often flow to Africa via 'safe' countries.

ELECTRIC SHOCK TORTURE BATONS -- In 1995 a BAE salesman offered to supply undercover reporters with electroshock weapons. He also claimed that 8,000 electroshock batons had been supplied to Saudi Arabia where systematic torture, including the use of electroshock weapons, has been described by victims of the authorities.


Q - But if we didn't sell them, wouldn't someone else?

A - Supplying weapons to a murderer in British law is called aiding and abbetting. Would you then say 'but if I didn't give him the gun, some one else would'?

A - 'British' arms companies source their components from all around the world, and increasingly is outsourcing its labour. Indeed many of the companies do not even want to be 'British' preferring to be seen as global companies. Hence British Aerospace changing its name to BAE Systems.

A - Of course the arms trade needs regulating globally, and we are campaigning with Amnesty and Oxfam for a global arms trade treaty. However, BAE Systems are lobbying against us.

Q - Don't British arms companies support British Jobs?

A - This is one of the main arguments put forward by those who support the arms trade, but it doesn't add up. According to the governments own figures, there are about 90,000 people employed, directly and indirectly, by the arms trade. Given that the subsidy is around £760m to £1bn per year, this works out at about £9,000 - £11,000 per job! This is an enormous amount of money which would in fact create far more jobs in other, less capital intensive (and risky) sectors such battleing the most important threat of our time - climate change - by developing renewable technology and cleaner transport. A recent MoD/York University report stated that if subsidies were cut by 50%, 49,000 job losses would be offset by 67,000 jobs created in the civil sector.

Another issue is that the number of jobs in the sector is falling all the time anyway. This is partly because companies are moving production lines overseas. In January 2002 for instance, just a few months after BAE Systems announced 1,000 job cuts at its factory in Glasgow, it 'created' 1,000 jobs at a new facility in America. CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) would like to see some of the money spent currently on subsidies redirected into a National Conversion Fund and used to help companies convert to civil production.

Q - Don't our arms exports help to defray the cost of supplying our own armed forces with military equipment?

A - This is the argument that is most often used by the arms companies to justify their subsidies. The reality is that export orders tend to come after the initial investment and often after any orders for the MoD have been filled. This means that any benefits go to the company and do not bring the cost of weapons for our own armed forces down. The government implicitly recognises this by trying to charge a levy to the arms manufacturers on exporters. They have tried to set this levy at 30% but currently only get around 1%.

Q - Surely arms exports are a useful tool of foreign policy -- we can have some control over other nations if they rely on us for weaponry and spare parts. Doesn't that make £760m well spent?

A - A relatively recent example again shows that the reality is a little different. The UK has been one of the most outspoken critics of Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe. Criticism has focused on Zimbabwe's involvement in the awful war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and also the almost casual abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe itself. When Zimbabwe wanted to buy spare parts for its Hawk aircraft -- which have been used in the DRC conflict -- it seemed a perfect opportunity to show our displeasure and to use this foreign policy 'tool' by refusing to export the spares. However, in the teeth of opposition from human rights campaigners and even some members of the Cabinet, the licences were granted in order to protect the reputation of the arms companies as reliable suppliers. In other words rather than being a foreign policy 'tool', arms exports are given such priority that other policy objectives, such as the infamous 'ethical' foreign policy, come a distant second.

Q - Aren't arms sales important for our own security? Don't we need to support an independent 'Defence Industrial Base' which can be relied upon in times of international crisis?

A - It seems likely that the UK will soon follow George W. Bush into war with Syria. In that case, it does not make sense that we are selling arms to Syria. Indeed on many occasions in the past, UK made arms have been used against us, the Belgrano for instance. And let us not forget who it was that sold Saddam Hussein many of his weapons!

Letter to the Guardian Friday October 6, 2006 from UK church leaders

As leaders of Christian communities in the UK, we cannot help but listen and respond to the increasing cry from around the world of those caught up in armed conflict (Reports, October 3). Christian communities around the world urge us to do what we can to stop the flooding of their countries with weapons, arguing that the continued push of arms to their countries undermines the vital work of building peace and security.

The disappointing outcome of the UN small arms review conference over the summer and the difficulty of getting international agreement to regulate the arms trade makes it all the more important to ensure that we act to stop the weaponry at source. Through the Defence Export Services Organisation, the Ministry of Defence unit that for 40 years has helped UK companies sell their military equipment and services overseas, British taxpayers subsidise the export of arms into areas of conflict and to governments that abuse human rights.

In recent years, our Churches have made clear statements on the evils of the arms trade, offering other visions for peace and security. We are currently in the middle of the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence and the United Nations' Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World and we believe that this is an opportune moment to begin a process which will lead to real change. In particular, we call on the UK government to close the Defence Export Services Organisation and not to transfer its functions elsewhere in the public sector, or to allocate public funds to enable them to be undertaken in the private sector.

Rev Graham Carter, President, Methodist Conference, Rev Kate Coleman President, Baptist Union Rt Rev Richard Inwood Bishop of Bedford, Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster And 11 others

Case Studies

An excellent set of well researched country studies are available at


There is so much on corruption in BAE that I cannot copy and paste all the stories. Countless directors have been arrested and investigated. Handily, the anti-corruption group UNICORN have gathered them together. See:

another link

Check out the link to read about the case made when Edinburgh University embraced ethical investment in 2003 .

Those arms investments in full

You can read about the arms investments for every council in Scotland at

According to this report, at the end of 2005, Edinburgh council invested £8,381,187 in the arms trade, including £2,760,995 in BAE Systems. There has been no sign of them selling these shares since.

That could be about to change though.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Introduction to the campaign

The election for the new Edinburgh Council is now less than a month away. Every political party is casting itself as the party of social justice and the environment.

However, a report from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, for example, shows that Edinburgh Council holds 2 million pounds in shares in BAE Systems - an arms company that has in the last few years supplied weapons to some of the world's most brutal regimes - including Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and Colombia.

The council is also making profits out of an illegal and immoral war - against Iraq, by investing in arms, despite many councillor's expressed opposition to this war.

This campaign is to bring the principles of our councillors and their constituents in line with the investments that the council makes.

Edinburgh University has had an ethical investment policy for several years now, allowing students and university workers to propose disinvesting in companies not in line with their ethos. For example the medical department proposed disinvesting in British American Tobacco - which it successfully did.

The same company manages Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh University pension funds, so the switch will be relatively easy to make.

All it takes now, is the will of our candidates now, and councillors after May 03rd to go ahead with it.

Keep checking for updates. We will be contacting each of the parties, and will post their responses.