The AGM of arms giant BAE Systems this morning was overshadowed by a protest organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). While BAE Chairman Dick Olver struggled to answer questions about the company's ethics inside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster, outside CAAT had organised a "People's Jury" to highlight BAE's unethical activities around the world.
BAE: The People's Jury featured a bench of People's Judges, complete with wigs, who heard witness statements from those who had been affected by BAE's activities. In the dock was a giant puppet of BAE Chairman Dick Olver, who had earlier been chased along Victoria Street from his starting point outside United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), the government agency promoting arms exports. The verdict of the "People's Jury" was unanimous guilty on all charges.
At the AGM itself, Dick Olver faced a barrage of questions from shareholders, critical of BAE's activities. Many questions focused on allegations of corruption and the culpability of the BAE Board. They asked how much the present board knew about the activities that have brought the company under investigation by UK and US authorities, the role of BAE middleman Count Mensdoff-Pouilly and BAE's continued employment of former Chairman Richard Evans until 28 February 2010.
Former South African MP Andrew Feinstein, who asked questions of alleged corruption in relation to BAE's giant arms deal with South Africa in 1999, called on Dick Olver to resign for lying to shareholders. Other questions focused on BAE's weapons sales to countries known for being human rights abusers and recent reports of sales of Hawk jets to Iraq.
CAAT's core campaigner, Sarah Waldron, said:
Our People's Jury was an attempt to get the true facts about BAE's activities onto the record, given that they are now very unlikely to reach court, thanks to the shameful plea bargains between BAE and UK and US authorities. The BAE AGM shows that BAE is still a company in denial about the distress and destruction that are the outcomes of its unethical activities.
For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email
media(at)caat·org·uk. Photographs of CAAT supporters, the "People's
Jury" and the Dick Olver puppet outside the AGM are available on request.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. Around 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters and CAAT is strictly non-violent in all its work.
2. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPIRI), BAE Systems is the world's largest arms producer. It makes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, missiles and munitions. Its foremost markets are Saudi Arabia and the United States.