29 April 2010
Supporters of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) will be active inside and outside BAE Systems Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 5 May 2010 as they continue to expose the unethical activities of the giant arms company. CAAT will put BAE on trial with a "People's Jury", featuring dozens of judges and a giant puppet of BAE Chairman, Dick Olver.
The BAE AGM has long provided a focus for anti-arms and anti-corruption campaigners, who have used the forum to focus on the activities and dealings of the company, in particular its alleged corruption in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other countries.
In October 2009 BAE came under renewed scrutiny after the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it intended to prosecute BAE for corruption in four countries – The Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania. However, on 5 February 2010, BAE concluded joint plea bargains with the SFO and the US Department of Justice, whereby it would admit to less serious charges and pay fines totalling £280m.
CAAT and The Corner House challenged the basis of the settlement through a judicial review process but had to withdraw after the SFO admitted technical and procedual problems with the prosecution. CAAT believes strongly that BAE has been effectively let off the hook and its activities should face public scrutiny through the courts.
BAE: The People's Jury website and public hearing is an attempt to bring BAE to trial in the court of public opinion. Inside the AGM, critics will pose tough questions to BAE Board Members.
Sarah Waldron, CAAT's core campaigner, says:
No company should be above the law. The deadly impacts of BAE's dodgy deals are still felt today: corruption kills. The SFO may be willing to allow BAE to buy its way out of trouble, but our People's Court will ensure the voices of those affected by BAE's actions are heard.
For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email press(at)caat·org·uk.
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. The timetable for Wednesday 5 May 2010 is as follows:
10am - CAAT demonstration outside Kingsgate House (66-74 Victoria Street, SW1E 6SW), home to the government's arms sales department- United Kingdom Trade & Investment Defense & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO)
10.15am - Demonstrators pursue a giant puppet of BAE Chairman Dick Olver away from the government office that gives him so much support, along Victoria Street to the QEII Conference Centre where the BAE AGM will be held.
10.30am-12 noon - Outside QEII Conference centre (Broad Sanctuary, London, SW1P 3EE) CAAT will convenue its own "People's Jury" to expose BAE's dirty dealings to public scrutiny. The jury will features testimonies from people directly affected by the actions of BAE.
11.30am - Shareholders will enter the BAE AGM to pursue justice inside, while the People's Jury continues outside.
3. The People's Jury website includes useful information on BAE's activities and invites comments from interested members of the public. It already features hard-hitting contributions from:
Clare Short, former International Development Secretary, on BAE's hard sell of an outdated and expensive radar system to Tanzania.
Professor Mike Koehler, US academic and expert on corruption, on the trans-Atlantic plea bargain that got BAE off the hook.
Andrew Feinstein, anti-corruption campaigner and former ANC MP, on how BAE's dealings have undermined South Africa's fledgling democracy.