BAE AGM 2009
Every year CAAT mobilises supporters to give BAE's Board a hard time at their AGM. 2009 was no exception.
We started off outside the giant Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminister with CAAT supporters highlighting BAE's rising profits and poor ethical record. As usual, the area was heavily policed and we were confined to a small holding pen. Even so, we attracted attention.
But most of our supporters were headed inside to register their questions in advance. CAAT had over 30 supporters inside. Many were BAE AGM veterans, returning for another bout.
Once the meeting began we were faced with the usual bland indentikit BAE Board - all male, almost all white - fronted by Chairman Dick Olver, Apart from a report from newish Chief Executive Ian King, and a few short replies from others, Olver gave all the answers.
Olver talked a lot of BAE's commitment to "total performance" which meant a "commitment to corporate responsibility and high standards of business conduct". He declared "behaving responsibly is the right thing to do" as though this was an extraordinary commitment. He also declared that BAE had changed and was now a "world leader" in responsible business practice.
In fact, we heard a lot about ethics, mainly because CAAT shareholders asked question after question about the subject. We wanted to know about profits built from conflicts, corporate responsibility, corruption investigations, nuclear missiles, human rights in Saudi Arabia, arms sales to India and Pakistan, and even that old chesnut, "environmentally friendly weapons". You can read more about the questions and answers elsewhere on this website.
As always, two hours is never enough time to ask even a fraction of the questions we wanted. But we did get some revealing answers and a few laughs as well. Dick Olver appeared to lose his cool several times - maybe he now has some regrets that he agreed to stay on as Chairman till 2013.
CAAT will be back again at BAE AGM 2010. A big thank you to all CAAT supporters who attended, inside and outside the AGM.
CAAT's presence helped generate some excellent press coverage.