News Shorts And Other Business
British Aerospace Supplying Oppressive Regimes
Squall 10, Summer 1995, pg. 4.
British Aerospace’s Annual General Meeting was targeted by Arms Trade Protesters in April.
Three shareholding protesters were forcibly ejected from the meeting amid angry scenes about arms sales to oppressive regimes.
BAe Hawk aircraft supplied to the Indonesian military for ‘defensive’ purposes have been implicated many times in the invasion of East Timor and the massacre of its population by neighbouring Indonesia. Conservative estimates put the number of deaths at over 200,000. Many observers point to the gas and oil-rich fields off the northern shores of East Timor which have attracted the interest of wealthy Indonesian and Australian Industrialists. The increasing competition for resources in growing Eastern Asian economies means that whoever can control these fields will control a substantial portion of future energy production in the area.
Shareholding protesters stalled the meeting’s agenda by firing question after question about the company’s involvement in arms exports including the supply of 10,000 electric shields and 5,000 electric shock batons, worth £2 million, to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Royal Ordnance premises at British Aerospace were used to demonstrate the hardware and the offer was made on BAe headed notepaper.
In response to the allegations of shock batons, BAe chief executive, Dick Evans, confirmed that a number of employees had been “disciplined” but refused to reveal details both about the contract itself and what action had been taken against those involved in the supply.
The two allegedly involved in the deal were Royal Ordnance sales director Philip Morris and general sales manager Martin Trengrove. The pair broke the 1968 firearms act and so, one might expect, a crown prosecution should be in order. However, Hugh Colver, BAe’s director of public affairs said: “It’s an internal disciplinary matter and we wouldn’t want to discuss what the charges were.”
Morris was suspended but the suspension ended when the investigation was complete. “That’s where the matter ends…. yes, he’s still with the company,” added Colver.
Incidentally, Hugh Colver CBE was previously a press secretary at 10 Downing Street, and a former press chief at the Ministry of Defence. Besides his work with BAe he is also currently press officer for the Conservative Party.
Paying The War Machine - weaponry is big business for UK Plc - Squall 10, Summer 1995.