Arms bosses will face 'People's Jury' at AGM

By staff writers
April 30, 2010

Supporters of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) will be active inside and outside the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of BAE Systems, one of the world's largest multinational arms companies, in London next week.

For the last few years, controversy over BAE's arms deals and alleged corruption has hit the headlines whenever the company's AGM comes round. But with the meeting taking place the day before the general election, campaigners are particularly determined to ensure the issues are noticed.

Churches, faith groups and NGOs have long criticised BAE for selling arms around the world, including to oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. The company is facing allegations of corruption in five continents.

As BAE's directors face their AGM on Wednesday 5 May, they will be confronted by a “People's Jury”, putting BAE on trial.

The protest outside the central London event is expected to feature dozens of people dressed as judges and a giant puppet of BAE boss Dick Olver.

Meanwhile, critics will pose tough questions to board members inside the AGM.

In October 2009, BAE came under renewed scrutiny after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that they intended to prosecute BAE for corruption in four countries – the Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania.

But on 5 February 2010, BAE concluded joint plea bargains with the SFO and the US Department of Justice, whereby they admitted to less serious charges and paid fines totalling £280m.

CAAT believes that, “BAE has been effectively let off the hook and its activities should face public scrutiny through the courts”. They say that the “People's Jury” website and public hearing is “an attempt to bring BAE to trial in the court of public opinion”.

"No company should be above the law,” said CAAT's Sarah Waldron, “The deadly impacts of BAE's dodgy deals are still felt today: corruption kills".

She added, “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."

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