London university urged to disarm

By staff writers
5 Jun 2007
UCL students protest

UCL Provost Malcolm Grant has been presented with a petition signed by over 1,000 staff and students at University College London (UCL) calling on him to sell UCL’s shares in an arms company.

The provost also received a hand-signed copy of a book by UCL alumnus Richard Wilson, in which the author describes how his sister died as a result of the arms trade.

Richard Wilson is just one of the UCL graduates who has given his backing to the campaign Disarm UCL, which calls for the College to divest from arms trader Cobham plc and to adopt an ethical investment policy.

Malcolm Grant now has the chance to read Richard’s account of his sister Charlotte’s death at the hands of a militia in Burundi. Her killers told her that she was dying because of “the white people supplying the weapons in Africa”.

Richard Wilson said: "By handing this company over £900, 000 with which to do business, UCL is making itself complicit in that business, and its impact on the world. In producing components for military aircraft which are then sold to some of the most depraved regimes on the planet, Cobham is as responsible for the deaths that result as the people who produced the bullets that killed my sister."

UCL student and campaigner Ed Hood said: "There is no reason at all to invest in business that kills. Financially UCL would do equally well if it were to invest in ethical business. UCL prides itself to be a global university. We want a global university to show a global conscience."

After meeting the provost student and alumni campaigners protested in UCL’s main quad dressed in camouflage uniforms, with toy guns in their hands and mortarboards on their heads.

Disarm UCL is a cross-student society campaign, which was founded in December 2006. It is supported by UCL Union.

A request by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in 2006 revealed that UCL was
holding £845, 530 worth of shares in arms company Cobham PLC. This makes UCL one of the biggest known university investor in the arms trade in the UK.

Cobham PLC (UCL holds shares worth over £900,000) is a multi-national group of companies that is heavily involved in a number of major military aircraft programmes. It produces avionics, aircraft and missile components and provides military training and communication equipment

Richard Wilson's' book Titanic Express in which he describes his battle to find out how his sister Charlotte died was published by Continuum in 2006. The paperback edition was published in April 2007.

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