Research published today by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) reveals that 75 local authorities in the UK hold investments in BAE Systems through their pension funds. CAAT used the Freedom of Information Act to question all local authority pension funds, which between them own shares in BAE worth over £300million. The research comes after months of controversy surrounding BAE’s alleged corruption and influence within Government.
At the top of the list is West Yorkshire Pension Fund, with £27.9m in BAE. It is followed by West Midlands (£16.8m), Strathclyde (£11.5m), Kent (£11.2m) and Aberdeen (£10.6m). Many councils also hold investments in other arms companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
CAAT Research Co-ordinator Ian Prichard, who conducted the study, said:
The arms trade is not a legitimate industry, but a business whose purpose is to profit from insecurity and conflict. The last year has seen a sharp rise in public opposition to the arms trade following revelations about BAE-Saudi arms deals and BAE’s excessive influence in the corridors of power. A recent vote at UNISON conference shows that council employees do not want their pensions propping up arms companies. Any local authority can improve its reputation by withdrawing from the arms trade and adopting an ethical investment policy. The evidence shows that clean investment can be as sound financially as it is ethically.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
- CAAT obtained the bulk of its figures on local authority arms investments through the Freedom of Information Act. CAAT has published a list of arms investments for each local authority in the UK. All figures relate to investments held on 31st December 2006 and are supplied by the local authority, unless otherwise stated.
- UNISON, a trade union which represents local government employees across the UK, voted at its conference on 19th June 2007 to oppose investment of pension funds in arms companies.
- A major example of the financial soundness of ethical investment was published in the Financial Times on 30th March 2005. It showed that the Church of England’s ethical fund, which rules out arms investments, was the second most successful of 1,000 funds surveyed.
- On 14th December 2006, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Government announced that they were suspending an investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in its arms deals with Saudi Arabia. CAAT and the Corner House, an anti-corruption NGO, have lodged grounds for a judicial review of this decision. The SFO is continuing to investigate allegations of BAE corruption in Chile, Czech Republic, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania.
- CAAT spokespeople are available for interview on this issue.