Blurring the boundary: Cardiff event links Whitehall to arms trade

Shoal Collective investigates the links between the weapons business and the UK government.

cardiff-arms-17

Campaigners have announced a day of protest against a controversial Cardiff event which they say “totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade”.

DPRTE (Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability) is to be held at the Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday 28 March. Although it bills itself as “the UK’s leading defence procurement event”, opponents insist it is an arms fair.

Last year six people were arrested during protests against DPRTE and another day of action has been called for 2017, with the aim of shutting the event down.

BAE Systems, whose fighter jets have been used by the Saudi regime to bomb schools and hospitals in Yemen, as well as by the Turkish and Israeli states against Kurdish and Palestinian civilians, will be exhibiting in the “Prime Contractor Village” at Cardiff’s Motorpoint.

DPRTE is open about its aims to deepen and increase existing ties between arms businesses and the government.

These links between the UK state and the weapons industry have come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, with Prime Minister Theresa May being forced to defend ongoing arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the face of international criticism.

Event organisers BiP Solutions boast: “With an annual spend of over £19bn on equipment and services the UK defence sector represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations looking to supply to this marketplace. DPRTE 2017 will provide a unique opportunity to gain access to defence procurement buyers”.

BiP Solutions, a private company based at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, is deeply embedded within Ministry of Defence (MOD) operations, running its Defence Contracts Online, through which all MOD contracts valued at £10,000 and above are advertised. It also publishes the fortnightly MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin.

Established in 1984 “to facilitate business between the public and private sectors”, BiP Solutions has had a “a sixteen-year relationship” with civil servants at the MOD in London.

A keynote speaker at DPRTE 2017 will be 62-year-old Les Mosco, who was the most senior procurement professional in the MOD from 2007 to 2014, managing 2,500 staff and directing the MOD’s annual multi-billion pound spend.

Before his seven-year stint at Whitehall, Mosco enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, with roles at the NatWest banking group, and at the US-based oil and gas business Amerada Hess, now the Hess Corporation.

Less than a year after leaving the MOD at the end of September 2014, Mosco took up a position on the Strategic Advisory Board of BiP Solutions.

He also runs his own private company, Commercial Strategies Ltd, of which he is CEO and director, with his 65-year-old wife Barbara as company secretary. It is registered to the couple’s home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

Originally set up in October 2003 as Purchasing Strategies Ltd, its name was changed to Commercial Strategies Ltd in October 2014, just after Mosco left the MOD.

Mosco’s go-between role is no anomaly. The UK government does not hide its links to DPRTE, with Barry Burton, Director of Corporate Affairs at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, declaring in his 2016 opening speech in Cardiff: “An event like DPRTE today provides an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to meet with the MOD’s procurement team. The Ministry of Defence wholeheartedly supports this event.”

The official event partners listed on the DPRTE website include sections of the MOD like Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO), which promotes arms exports by arms companies based in Britain.

Alongside these government entities sit other event partners whose status is less clear. One of these, for instance, is Defence Growth Partnership (DGP), which describes itself as “a partnership between Government and the Defence Industry”.

There is also the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), which explains on its website that it is “an established, independent partnership between the UK Government and the UK Defence Industry”.

The UKDSC claims to work with “the best of the defence industry” and names arms companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Thales, Cobham and BAE Systems as key partners.

Another DPRTE “partner” is Defence and Security Accelerator, a new entity launched in December 2016 to “help government defence and security departments collaborate with industry, academia and allies”.

Further official event partners at DPRTE entirely represent the interests of the powerful weapons manufacturing industry.

One of these, ADS, terms itself the “Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors” and claims to represent 1,000 businesses.(17)

Its website reveals that it acts as a lobbying group, pressuring the government to behave in ways that benefit its members’ interests – which in this case would mean spending more taxpayers’ money on buying weapons.

ADS admits that a key area of its activities is “influencing the policy debates of most importance to our industries,” adding: “ADS plays an instrumental role in bringing industry and Government together. We also work closely and collaboratively to maintain and grow the UK as a world leader in our industries.”

Working towards similar aims is another DPRTE partner, NDI – Defence, Space, Aerospace, Security. The arms wing of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, NDI “actively promotes global business opportunities for its members” and says it provides “policymaking influence to magnify the voice of the industry and individual companies”. Its “global partners” include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.

DPRTE has been attracting protests for several years and was forced to move to Cardiff in 2014 because of public opposition at its original venue in Bristol.

This year the Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd network is advertising a Day of Action at the Motorpoint Arena in Mary Ann Street, starting at 8am on 28 March 28.

One anti-militarist campaigner said: “This event is unacceptable in so many ways. It totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade and uses taxpayers’ money to promote unethical profiteering in the private sector.

“These ruthless businesses build their wealth on the rubble of schools and hospitals and on the dead bodies of the children targeted by the weapons of mass destruction they manufacture and sell across the world.

“DPRTE has no place in Cardiff and the city should be ashamed of hosting these dealers in death. We call on anyone with a conscience to join us on 28 March to shut down this arms fair!”

More info on the protests

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Afiach Release Two Benefit Compilations, to coincide with Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair

The two compilations ‘If It Was Easy They Wouldn’t Call It A Struggle’ and ‘Prosecute The Arms Dealers’, are both officialy released on the 20th of February 2016, to coincide with this years’ Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair.

One of the compilations will be raising money for Stop The Cardiff Arms Fair, and the other for Cardiff Defendant Solidarity. Both these causes are very worthy and currently relevant. In the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, DPRTE will be hosting their arms fair – they moved to Cardiff after leaving Bristol following massive protests. We hope the same will happen in Cardiff, so get involved in resisting the arms fair on March 16th 2016. Cardiff Defendant Solidarity helps and supports people going through the legal system, who need funds. Often for those facing charges, their expenses and fines add up quickly and adds more pressure and worry.

Donate or purchase online, share on your social media sites and come to the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair or any other ‘Afiach’ stalls to pick up a CD.
100% of proceeds go straight to these groups.

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The Track-Listing ……..

Afiach # 7 – If It Was Easy, They Wouldn’t Call It A Struggle
(Cardiff Defendant Solidarity Benefit)

4pp CD Booklet.ai

CD
1. Prison Abolition – Conscious Youth
2. Snow is Freedom – Tracey Curtis
3. Dangerous – WOWZA
4. Turbid Milieu – Grand Collapse
5. Tear Apart The Walls – Cistem Failure
6. Disgrace – Petrol Girls
7. I Wish There Was No Prisons – Cosmo
8. The Otherside – Will Tun & The Wasters
9. By Morning – Evan Greer
10. The Hunt – Failed State
11. Burn It Down – Jugganote
12. Jack Shit – Efa Supertramp
13. Until All Are Free – Rover
14. Fine Lines – Rufus Mufasa
15. A State of Affairs – Ap Cooper
16. Your Laws – Kilnaboy
17. Tân yn dy ‘Sgyfaint – Radio Rhydd
18. Squat Rave – SubFire
19. Don’t Worry – Jamey P
20. The Process – Brian Curran
21. Experiment – Joe Dirt
22. Watch Your Back – Primeval Soup

Full Digital Album also features:
23. P.R.S (Live) – Public Order Act
24. The World Is Ours – Gab De La Vega
25. Reveal The Sharks – We Are Animals
26. Fe Gerddaf Gyda Thi (remix) – Roughion
27. Different – Bibi
28. Too Blind To See It – Smiler
29. Yrth Quackin’ – Zhubat
30. Fuck Off – Spam Javelin
31. Gemini Whatever Happened To You – Jacob Nico
32. Think What You Like – Ferny Mac
33. Jiffy Hoof Out – Mwstard
34. One World Riot – Primeval Soup
35. Apocalypse Dub – Preppa
36. CCTV – Deadbeat
37. Coming Home – Pog

DOWNLOAD / PURCHASE CD HERE.

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Afiach # 8 – Prosecute The Arms Fair
(Stop Cardiff Arms Fair Benefit)

4pp CD Booklet.ai

1. System – Petrol Girls
2. Vampire – Black Star Dub Collective
3. Heddwch VIP – Roughion
4. Enter The International Court of Justice – Atterkop
5. Ladybug Ladybug – Conformist
6. Three Little Piggies – SubFire
7. Y Byd ar Dân – X4C
8. Missiles On The Roof – Holiday
9. Refusenicks – Kilnaboy
10. Help Define Heroes – Emissaries of Syn
11. Politricks – Spred The Dub
12. Survivor’s Parade – Pog
13. History’s Lies – Viva Zapata
14. Their Eyes (feat. Taina Asili) – Evan Greer
15. Pollution Evolution – Bratakus
16. For My Brothers – Jugganote
17. All The Girls Love a Soldier – Tracey Curtis
18. Not Wrinkles, Not Bombs – Mwstard
19. Billy Was My Buddy – Garden Folk
20. Hook, Line and Sinker – Johnny Campbell
21. They’ll Speak of us for Years – Zebedy

Full Digital Album also features:
22. F.E.A.R (feat. Efa Supertramp & Secret Weapons) – Clusterfuck
23. Byd ‘di Blino – Radio Rhydd
24. These Streets Are Ours – Cosmo
25. Nation Violation – Failed State
26. Like Waves – Gab De La Vega
27. Zero Degrees – Ferny Mac
28. It’s Not The End of The World Yet – Days & Ages
29. Black Skies – Worthy Victims
30. Be The Best – The Manifest
31. Vote Your Friends In – Smiler
32. History – Noah
33. All My Friends Are Freedom Fighters – Efa Supertramp
34. Steadiness Is Lying – Jacob Nico
35. Let’s Blow Up The World – Alaric Newnham
36. Y Stryd – Terfysg
37. War Puppet – Sods Law
38. Racists – 51st State
39. Weasels
 – Internationalcuntcircus
40. F.N.W.O – Rufus Pearce
41. Jen Dalsi Pisen Proti Valce – Hledani
42. Pork Beli – Zhubat
43. Zombie Dub – Zombie Dub

DOWNLOAD / PURCHASE CD HERE.

Call to Action Against the Cardiff Arms Fair

Come to Cardiff on the 16th of March 2016 to take action against the DPRTE arms fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena.

motorpoint

According to its website, DPRTE (the Defense Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition) is the “UK’s Premier Defense Procurement Event” and is now being hosted annually at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. They hosted the arms fair in Cardiff for the first time in October 2014, with exhibitors including BAE Systems, the world’s 3rd largest arms producer. BAE has a very special relationship with the UK government & Saudi dictatorship.

*BAE sells equipment to Saudi Arabia, which is being used in the current bombardment of Yemen.

*BAE supplied the tactica armored vehicles, used by Saudi Arabia, in 2011, to brutally crush pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

*BAE systems supplies Israel with the tools to wage war on the Palestinians, and provides display units used to equip Israeli F-16 fighter jets.

*BAE is one of many companies at DPTRE which supplies weapons to Turkey. In 2015, people in towns across Turkey’s Kurdish region have barricaded their city centers and declared autonomy from the state. The Turkish army has responded by attacking residential areas with tanks, combat helicopters and mortars, killing hundreds of people.

BAE are just one of over 80 exhibitors set to participate in the arms fair. Some are giants of the international arms industry that might be expected; others have a more local dimension, including the Welsh Assembly’s National Procurement Service and the University of South Wales. Household business names like BT and Panasonic are also all over the programme. It seems that a lot of people stand to make a lot of blood money out of the various weapons and other technological approaches to waging warfare that will be displayed.

There has been active opposition to DPRTE since 2013. The arms fair had originally been hosted at the UWE campus in Bristol, but was driven out by determined resistance; hence the move to Cardiff. The protests involved a variety of actions, including blockading the UWE north entrance, causing queues trailing back along the A4174.

Having relocated to Cardiff in 2014, South Wales Anarchists, Stop NATO Cymru and other groups and individuals resolved to show the arms dealers that there is no welcome for them in Wales either. Food Not Bombs Cardiff had a presence; people confronted the arms dealers and tried to get inside; and three arms dealers were covered in red paint as they tried to enter. Those arrested for this action had their charges dropped when it came to trial, due to insufficient evidence.

We urge all that can to join the growing resistance in Cardiff, and in particular, to take action against this arms fair and all those taking part in it on wednesday 16th March 2016. We know that when the richmake war, it’s the poor that die, and we won’t stand for business people profiting from racist mass murder, displacement and torture.

Our website will be updated with news and information and you can contact us by email on: stopcardiffarmsfair at riseup dot net

Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd suppourted by the Anarchist Action Network, Smash EDO, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and South Wales Anarchists

They won! Anti-Militarist Court Solidarity

On the 6th of January 2015 two local people stood trial, accused of disrupting last year’s Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) Arms Fair, now an annual occurrence in Cardiff.

The defendants were accused of throwing red paint at delegates entering the fair, damaging their luxury goods worth hundreds of hundreds of pounds. They were charged with Criminal Damage and breach of s.4A of the Public Order Act (“Causing harassment, alarm or distress with intent”). They were advised that the prosecution would be seeking custodial sentences.

The defendants sought to run separate, distinct defenses. The first was to put forward a factual defense that the police had grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground for no reason. The second defendant contended that they had been acting out of necessity in an attempt to prevent war crimes based on the arms fair’s various links to Israel and the horrific attacks against Gaza that took place over the summer, in the context of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Before the trial started some 30 supporters gathered outside Cardiff Magistrates court for a solidarity demonstration with the two defendants. Several groups came out to support, including Food not Bombs Cardiff, Anarchist Action Network, Afed Bristol, Cor Cochion Caerdydd, Bristol Defendant Solidarity, Bristol Against the Arms Trade, disarmUWE as well as South Wales Anarchists.

Outside Cardiff Magistrates Court before the Trial

Outside Cardiff Magistrates Court before the Trial

Throughout the day defendants and their supporters were followed and surveiled by Police Liaison Officers, who largely failed in their documented intelligence gathering role since all attendees wisely declined to engage with them from the outset.

Court proceedings were delayed for hours as there was no prosecutor – the Crown Prosecution Service was called and the prosecutor who had been appointed to the case said he knew nothing about it. A replacement prosecutor was then speeded to the court.

As the arms dealers and lay prosecution witnesses had also failed to turn up, the prosecution sought to amend the charge to Criminal Damage of the arresting officer’s uniform. One of the police witnesses had claimed paint damage to his uniform – which surely, if it had occurred, would have been the result of manhandling and grabbing the defendants when they were arrested. The District Judge said that this was “moving the goalposts” considerably and that Criminal Damage by paint transfer during an arrest when the police grabbed the defendants would be “ludicrous”.

After lunch the CPS informed us that it would drop all charges. The many supporters in the public gallery broke out into applause and the judge scolded them saying “this is NOT a football stadium!”.

Outside Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Outside Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

The DPRTE arms fair will be returning to Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on the 8th of March 2016. To flog their machines of torture and death. The people of Cardiff and beyond stand ready to oppose them and we ask that you will join us.

For more info on how to get involved with the campaign against DPRTE arms fair, email: stopnatocymru@riseup.net

Anti Militarist Court Solidarity – 6th January

Via Anarchist Action Network

No arms

6th Jan 2015
Time: 9:15am
Date: Tuesday 6th January 2015
Location: Cardiff Magistrates Court
Address: Fitzalan Road, Cardiff CF24 0RZ

Court solidarity demonstration to support two much-loved people who are facing excessively harsh charges for allegedly seeking to disrupt the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff last year. They stand accused of damaging the luxury goods of arms dealers and organisers with childrens play paint.

There will be a short solidarity demonstration outside the court from 9:15am on Tuesday 6th January 2015. Antimilitarist banners and well-wishers welcome. Afterwards some of us will be supporting the defendants from the public gallery.

URGENT WITNESS APPEAL:
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Were you present at the protest against DPRTE Arms Fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in October 2014? Even if you think you didn’t see anything you may be able to provide useful defence evidence as to the nature of the day.
If you think you may be able to help please email: bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

 

On trial: Anti-Nato protesters who demanded Barclays divest from the arms trade

Barclays Bank will be back in the spotlight today at Newport Magistrates Court, when 4 activists stand trial on charges of aggravated trespass. The activists were arrested when they occupied the Newport branch of Barclays as part of the anti-NATO week of action organised by Stop NATO Cymru at the beginning of September. The trial is set to last for a day and a half. All defendants have plead not guilty to all charges

On Friday 5th September this year, scores of people occupied the bank on Newport high street. They held banners calling on Barclays to divest from the arms trade and to stop investing in Israel’s war crimes.

The protest was part of a campaign, called for by Palestinians in Gaza,[1] aimed at persuading Barclays to pull its money out of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company which manufactures the unpiloted drones used to bomb Palestinians in Gaza.

During July and August 2014, 2,150 Palestinians were killed as Israel carried out another massacre of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed and mosques, market places, UN relief compounds and schools were deliberately targeted. There was no safe place for the 1.7 million people in Gaza to take shelter from the Israeli bombardment. Israeli drones, carried out over 800 major strikes.

Barclays has been condemned in recent years for its excessive use of tax havens, for creating a special ‘tax avoidance division’, for paying well below the nominal UK rate of corporation tax and manipulating the Libor rate. But this protest was more reminiscent of those which plagued Barclays through the 1970s and 1980s when the bank was heavily invested in apartheid South Africa.

The activists claim that Israel’s drone programme is dependent on the investments of companies like Barclays. They called on customers and staff to boycott Barclays, just as anti apartheid campaigners did over
30 years ago.

The occupation of Barclays had been timed to coincide with the NATO summit. Elbit’s drones are also used by NATO members. The company is part of a partnership manufacturing the Watchkeeper drone for use by the UK military.

Opposing the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff

On the 8th of October, DPRTE – “The UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event” was held in Cardiff’s Motorpoint arena. A demonstration had been called by Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network and South Wales Anarchists to oppose it, starting at 8.30am to coincide with the start of delegate registration, when the those buying and selling weapons and toys of war would be entering the arms fair.

Several times people managed to get very close to the entrance before being kicked out by security, giving the delegates a piece of their mind in the process. At around 9am 3 men in suits entering the arms fair were covered in red paint. Two people were arrested and subsequently kept for 12 hours. They were both charged with criminal damage for staining the suits.

dprte

Food not Bombs Cardiff gave vegan breakfasts to passers by and the demonstrators. Food not bombs are a group who draw attention to food waste, and also the absurd fact that under capitalism we can afford to go to war but yet so many are going hungry and in many parts of the world people are starving to death.

FNB

The arms industry benefits from perpetual war that has become the norm. Arms dealers make money from the deaths of innocent people. They came to Cardiff, a city that had a small taste of what it is to be in a militarized zone with the NATO Conference coming to south Wales just a month ago. If DPRTE come back next year people will be there to oppose them again. We don’t want these dangerous psychopaths in our city, buying and selling weapons that kill people.

Protesters continued to have a frank exchange of views with delegates at the fair for the remainder of the day.

dprte2