Blurring the boundary: Cardiff event links Whitehall to arms trade

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

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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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Solidarity Against #Spycops

NCND1It has been over five years since we learned that Mark “Marco” Jacobs was not just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover police officer. We made all the relevant political points about the matter in our statement at the time: “They come at us because we are strong

Since then a number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account.

spycopsSince we first filed an application in court, both sets of Police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice, giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence of all aspects of Officer Jacobs (and all other undercover police) deployment.

On Wednesday 25th March we will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence.

The night before we are in London we will be holding a protest outside Cardiff Central Police Station to draw attention to the case and the problem of undercover political policing in general.

Protest outside Cardiff Central Police Station, King Edward VIII Avenue, CF10
Tuesday 24th March, 6pm – 8pm (facebook event)

Then please join us if you can in a Solidarity picket of the court before the case starts.

Picket outside Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube)
Wednesday 25th March, 9am – 10am (facebook event)

It was recently announced that there will be a full public inquiry into political undercover policing. Though this is welcome, providing it is transparent, robust and independent, such exercises are unlikely to ever offer any path to justice. It is particularly unlikely that the truth about the role of undercover police in suppressing political activism in the UK will come to light whilst would-be whistleblowers have the threat of prosecution hanging over them.

Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.

Three ‘not guilty’ of assaulting police at anti-Israeli demo, as more evidence emerges of ‘secret’ police files on protesters.

arrestWhen police struggled to arrest a protester at a demonstration against the Israeli Ambassador‘s visit to the Welsh Assembly last June, three of them alleged assault. One said he’d been given a kick in the balls, another that he’d had his wrist scratched, a third that someone had pulled on his arm. Three people were arrested.

But what came out of the court case, as the CCTV showed, was that it was the protesters who had been assaulted. They had behaved, according to the District Judge, entirely lawfully. Yet the three defendants had been pushed and shoved across the road, one had been swung around by her arm, another thrown to the floor.

Why? There were ‘concerns’ the officers said, but none of them could explain further. PC Cook said he ‘feared a breach of the peace’. But he could not tell us why he feared such a thing. “I had reasons,” he said, “but I don’t think I can tell you what they were”.

It was not enough to convince the District Judge and he found all three defendants not guilty, as the police had not proved they were acting lawfully.

PC Cook’s ‘reasons’ had been based on an ‘intelligence briefing’ received by all officers that day. But despite repeated requests from the defence, the contents of this briefing were never revealed.

This is further evidence that the police keep ‘secret’ files on protesters, and that they use this ‘intelligence’ (that even defence lawyers are not allowed to see) to justify assault and arrest. Other material that was disclosed shows that at least half a dozen others were identified at the protest and placed under surveillance, one of them having the movements of his car monitored even after he left the protest.

Protesters are not criminals or terrorists, and should not be treated as though they are. It’s about time the police came clean about what information they keep on their files and how they use it.

Here comes the summer of rage!

storm-banksAs the economy drops deeper into recession, and the banking elite book their luxury holidays with taxpayers money, the G20 are coming to London to rub our noses in it. Time to take to the streets.

The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G20) acts as a forum for cooperation and consultation on international finance. Its members are drawn from 19 of the world’s 25 largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU). These economies comprise 90% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.

g20-meltdown

The G20 are hoping to meet in London to discuss how they can keep the bankers and their rich friends in luxury whilst the recession bites into everyone else’s lives. There will be numerous protests, demonstrations and actions to disrupt the summit and show the bankers and their political masters that we aren’t going to allow them to get away with the crimes they’ve committed. South Wales anarchists will be there. Join us!