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An open letter to the Argus – Barclays shares in the arms trade


In your article of December 20th about the direct action against Barclays on North Street over the bank’s dealings in arms trade shares you quote a Barclays spokesperson as claiming that Barclays did not own “any shares in Elbit Systems”.

This is simply an attempt by Barclays to evade responsibility for its financial practices.

Barclays PLC is named as a shareholder in some of the world’s largest arms companies, including a massive 4.25% holding in BAE Systems and almost $3 million worth of shares in Elbit Systems.

Barclays Bank profits from investment in the arms trade through providing the Barclays Stockbrokers service, which facilitates the buying and selling of shares, including shares in arms companies. In one of the options offered by Barclays to its UK customers the bank advertises that: “Barclays Stockbrokers will hold your assets on your behalf”. Barclays Stock Brokers’ customers are able to trade in whatever company they like, regardless of Barclays stated ethical policies.

Barclays are trying to brush off public anger about these share holdings by claiming that they are simply held on behalf of Barclays Stockbrokers’ customers and the bank does not determine where customers invest their money. However the bank is profiting from providing the service. According to Barclays Stockbroker’s customer service department the fees for Barclays Stockbrokers’ services include a charge of up to £75 commission for buying or selling shares, a currency conversion charge for trade in shares on foreign markets of 1.5% and a £7.50 charge for automatically reinvesting cash dividends. Barclays also purchases arms trade shares for the purpose of hedging, another form of financial investment.

Barclays have the power to prevent their customers investing in the arms trade by not facilitating the purchase of shares in arms companies through Barclays Stock Brokers. By continuing to profit from enabling these investments they are making a mockery of their own stated policies on investment in the arms trade.

Barclays blockaded over arms trade shares

Today Smash EDO and Brighton Palestine Action blockaded Barclays Bank for an hour before activists were removed. The action was part of a campaign aimed at forcing the bank to have nothing to do with shares in Elbit Systems, Exelis (EDO MBM’s parent company), BAE, Raytheon and other arms companies. It comes a month after a nationwide day of action saw occupations of Barclays in cities across the UK

One person was arrested, who had glued himself to the front doors of the bank. He was dressed as Santa wearing a placard which read ‘Santa says you’ve been a very naughty bank this year’.

Here’s the initial press report from the Argus

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Will the Supreme Court give police the ‘right’ to mass surveillance?


Photo Caption – John Catt, who took a case against the police for storing data on his attendance at protests

The Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), with the backing of the Secretary of State, have been fighting a case in the Supreme Court, defending their ‘right’ to store data on protesters. They are appealing against a 2013 judgement, which said that they were obliged to destroy data about an anti-war protester called John Catt. The ruling has implications for the police’s right to store data on everyone. The court has now heard legal arguments and a judgement is expected soon. Continue reading

Saturday Nov 29th: Brighton says “Stop Arming Israel – Boycott Barclays”

Smash EDO supported the day of action against Barclays bank, who invest in Exelis (EDO MBM’s Parent Company), last Saturday. Here’s a report of the Brighton action:
Saturday Nov 29th: Brighton says “Stop Arming Israel – Boycott Barclays”
Saturday 29th November 2014
UN International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine

barclays 29 nov 2014 3

Today as part of a nationwide day of action in protest at Barclays holding shares in Elbit Systems, Brighton campaigners did a little bit of theatre inside the bank’s main branch in North Street. Continue reading

Cops fight for the right to mass surveillance

The Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), with the backing of the Secretary of State, are fighting a case in the Supreme Court, defending their ‘right’ to store data on protesters. They are appealing against a 2013 judgement, which said that they were obliged to destroy data about an anti-war protester called John Catt.

John Catt had been put under surveillance while attending demonstrations and public meetings against Brighton arms dealers, EDO MBM (Exelis).

Here are some detailed reports of the case from the Network for Police Monitoring:

Day 3 of the John Catt ‘domestic extremism’ Supreme Court hearing

Intelligence gatherers at a east London prp-Palestine action. PHOTO: from the Netpol Flickr Pool

Today was the third and final day of legal argument at the Supreme Court in the attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn a Court of Appeal decision on its ‘domestic extremism’ database. Judgement has been deferred to a later date.

A summary of submissions on day 1 (by counsel for the Metropolitan Police) is available here and day 2 (by counsel for John Catt) here.

John Catt’s case at the Supreme Court concluded today, but not before submissions by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and closing remarks from the Metropolitan Police.

Jeremy Johnson QC for the Met raised eyebrows when he claimed that there had been no attempt to keep secret the database on which John Catt’s details (along with those of up to 26000 others) were kept – and that in fact there was no such thing as a ‘domestic extremism’ database anyway. The latter point was truly splitting hairs – while the database was officially named the ‘National Special Branch Intelligence System’, it had been consistently referred to as the ‘domestic extremism database’ in the original case in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.

The existence of the database came to public attention in a Guardian article in 2009 and it was confirmed in an answer to a question posed by Jenny Jones in the London Assembly in September 2009. Tim Owen QC, for John Catt, had pointed out that up until that point the database had been shrouded in secrecy. The Met claimed that this was not the case as its existence was made known in an HMIC report in 2003. This, however, is surprising as the HMIC reported in 2003 that ‘a major shortcoming in Special Branch capability and effectiveness was…the inadequate provision of IT systems and the absence of any Special Branch national network or database for intelligence management.’ In any event, Johnson said, protesters should have been aware that the details of suspected offenders and those associating with them could be taken and retained by the police – as this what is stated in the Met’s registration with the data controller under the Data Protection Act.

John Catt had, Johnson reiterated, been associating with criminal suspects. The ‘evidence’ for this consisted of the fact that Catt had been “regularly present at events where disorder had taken place”, which “at least raised the possibility of association” and that he had expressed support for suspects by attending court hearings where some were being prosecuted (and later acquitted) of criminal acts.

Many people will doubtless be concerned that the act of attending protests where other people had broken the law, or attending court in support of activists on trial, could lead to their details being held on a domestic extremism database.

Lord Toulson flagged up a particular intelligence report made at a protest outside the TUC conference. The report noted that “the following protesters attended [giving John Catts name]” and noted that those attending were “regular protesters”. Johnson appeared to flounder when he was pushed by both Toulson and Neuberger to state where justification could be found for the retention of this data, when there was no question of criminal acts having taken place at all.

Johnson also claimed that the fact the database had been reduced from 26000 down to 2000 showed “the system was working” and that many entries had been deleted when the initial six year period had passed. It was not, as John Catt had claimed, evidence of disproportionate retention. Nor did he accept the other allegation that had been made, that the reduction in the numbers on the database had been made only because of the current judicial challenge.

Alex Bailin QC had earlier made submissions on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He strongly challenging the assertion of the Metropolitan police that ‘mere’ retention of data could not be an interference with privacy rights. On the contrary, the “correct test for the legality of the database is whether there is systematic collection and retention – by which I mean routine or indiscriminate collection, recording the names of individuals regardless of the nature of their participation in protest events, and the entry of that data on a searchable database.” Where a database could be used to compile a profile, to get a picture of a person’s overall movements and behaviour, it “crossed the line” and was an interference with their private life. He also pointed out that the particularly sensitive nature of the data being held on the database – that it carries the details of political affiliation and activity, and carries the stigmatising label of ‘domestic extremism’ – makes it even more important that there are clear provisions on the circumstances in which data will be collected, retained, destroyed or disclosed.

The court will now consider their judgement.

Day 2 of the John Catt ‘domestic extremism’ Supreme Court hearing

Today was the second of three days of legal argument at the Supreme Court in the attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn a Court of Appeal decision on its ‘domestic extremism’ database. Today’s submissions were made by Tim Owen QC, representing the campaigner John Catt.

A summary from day 1 of the Supreme Court hearings is available here

The barrister Tim Owen QC, counsel for peace campaigner John Catt, was today faced with the task of convincing the Supreme Court that the actions of the police in retaining his client’s personal data on the ‘domestic extremism’ database had a “chilling effect” on protest and breached his fundamental human rights. At times this seemed like an uphill struggle. Read more

Day 1 of the John Catt ‘domestic extremism’ Supreme Court hearing


Today was the first of three days of legal argument in an attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn an earlier Court of Appeal decision that found the retention of a protester’s data was disproportionate and a breach of human rights legislation.

The case had originally been brought by Brighton peace campaigner John Catt, who has argued that police actions in taking notes on his attendance at political demonstrations and retaining them on a ‘domestic extremism’ database were a breach of his Article 8 right to respect for his private life. In May 2012, the High Court ruled against him, but this was reversed by the Court of Appeal in March 2013.

The Metropolitan Police argued in the Supreme Court today that officers should be free to collect and retain the personal data of people engaged in protest whenever they considered it necessary and legitimate to do so, and that the ‘mere’ retention of data did not breach privacy rights. Read more