York arms trade campaign retract petition after possible legal action

Students have protest against arms company BAE systems across the UK. Photo: CAAT

Students have protest against arms company BAE systems across the UK. Photo: CAAT

The York Campaign Against the Arms Trade have been advised to withdraw a petition which they launched against the University over comments about BAE Systems.

The national campaign informed them that the claim made in the preamble of the petition that BAE Systems are ‘“infamous for extensive corruption” was a dangerous one.

It emerged that CAAT had advised them that whilst BAE had been dogged by allegations of corruption, the petition’s preamble could be taken to suggest that they had been convicted of such claims and was therefore potentially libellous.

The petition called for the University to cease accepting any funding from British Aerospace Systems, MBDA, Rolls Royce and QinetiQ for research projects pending further legal advice.

The petition had been signed by over 800 students, after they were contacted by the national Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).However, the National CAAT have refused to comment on the situation.

Alexandra Peck, a campaign coordinator for CAAT York, spoke about the concerns which have been raised in the past about BAE’s business practices.

“BAE often neatly sidesteps corruption allegations. In 2006 Tony Blair quashed the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into BAE’s multi-billion pound deals with Saudi Arabia.”

Peck explained that the petition had been suspended pending further legal advice from the national offices of CAAT, though she said that she expected it to be “permanently withdrawn”.

The petition was launched following a Nouse investigation that revealed the University had received over £4 million in research grants from the arms companies.

Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, said: “The wording on the petition seems to be an issue of semantics and the law which although is serious, shouldn’t take away from the concern that 800 students have shown about the way research funding is obtained. I’m sure this campaign will continue.”

Peck added that she plans to meet with them next week to ensure that similar mistakes are not repeated in the future.

“Whilst the wording of our campaign message will be tweaked it is simply to be clearer about the activities of the arms manufacturers which sponsor research at this university.”

“We decided to stop collecting signatures until we had the opportunity to rewrite it in a clearer format. However, the message will remain the same.”

6 comments

  1. Libel is not much more ethical than the business of these companies…
    A.

    Reply Report

  2. We’d have thought that a campaign mainly run by students from philosophy, english, etc type departments could have spotted this.

    I agree with J. hahahaha.

    Reply Report

  3. only 800 students signed the form there are 13,000 enrolled….. less than ten percent wanted change. this is ridiculous i’m glad their stupid petition failed

    Reply Report

  4. “BNOC: only 800 students signed the form there are 13,000 enrolled….. less than ten percent wanted change. this is ridiculous i’m glad their stupid petition failed”

    That’s a pretty stupid interpretation of the figures. How many of the 13,000 do you think were actually aware of the petition? Certainly nowhere near 13,000. How many do you think were actually asked to sign it in person? I highly doubt more than a few thousand.

    Reply Report

  5. Yes, but 800 people out of 13,000 hardly shows it as a cause that has substantial backing…

    Reply Report

Leave a comment



Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.