BAE Systems AGM


2 members of Kingston Peace Council were among those who attended the Annual General Meeting of BAE Systems on 3rd May, as token shareholders. 

After the usual introductory propaganda claiming how well the company is performing, Chairman Dick Olver said that that he wanted to "listen to" and "understand" the views of shareholders, but his strategy was obviously to limit the awkward questions as much as possible by ignoring the point of the question and giving a lengthy speech about the ‘corporate responsibility’ policy.

Top of the agenda for questionners from the floor was the Attorney General's decision in December to stop the Serious Fraud Office investigation into dealings by the company with Saudi Arabia.  Mr Olver repeatedly quoted Lord Goldsmith's assessment that the SFO investigation had been "doomed to failure", and commented: "In my language that means no case to answer." He later said: "The Attorney General said there was no case to answer so there can have been no bribes".

Former South African MP, Andrew Feinstein, asked about payment of commissions in connection with a £1.6bn deal to sell Hawk and Grippen fighter jets to that country, but his series of questions went largely unanswered.  In addition to South Africa, the SFO is continuing to investigate BAE over allegations of bribery involving arms deals in Chile, Romania, Tanzania, Czech Republic and Qatar. 

The last question was from Kingston’s Mary Holmes, who said she was "depressed" by the decision to call off the SFO inquiry, which had damaged Britain's standing in the world. "I used to be very proud of British justice", she said.


Gill Hurle