Edinburgh Council slammed over £128m arms dealer investment

Council has been asked to stop investing in arms manufacturers such as BAE Systems. Picture: supplied
Council has been asked to stop investing in arms manufacturers such as BAE Systems. Picture: supplied
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A PENSION scheme managed by the city council is sitting on arms investments worth £128 million – sparking calls for the Capital to “turn its back” on weapons companies.

Industry giants BAE Systems, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman are among firms benefiting from transactions overseen by the council, which administers local government and other pension funds in the Lothian area.

Campaigners and opposition figures said ploughing cash into manufacturers of equipment used in war zones was “immoral and irresponsible”.

Councillor Gavin Corbett, finance spokesman for the city’s Greens, said: “As far back as September 2007, Green councillors have been arguing that the council should be getting its pension funds out of arms companies. Today’s revelations on the scale of arms investment in the Lothian Pension Fund are shameful.”

He added: “I simply cannot believe that public sector workers or former public sector workers are happy for their pensions to rest on the blood and anguish of those caught up in conflict zones, fuelled by trading in arms. If companies which trade in weapons are not beyond the pale, what is?

“I know that there is to be a review of pension investment principles later this year. That review cannot come soon enough and I really hope it will decide to turn its back on all companies which are in the arms industry.”

In a letter to city leader Andrew Burns, John Young of the Common Weal South Lanarkshire group, which obtained the figures through a freedom of information request, said: “The fact that these investments employ thousands of jobs does not make it somehow acceptable.

“Common Weal South Lanarkshire believe no public money, without public consultation, knowledge or consent, should be made in arms investments on behalf of the people.

“We believe this is immoral and irresponsible in seeking to establish a society that seeks to resolve conflict through negotiation and peaceful means.”

Lothian Pension Fund leaders said it was vital money was invested in the best interests of members and employers.

A spokeswoman said: “The funds pursue a policy of constructive engagement with companies on issues which are consistent with the funds’ financial responsibilities and the fund is an active shareholder and a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com