University refuse to reveal their links with The Arms Trade

The information would breach confidentiality


Liverpool uni has denied to provide information about its financial and research relationships with the arms trade.

Two recent Freedom Of Information requests were made to Liverpool, on 16th December 2014 and 27th of August 2015, which requested details about its involvement with the arms trade over the past five years.

Details requested included the total amount that the uni has received in funding from arms trade companies and the Ministry of Defence, a portfolio statement of their investments in funds and their corresponding companies, and a confirmation of whether they hold any shares in arms trade companies, along with reports on the vanguard social index fund profile, etc.

It is currently known that over £17.5m of funding was provided to military projects between 2001-2006. BAE Systems, QinetiQ, MoD and Rolls Royce – some of the biggest arms corporations of the UK- were major donors.
In 2007, the university claimed on their website that the “Manufacturing Science & Engineering Research Centre members are already collaborating with BAE Systems, QinetiQ and BOC Gases on the potential for exploiting CGDM (Cold Gas Dynamic Manufacturing) for the production of aerospace materials and components”.
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The uni has since been refusing to provide details, saying: “Although the University holds the information…it is exempt under Section 41 (confidential data) and Section 43 (commercial interest) of the Freedom of Information Act and is therefore being withheld.
“Section 41 of the FOIA allows information to be withheld if releasing it would constitute a breach of confidence.

“The information contained in research funding agreements is ‘commercially sensitive’ and the release of this information could harm the commercial interests of the University. ”

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An event will be held by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) group on Monday, 19th of October, discussing this issue.

James Crawley, a Liverpool representative of Campaign Against the Arms Trade spoke to The Tab. He said: “It seems inconsistent with ethical values and incredibly dishonest for the university to refuse freedom of information requests about potential links with the arms industry.

“It’s surely in the public interest, in the student interest, and in the staff interest for the university to be more open and transparent about these links.”

Katherine Wright, another Liverpool representative of CAAT UK, said: “We need viable alternatives for students who do not want their work and research to go towards perpetuating the arms trade.

“The energy market is changing with costs decreasing for investment in green energies. Our finances and resources could be better spent investing in renewable energy sources and storage facilities.”

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Rachel Melly, Universities Network Coordinator from CAAT said: “The university withholding information about its ties with the arms trade is against public interest.

“Students need to know who is sponsoring their work and who has influence over their curriculum so they can make informed decisions about their education.”

The uni rejecting these FOI’s on arms trade is a growing concern for people studying at Liverpool.

Sebastian Forbes-Lee, second year Politics student went on to say: “Transparency and accountability should be more evident in the arms trade.

“Arms supplies can end up in the hands of human rights abusers and terrorists, so by withholding that information you should also be held accountable.

“However, if the research conducted by the uni provoked a significant breakthrough or was in any way productive, I think it is worth the collaboration.”

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History third year Tajah Hamilton told The Tab: “This is the kind of paternalism I would expect from secondary schools, not pillars of higher education.

“Students deserve to know whether or not their money is being used to fund the arms trade. At £9k a year for domestic students alone, I think we deserve that right.”

Max Baker, studying English in his second year, agreed. He said: “The university should be able to be open about where it receives funding and what its research goes towards.

“The university feels that being open about this matter conflicts with their commercial interests places questions over the integrity of those interests.”

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The event on the University of Liverpool and the Arms Industry is on Monday, 5:30pm, at the Mountford Hall. For more info, click here.