R-v-Nero and Pidwell
VENUE: Brighton Magistrates Court
Edward Street, Brighton
DATE: 23 August 2012
Two anti-war activists, Jessica Nero and Gavin Pidwell, face charges of Aggravated Trespass. In their defence they have presented evidence of the unlawful business activities of Brighton arms company EDO MBM Technology Ltd, a subsidiary of US arms maker ITT Exelis Inc. Exelis is a a $1.7billion multinational arms, security, and intelligence
Jessica Nero and Gavin Pidwell were arrested on 26 April 2011 after blocking the firm's factory gates in protest at its ongoing manufacture of weapons system umbilical connectors being supplied for use on the new Israeli F-35 aircraft, as well as US F-16, and A-10 fighter jets, all of which carry illegal cluster bombs as part of their arsenals.
Section 2 (2) of The Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010 makes it an offence for any British person or resident to assist the use of cluster bombs.
The Managing Director of EDO MBM, Paul Hills, who has worked in the weapons system business for 23 years was cross-examined on the lawfulness of his business by the defendants legal team on 1 August. He denied knowing that a Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW) onto which his company's parts are fitted,is a cluster bomb.
Smash EDO spokesperson Andrew Becket commented: 'There has been clear documentary evidence presented in this case that EDO MBM have engaged in unlawful activities including assistance in the use of cluster bombs and the supply of military equipment for Israeli war planes contrary to UK domestic law.'
The defendants are represented by Teresa Blades of Kellys Solicitors, Brighton.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF EDO MBM's PARENT COMPANY CRIMES
EDO MBM is a UK subsidiary of US arms maker ITT Exelis Inc. ITT is a $1.7billion multinational arms company with a notorious twentieth-century history of support for the fascist regimes in Spain, Germany, and Chile.
More recently ITT pled guilty in 2007 to illegal exports and cover-up of secret military technology to China over a 25 year period. As part of a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice, ITT paid $100million in fines, which at the time was one of the largest criminal fines for breaches of arms export controls in paid in US history.
EDO MBM's previous parent company EDO Corp pled guilty 2003 to illegal arms exports and agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine to US authorities.
Both corporations were placed under increased auditing and compliance regimes as a result of their convictions.
From 1983 to 2000 EDO MBM was owned by the British Morgan Crucible PLC, under the direction its then CEO Ian Norris. Ian Norris was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice in December 2010 after destroying company documents related to a corporate fraud investigation into Morgan Crucible in the same period that EDO MBM was owned by the conglomerate. After being extradited to the US, Ian Norris was tried, convicted sentenced to 18 months in a US prison.
In June 2010 the crown court acquitted seven Smash EDO activists of £180,000 damage to the factory after a defence of 'lawful excuse' was accepted by the jury on grounds that it was reasonable to believe EDO MBM were engaged in illegal arms exports to the Israel Air Force of arming units used to commit war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009.
Smash EDO spokesperson Andrew Beckett said, 'EDO MBM have failed to learn anything from their parent firms corrupt histories or their own exposure in the crown court in 2010 as liars. They continue to act illegally,and unethically with apparent impunity. Like their bosses before them, the directors of EDO MBM have sought to cover up these crimes with lies and misrepresentations in numerous judicial proceedings.'
'Sussex Police have done nothing to stop these acts, in fact by neglecting to do their duty they have effectively supported them. It's time to bring this sordid tale of police collusion with arms dealer corruption to an end'.
Contact: Andrew Beckett or Sam Hayward - 07526557436
Smash EDO website: http://www.smashedo.org.uk