Corporate Watch has learned that the Director of ITT Defence International has applied to the UK government for the right not to file his details with Companies House. Bruce K. Scott, an American citizen, made the application 10 months ago, when ITT took over EDO MBM in Brighton. EDO MBM has been the subject of a concerted direct action campaign over the last four and a half years due to their manufacture and supply of weapons used by the US and UK military in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the Israeli army in Palestine (see here, for example).
Company directors are obliged to file their details with Companies House, which makes such details publicly available. However, directors are able to seek ‘confidentiality orders’, subject to a police risk assessment, if they can prove they are at serious risk of violence or intimidation. Directors of companies related to animal testing and other industries subject to public opposition have taken advantage of this provision, as had the directors of EDO MBM prior to the ITT takeover. In November last year, an anonymous ‘open letter‘ to the directors of ITT was published on Indymedia UK, an open-publishing activist news website. The letter was also sent to the home addresses of all ITT directors, including Bruce Scott, and promised that if ITT took over EDO MBM in Brighton, it would become the subject of protests.
The letter stated bluntly that “If ITT takes over EDO MBM’s business in Brighton, the direct action will continue, not only against EDO MBM but also against ITT elsewhere in the UK. Again, we urge you not to continue the manufacture of weapons in Brighton.” Manure has since been dumped at the gates of ITT’s premises in Basingstoke and several protests have taken place at ITT’s head office in tandem with continued direct action and weekly protests against EDO/ITT in Brighton. Apart from this rather polite letter sent to Scott a year ago, there seems to be no evidence of a threat of violence or intimidation. Nonetheless, Scott’s request not to file his details was granted in October this year.
It seems there is little proof that the directors of ITT faced anything but lawful protest against their manufacture of arms components and their consequent role in enabling war and conflict the world over. It is hard not to conclude that we may be witnessing the entrenching of corporate immunity, with the granting of confidentiality orders signalling that directors of destructive companies may now be exempt from their obligations as outlined in the Companies Act.
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