Exclusive: workers’ pensions invested in five firms linked to conflict which has killed thousands of civilians
'More than half a billion pounds of council workers’ pension money has been directly invested by local councils in arms companies implicated in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, a conflict in which thousands of civilians have been killed.
Council pension funds have sizeable shareholdings in BAE Systems, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, according to nearly 100 freedom of information requests.
Between them, 43 council pension funds directly hold shares worth £566m in the five companies and earned more than £18.5m in dividends in 2018, a period in which civilian deaths reportedly surged and a punishing famine took hold.
The councils also hold hundreds of millions of pounds of shares in the same five companies via pooled investments, which they do not control directly.
The holdings mean thousands of council staff will see their retirement payouts part-funded by the companies, some of which manufacture arms linked to incidents in which civilians and children were killed.
The Guardian gathered the data through the freedom of information website WhatDoTheyKnow.com.
Local authority pension fund trustees are permitted by law to sell investments for ethical reasons, a position cemented by a legal defeat for the government last year, in a case that permitted councils to boycott Israeli firms through their pension schemes.
The Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of the parliamentary committee on arms export controls, said some council employees would be upset to learn how their retirement income was being funded.
He said: “British council workers’ retirement income is being funded by companies that have been allowed by the British and American governments to make much of their profits by satisfying the appetite of Saudi to kill, maim and starve millions of civilians in Yemen.”
Russell-Moyle said some employees at Brighton & Hove Council, within his Brighton Kemptown constituency, would be “furious”.'
Read more: UK councils invest £566 million in arms firms implicated in Saudi's Yemen campaign