Council ‘categorically denies’ any direct investment in armament firms

No direct investment in arms trade
No direct investment in arms trade

MORAY COUNCIL HAS dismissed claims that it had made direct investments in armament companies when the issue reported by insideMoray was discussed in the council chamber yesterday.

Earlier in the day we highlighted an investigation by Common Weal South Lanarkshire that had named Moray as one of nine Scottish local authorities who had made direct investments in such as BAE.

In an article penned by their member John Young, it was claimed that the nine councils were responsible for investments in companies that had armed “human rights abusers” in various parts of the world.

During a meeting of the Moray Council yesterday, SNP councillor Pearl Paul raised the issue, pointing to the insideMoray report and asking the Council’s Chief Financial Officer, Margaret Wilson, for an assurance that, as reported by insideMoray, no such direct investments had ever been made by the local authority.

Forres councillor George Alexander also said he had raised the issue with Mrs Wilson after hearing from a member of the public who said he would no longer pay his Council Tax, as he believed that the council were “using the money to invest in armament companies”.

Mrs Wilson said: “In the last ten years we have never had any direct investment. What I had to do is ask the latest date we have from market trusts dated in June 2015, when we were asked under a FOI if we had any investments.

“We wrote then to the Trusts formally and also our pensions people to see if they have any investments. At the time we did have [investments] in Rolls Royce and companies similar to that [through] investments in unit trusts, but those investments change day to day.

“At no point ever has the council directly invested in any of these companies and as a result of the request I have written to our pensions and unit trusts people as of yesterday’s date to see if we have any investments either in the specific companies or any armaments companies.”

The meeting was also informed by Councillor John Cowe, who is the Moray Council representative on the North East Scotland Pensions board, administrators of Moray Council’s pension scheme, that he had been made aware of the situation and would be bringing it up at their next meeting.