Council pension fund did include defence industry investments

F22 Raptor - Lockheed Martin attracted pension fund investment.
F22 Raptor – Lockheed Martin attracted Moray pension fund investment.

MORAY COUNCIL HAS made indirect investments in arms sales through their centrally administered staff pension fund.

Last month the local authority was one of several who were named as having investments in companies that dealt in arms sales.

A report published by John Young from Common Weal South Lanarkshire, based on Freedom of Information requests, named Moray alongside Aberdeenshire and Highland councils as an investor in arms sales.

At the time questions asked in the Council resulting from the report produced an assurance that the council had held no direct investments in companies designing, manufacturing or selling arms in the UK and worldwide in the last five years.

However, new documents released under FOI have revealed that the North East Pensions Committee, administered by Aberdeen City Council on behalf of several bodies including the Moray Council and including in its number Moray councillors, did have a stake in defence and technology firm Lockheed Martin valued at over £1million until March this year.

The FOI also revealed that the fund traded in shares of BAE systems between 2006 and 2009 which were sold for just over £1million.

Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against Arms Trade said that the Lockheed Martin investment was significant as both they and BAE have “profited from arming some of the most oppressive dictators and human rights abusers in the world”.

He added: “Local authorities should be striving to promote the social good and leave as positive a footprint as possible.”

Convenor of the north-east pension fund, Aberdeen City Councillor Barney Crockett, said that the fund did have an investment policy that complied with its “legal duty to invest in the best interests of the beneficiaries”.

He added: “While some investment options present difficult choices, the fund has a duty to maximise pension income for members.”

Meanwhile Moray Council, having confirmed in June that they would enquire about their pension fund investments in the defence industry, said in a FOI response to local resident Daniel Roberts yesterday that, through the pension fund administered by Aberdeen City Council, they were party to investments as recently as May 31 this year – including over £3million in Rolls Royce and £675,614 in BAE Systems.

The response added that the total exposure in defence-related investments was just 0.8% of the total £1billion investments by the fund.

In the same FOI response (details online here) Moray Council also said that they had yet to receive an up to date response from Trusts handing other investments – and as yet no decision had been made on if they would publish these when received.