'Vile': FOIs reveal Scottish Enterprise is still giving public money to arms companies involved in Yemen, Syria and Egypt

Scottish Enterprise gave £518,595 in 2016-17 to companies in the arms trade whose equipment has been used in conflicts in the Middle East

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT agencies are still giving money to arms trade companies supplying munitions and equpiment for military campaigns in Yemen and government crackdowns in Syria and Egypt.

Response to a freedom of information (FOI) request from Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer showed that Scottish Government agencies had given just over half a million pounds in 2016-17 to companies whose equipment has been used in current conflicts.

Data revealed that Scottish Enterprise had given financial support to Raytheon, which makes missile systems for Saudi Arabia’s air force, thought to have been used in its bombing of Yemen.

Scottish Enterprise also gave financial support to Selex, which was criticised in 2012 over reports it sold radio equipment to the Assad regime in Syria in the same month the European Union imposed wide-ranging economic sanctions on the regime, including freezing assets of the Assad family.

The data comes despite criticism aimed at the Scottish Government last year when it emerged Scottish agencies had given £17m to firms such as Raytheon since 2007, despite calling for an end to British arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“Most Scots will be sickened to learn that their government and its agencies are supporting this vile trade with public money.” Ross Greer MSP

Scottish Greens External Affairs Spokesperson Ross Greer said: “Innocent people are being killed around the world every day by an arms industry that we should have no part of. Most Scots will be sickened to learn that their government and its agencies are supporting this vile trade with public money.

“The Scottish Government must immediately instruct its agencies to end any support given to companies so complicit in immense human suffering. Children are starving and dying in Yemen; Scottish taxpayers' money should play no more role in that tragedy. There are businesses the length and breadth of Scotland to be proud of, and they deserve this support far more.”

Scottish Enterprise gave just over £91,000 to Raytheon. Saudia Arabia’s bombing of Yemen has led to a famine, described as being “of Biblical proportions’”, which led to the worst cholera outbreak in history.

Another FOI request from Scottish Green MSP John Finnie showed that Scottish Government cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing met with the firm in September 2015.

“Our support is focused on non-military developments and ranges from innovation and efficiency improvements to internationalisation and identification of new markets.” Scottish Enterprise spokesperson

Scottish Enterprise also gave £205,000 to Selex which has not only have sold drones to Saudi Arabia, but has a client list including governments criticised over their human rights records, such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Selex met with both Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in September 2015 and Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, last year.

A spokesperson for Scottish Enterprise said: “We work with a number of companies active in the aerospace, defence and marine industries to support their diversification ambitions in a bid to help them grow both in terms of jobs and in turnover. Our support is focused on non-military developments and ranges from innovation and efficiency improvements to internationalisation and identification of new markets.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the money had no direct relation to military equipment: “No public money is used to support the manufacture or export of munitions from Scotland. Our enterprise agencies support businesses across Scotland, including those operating in the aerospace and defence industries, in areas such as innovation, workplace efficiencies and training, involving projects which show significant economic return, particularly in the safeguarding and creation of new jobs.  The Scottish Government has made clear our expectation that the UK Government properly police the export of arms and investigate where concerns are raised.

“Our firm position is that military force should only be sanctioned where it is lawful to do so and in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and that any such action must always seek to avoid civilian casualties.” Scottish government spokesperson

“Our firm position is that military force should only be sanctioned where it is lawful to do so and in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and that any such action must always seek to avoid civilian casualties.”

Scottish Enterprise has also given money to Chemring (£5,400) – which produced CS gas used against civilians in the Egypt Arab Spring protest in 2011 and 2014 Hong Kong democracy protests.

Other companies that Scottish Enterprise has support to include Helmet Integrated Systems (£145,344), Penman Engineering (£5,625) and Turner Aviation (£4,979).

Raytheon System and Selex where unavailable to comment at the time of publication.

Picture courtesy of Ottavia Massimo 

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