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Arms traders fund ‘ethical’ university

Student finds investment rules don’t cover research income

ONE of Britain’s top universities has received millions of pounds from arms companies in spite of its own ethical investment policies, a student who made this discovery via a freedom of information (FOI) request said yesterday.

PhD student and anti-arms campaigner Elliot Murphy spoke of his shock at finding that University College London (UCL) had gained £3.6 million from weapon sellers for various research projects.

The school pledged to divest from arms firms in 2009, pushed by a two-year campaign by Disarm UCL and revelations that it held over £1.5 million in stocks in weapons manufacturers Cobham Plc and Smiths Group.

Cobham is known for its Hellfire missiles, regularly used in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and in Israeli raids on Lebanon.

Mr Murphy told the Star that while the university received “millions from corrupt firms implicated in global human rights abuses” its students lived in inappropriate housing.

“Despite the university implementing an ethical investment policy from 2009 onwards as a result of a previous anti-arms trade campaign, this policy relates only to stocks and shares and UCL currently seems to apply far less stringent ethical criteria when determining research and consultancy contracts,” he added.

“UCL’s priorities become more clear and disturbing when it refuses to cut extortionate student rent while receiving millions from arms firms implicated in global human rights abuses.

“UCL needs to sever its links with a deeply unethical and harmful industry.”

In May, UCL management was forced to pay a whopping £75,000 in compensation to students who suffered poor living conditions in one of the university’s halls of residence.

The payouts came on top of a previous £100,000 given to students complaining of similar issues last year.

Mr Murphy’s FOI request found that, between 2010 and 2015, UCL picked up a further £1.3m from the Ministry of Defence and other government departments for several projects.

Arms companies involved in funding UCL departments included the infamous Airbus Defence & Space, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin.

A total of £236,000 was given to the university by Lockheed Martin alone.

UCL management did not comment on the revelations before the Star went to press.


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