The Guardian London Graduate Fair, organised jointly with the Careers Group, University of London, is an annual event which provides many students with a valuable opportunity to talk face-to-face with potential employers.
However, this year, BAE Systems – the world’s largest arms producer – were allowed to exhibit at the fair and attempt to recruit graduates. Peaceful anti-BAE protesters, many of whom were students, were forcefully removed by security. BAE is beginning to expect opposition wherever it goes.
Both The Guardian and the Careers Group must refuse to host BAE Systems again.
The Guardian has a commendable history of investigative journalism on the arms trade. The work of Guardian journalists David Leigh and Rob Evans saw them named joint winners of the Paul Foot Award for campaigning journalism in 2007, for their exposé of bribery allegations against BAE Systems. The Guardian has an entire mini-site ‘The BAE Files’, explaining the investigation in detail, and outlining the evidence for claims that BAE secretly paid Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia more than £1bn in connection with Britain’s biggest ever weapons contract.
It is unacceptable that after such pioneering work, The Guardian should agree to be associated with an event at which BAE Systems is present. The newspaper’s sponsorship of the Graduate Fair lends legitimacy to a company whose shady activities the Guardian has done so much to expose.
We understand that the Guardian connection to the event is as a media sponsor and that it does not select exhibitors, but we urge it to use its position as media sponsor to make the case to the Careers Group to exclude BAE and other arms companies from future graduate fairs.
We have also written to the Careers Group, University of London, asking them to stop allowing BAE Systems to exhibit at the graduate fair.
It is unacceptable for the careers service of an institution of learning and a newspaper which prides itself on its award-winning investigations into claims of BAE corruption to have any kind of dealings with BAE Systems and to lend legitimacy to its corrupt and damaging practices.
We call on both parties to publicly refuse to allow BAE to exhibit at future Graduate Fairs.
Signed (all in a personal capacity)
and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)