Court case begins to stop UK exporting repressive equipment to US

Prime Minister is asked to fulfil his promise that military-grade equipment will not be exported to the US if it is used for internal repression.

Following the brutal and racist killing of George Floyd by a police officer and the widespread protests that immediately followed and currently continue across all states, our client has become increasingly concerned over the excessive militarised police response to peaceful protesters.

Recent reports suggest that the UK Government is currently permitting the supply and export of equipment to the USA in circumstances where there is a real risk that such UK-manufactured military and law-enforcement equipment is being used against protesters in dangerous and highly inappropriate repressive ways. The Prime Minister has said that any exports comply with human rights guidance, and that the UK is “scrupulous” about this, but questions from MPs have been left unanswered.  Meanwhile, the US President publicly threatens further repressive measures.

In these circumstances our client is compelled to act, by taking court action to ensure that the Prime Minister fulfils his promises and suspends these exports.

Our Client bringing this challenge said:

“I’m outraged that the UK is playing any role in arming the US police departments as they forcefully repress their people and disregard the humanity of Black people in a show of flagrant racism.

I have just returned from 4 years of studying in the US, and as a Black person I saw with my own eyes the inequality and racism there. I also felt the joy of Black community and now my network of Black and brown friends, whom I regard as family, are having to use their right to protest as the only way they can take action to highlight the racist state repression they face every day. I have heard their horrifying accounts of what is happening on the ground and each day I am scared that I will get news that one of them is fatally injured. It seems only a matter of time. Our Government needs to break its silence, stop being complicit and take action, now.”

Ugo Hayter, the DPG partner who is leading this litigation, said:

“Last week saw a number of formal requests by MPs that the Government urgently suspend export of UK-made military and policing equipment to the US. These requests have all been met by silence.

In the meantime new shocking and violent images of unambiguous acts of unlawful internal repression, by US police and National Guard against their own citizens, are released daily. Actions which are a manifestation of the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow laws and systemic racial injustice against black Americans.

The US President Donald Trump, rather than stepping in to stop these crimes, tweets provocative messages, one repeating a barbaric statement parroted by the white supremacist segregationists of yesteryear, and makes threats to deploy the US military, thus inciting and endorsing the already excessive response to these protests.

Last week Boris Johnson was clear in proudly stating that “all exports are conducted in accordance with the consolidated guidance, and the UK is possibly the most scrupulous country in that respect in the world.

My client invites our Prime Minister to make good that claim and take immediate action to suspend these exports from the UK to the US.”

Click here to see our pre-action letter to the Government.

The barrister representing our client is Julianne Morrison of Monckton Chambers.

Ugo Hayter, Adam Hundt and Daniel Carey are acting from Deighton Pierce Glynn. Please contact uhayter@dpglaw.co.uk or ahundt@dpglaw.co.uk for any further information.

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