British firm Good Energy has announced that it will end its business relationship with G4S, the private security giant with a track record of complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses.
Good Energy claims to be committed to high ethical standards but had contracted a G4S company to conduct door-to-door energy meter readings since 2008. G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and has been involved in serious abuses in the UK deportation system and other privatized services that were previously in public ownership. The recent decision not to procecute G4S or any of its staff over their role in the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who died on a deporation flight while being “restrained” by G4S guards, has sparked outrage.
In a statement published on its website last week, Good Energy hinted that it had felt the pressure by campaigners, saying that “feedback from customers” was one of the reasons behind its decision to drop G4S. This small but significant victory shows that the rapidly emerging campaign against G4S is already succeeding in toxifying the G4S brand.
G4S in the dock
The Good Energy annoucement came as the trial of two activists who occupied the roof of the G4S headquarters near London last month got underway.
As Corporate Watch reports, both activists entered “not guilty” pleas to charges of aggravated trespass under Section 68 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act:
Both defendants pleaded “not guilty” on the basis that, among other things, the activity they are accused of obstructing/disrupting is unlawful (in reference to G4S’s contract with the Israeli Prison Service and services to Israeli settlements and military checkpoints, the use of unlawful restraint techniques in immigration detention centers and so on).
Section 68 states that a person commits the offense of aggravated trespass if he or she trespasses on land where persons are engaged in a lawful activity with the intention of intimidating those persons, obstructing or disrupting that activity.
The draconian bail conditions that had been imposed by the police (not to trespass anywhere in the UK, not to enter the borough of Crawley, and not to enter any land or building associated with G4S anywhere within the UK) were varied by the court. The first two conditions were removed altogether and the third was limited to the boundaries of the G4S HQ concerned. The court seemed to agree with the defendants that the original condition meant they could not enter or use numerous public and private buildings “associated with G4S” (where the company provides security, for example), from banks, hospitals and stations to prisons and possibly the court building itself.
A court hearing date was set for 3 and 4 December 2012 at Horsham and Haywards Heath magistrates courts.