the pork-bolter
No 53, May 2003

Looters on the Loose

Exposed: Worthing link to international financial scam

LOOTERS from Worthing have moved in on the spoils of war-torn Iraq, we can reveal. And we’re not talking here about desperate, impoverished masses grabbing whatever they can for themselves and their families under cover of the chaos and destruction caused by the illegal US/UK invasion. No, we’re talking about a very well established and well connected organisation which is basically helping big greedy multinational companies to cash in on the riches of a country that has now been forcibly 'opened up' to western business interests.

The firm is called Crown Agents and it occupies the large building opposite Splash Point that is best remembered locally as the hotel in the Worthing-based episode of TV comedy Men Behaving Badly. Here, at 3-10 Marine Parade, is the organisation’s International Management Training Centre - its other UK offices are in London and Sutton, Surrey.

Crown Agents’ usually low profile has been raised over the last month or two by its role in the take-over of Iraq. A report on the BBC website on March 11, before the war was launched, commented: "A fairly narrow coterie of international firms has developed a reliable sideline in post-war clean-ups. Construction firms such as the US’s Fluor and Bechtel, Britain’s Costain and Balfour Beatty, and France’s Spie are usually the first in; service providers such as British Crown Agents and Swiss SGS are rarely far behind. Sometimes, this results in a sordid scramble or stitch-up."

This prediction of Crown Agents’ involvement quickly proved spot-on. The Independent reported on March 31: "Crown Agents, a privatised development assistance firm, has become the first British company to win a contract in the American programme to rebuild Iraq. It will be a subcontractor to International Resources Group (IRG), a US professional services firm providing technical assistance for planning and management of the reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in Iraq."

So what exactly does Crown Agents do? If you want a straight answer, the one place not to look is the firm’s own website, www.crownagents.com, which projects a predictably rose-tinted view of the organisation and its role in the world. It claims: "We help countries and public sector entities and businesses within those countries, to grow. We do this by working in partnership with our clients to confer the skills, ideas and material resources each needs at every stage of their development."

But you can begin to understand what all this ‘help’ and ‘development’ might really be about by glancing at the history section on the Crown Agents site. This reveals that its beginnings were in oiling the cogs of the British empire in the 19th century: "Crown Agents originated in 1833, when the Joint Agents General for Crown Colonies were appointed by H.M. Government. The Agents’ remit was to reduce costs and increase efficiency in the procurement of goods and services to the Crown Colonies."

Exactly 170 years later, Crown Agents is still busy facilitating imperialism, though these days the global greed machine prefers the Stars and Stripes to the Union Jack as its flag of convenience. Privatised in March 1997, Crown Agents lurks in that murky area between state and business that has become so central in the new age of corporate government. Its board boasts some notable links to the world of big business and banking - and these are just the ones actually declared on its own website!

Chairman Peter Berry is "a director of listed investment trusts and Kier Group plc". Deputy chairman Francis Summer is "a non-executive director of the Bankers Investment Trust plc". Chief executive Jack Garvey has enjoyed a career with Unilever, Proctor and Gamble and Pepsico. Its holding entity is The Crown Agents Foundation, whose membership includes token ‘worthy’ organisations such as Christian Aid and British Overseas NGOs for Development. But the vast majority of names of both permanent and elected members hail, once again, from the world of business.

There is the International Chamber of Commerce, for instance, and the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, not to mention Barclays Bank, British Telecommunications plc, Securicor plc, the Securities Institute, Standard Chartered Bank, Tate and Lyle plc and Unilever plc, for whom Crown Agents chief exec Mr Garvey put in such good work over the years.

The British Government is also still very much involved with Crown Agents and is a Special Member of the Foundation. Indeed, it is important to remember that without governments to help them on their way, the sharks of multinational business would not be able to operate. Big companies can’t wage wars to take over ‘new markets’ across the world. They need governments to do that for them. Big companies can’t tax the population to pay for the wars or the ‘rebuilding’. They need governments to do that, too. That’s why it’s so vital to these interests that political parties like Neo Labour are ‘business friendly’. Together, these partners in crime form a double act of con merchants ripping off the rest of us in the most lucrative scam you could imagine. Every year, more and more of our tax money is redirected by our corrupt central government straight into the pockets of the big business fat cats.

We have been victims of this in the UK for years, with the constant privatisation of services that used to be under public ownership. Now it’s the Iraqi people’s turn to enjoy the wonderful world of business ‘democracy’, as author Naomi Klein explained in The Guardian on April 14. She wrote: "Rather than rebuilding, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neo-liberals can design their dream economy: fully privatised, foreign-owned and open for business... What is being planned is not reparations, reconstruction or rehabilitation. It is robbery: mass theft disguised as charity; privatisation without representation."

There may still be some readers out there who think the war on Iraq was fought because of breaches of UN resolutions or the weapons of mass destruction that were strangely never used. But Crown Agents’ involvement in Iraq, and the way it is linking government with big business in a greedy scramble to strip Iraq bare, is yet another factor pointing towards an entirely different agenda behind the whole sordid, bloody affair.

* On Thursday May 1, activists from Worthing picketed Crown Agents’ London HQ, holding a banner across its front door and handing out hundreds of leaflets, before joining in the main Mayday protests against global capitalism and its wars.

* Worthing Against War is staging a protest in Montague Place, Worthing, on Saturday May 24 at 2pm, focusing on use of cluster bombs.


71.39% boycott election

NEARLY three quarters of the Worthing public declined to take part in the borough council elections on May 1. The turnout was a tiny 28.61% per cent of the electorate, meaning a whopping 71.39% did not vote. The party politicians were too caught up in the ins and outs of the seat gains and losses - which ended in a 18-18 tie between Lib Dems and Tories - to see the bigger truth. This is that the vast majority of people in Worthing do not care less which particular bunch of politicians is in charge at the Town Hall. They know that all party political hacks act the same way once in power, whatever the colour of their rosette. And they also know that the local council doesn’t have any real power anyway. Whoever you vote for, whoever gets in, your life stays the same. You spend your years on this earth in employed slavery, forced to give up most of your existence to helping somebody else get rich at your expense. Most of the paltry money you earn just pays for the roof over your head. Meanwhile, year after year, you get the distinct impression that everything that used to belong to you - used to belong to us all - is being stolen from you behind your back. Privacy, space, freedom, time, health care, countryside, fresh air. Elections are just a way of asking you which particular man in a suit you would most like to rob you blind.

Wilko’s use slave labour

A PROTEST was held outside Wilkinson’s in the Guildbourne Centre, Worthing, on Saturday May 3, to highlight its use of prison slave labour. The action was part of a national campaign by the Campaign Against Prison Slavery (The Cardigan Centre, Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LJ, email againstprisonslavery@mail.com). The campaign explains: "British prisoners are now seen as a readily exploitable labour force, a Third World colony in our own backyard, cheap, non-unionised, available and literally compelled to work. Wilkinson’s are one of many companies profiting from the slave labour of prisoners. In Swansea prison for example, where prisoners are forced to do packing work for Wilkinson’s, prisoners are paid little more than £1 per day. This greedy company would rather use slave labour than give more work to their own workers or employ new ones."

Anti-Globalisation Band Night

THURSDAY JUNE 5

7.30PM- 11PM

Back of Vintner’s Parrot

Warwick Street

Worthing


Quick-change Nick strikes again!

IN this world of ever-shifting political agendas it is comforting to know that you can rely on larger-than-life Worthing councillor Nick John to remain constant. Constant, that is, in the ever-shifting nature of his political agenda! Regular readers will recall that Tory Nick was a Lib Dem councillor from 1990 to 1994, a would-be parliamentary candidate for the UK Independence Party in 1997 and an actual candidate for the Referendum Party in West Worthing that same year, before switching to the Conservatives.

Now he’s at it again. An article in the Worthing Guardian (April 4) featured him relating how he had joined half a million people on an anti-war march in Australia. Indeed, activists from Worthing Against War had encountered him at the Town Hall expressing his support for an anti-war petition. But, before news of his anti-war stance had even reached the general public, Nick had changed his mind again! He explained: "Now the war is underway, people should stop the marches. They are just taking up police time."

He added, ominously: "Anyone who feels really strongly should wait until after the war to put their twopenneth in." Brace yourselves, folks. One of Nick reasons for supporting war was that "the people of Iraq are not free to protest". Since then, of course, the Americans have been merrily shooting dead any of the newly liberated Iraqis who have the cheek to demonstrate against their saviours. Does this mean another of Nick’s quick-change routines is on the way? Watch this space!

* As a special service to our readers in June 2000 we devised a cut-out and wipe clean amusement for our readers, which we called Nick’s Party Game. Hours of fun were to be had by dressing Nick up in the costumes suited to the various political parties with which we reckoned he might one day be associated. We are now proud to add a 2003 update to the game, with two cute new costumes for you to fix to your Nick character. Enjoy!

(SORRY FOLKS - ONLY AVAILABLE IN PRINTED VERSION!)


Cops pass the blame

CHIEF Inspector Russ Whitfield of Worthing police has branded local anti-war protesters "irresponsible" because they are "eating into police resources", reported the Worthing Herald (April 24). Said the town’s top cop, who is not known for his tolerance of democratic dissent: "They insist on walking in the road and not on the pavement, causing hassle for residents. Their intention is to cause mayhem to the establishment." He added that the extra police deployed would be better used dealing with criminals, a sentiment no doubt shared by anyone unfortunate enough to have been followed around town by vanloads of Chf Insp Whitfield’s finest, including the usual sinister video camera-wielding "evidence gatherers".

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported (April 18) that UK police are to be armed with stun guns which incapacitate people by giving them a 50,000 volt electrical shock and causing "intolerable pain". Expert Brian Rapper of Nottingham University warned that when police recently showed off the "Taser", crowd control was one of the suggested uses. That should put an end to all that inconvenient "expressing an opinion" nonsense, then.

* News from a Durrington teenager of an incident on May 4, when he was stopped in broad daylight by a police riot van near the leisure centre. The reason? "You were looking at us? Normally when people look at us it’s because they’ve done something wrong." Sgt Sullivan and his team then quizzed the teenager in depth about his t-shirt featuring the anarchic Urban 75 website and then took down all his details for the records, without giving any indication of exactly what crime they suspected him of committing...

* An astonishing item on Meridian TV news on April 2. Police turned up in force at a house in Worthing, after a stone hit a car. On finding the culprit was a three year old child, what do you think the cops did? Retreat with sheepish smiles after a quiet word with his mum? Oh no, they "booked" the infant, taking down all his details to be added to police files. So that’s what Chf Insp Whitfield meant by "dealing with criminals". Keep up the good work, chaps!


New mayor is no mason

THE FREEMASONS have lost their hold on the Mayor’s office at Worthing Town Hall! Readers may recall we wrote to James Doyle asking him to fill in our questionnaire. And we are pleased to report that the new mayor duly completed his form, ticking box (b), for "I am not a Freemason". He adds: "I hope this is informative and entertaining for you!" Well, it’s certainly the former, Mr Doyle, thank you very much, sir. He goes on: "Of course, if you took time to check the minutes of council meetings..." err, well, we do mean to get round to it, Mr Doyle, and we’re sure they’re jolly interesting and all that, but... "you would already know I have supported the open declaration of Freemasonry - or anyone else who hides in anonymity and pseudonyms!". Outrageous! What a slur! Is he suggesting that the Porkbolter representative who wrote to him was not the REAL Pinky Perkins?!

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

DODGY spin doctors have been much in evidence in Worthing of late, trying to bulldoze public opinion into accepting two massive and unpopular schemes - the West Durrington housing development off Titnore Lane and the Asda/Wal-Mart supermarket proposal at Worthing Sixth Form College. In both instances the trick seems to be to produce some highly dubious "statistics" claiming that the public already back the money-making schemes in the hope that people will decide to go with what they are told is the flow and give up their resistance. But campaigners on both issues are not being fooled and are keeping up the fight. Green Issues - hired to ease the way to the massive Titnore Lane development at West Durrington in the face of overwhelming public opposition - is making a public appearance this month. A representative will be addressing the Ferring Conservation Society on Friday May 30 at 2pm at Ferring Village Hall. (UPDATE - SINCE WE PUT THIS UP ON THIS SITE THE FIRM HAS POSTPONED THE MEETING!) Obviously the intention is to ‘sell’ the development to Ferring residents. This is an open meeting and campaigners are urging as many opponents of the Titnore development as possible to turn up and ask awkward questions. For more info on the Titnore issue go to www.protectourwoodland.fsnet.co.uk, mail info@protectourwoodland.fsnet.co.uk or go to the next worthing eco-action meeting at 7.45pm on Tuesday June 3 upstairs at The Downview, West Worthing. For the Asda campaign go to www.fpara.org.uk.
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"WE have been hypnotised by civilisation. We have confidence in its power. We believe its lies. It’s time to break the spell, to begin to awaken from your slumber. Slowly now, I’ll count backwards from ten and by then you will have opened your eyes and be fully awake. Fully conscious. So here we go, just relax and count backwards with me..." To find out what happens next you will just have to go to an inspiring new website from Ireland, called spellbreaker
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ANOTHER big night out is being staged at The Vintner’s Parrot in Warwick Street, Worthing, on Thursday June 5, 7.30pm -11pm. Final line-up of bands for the Anti-Globalisation Gig had not been confirmed as we went to press, but it’s sounding good. Check for updates on our events section
* * *

ENCOURAGEMENT for battling residents in the Beeches Avenue area of Worthing, with the borough council confirming its opposition to plans for 90 houses on the slopes of the South Downs near Lyons Farm. But unfortunately the story is not over yet. Developer Hargreaves has already appealed and the issue looks set to go to a public inquiry. It’ll be a tough battle.
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FEEL like getting out a bit more in Worthing? Why not contact rdocwra@hotmail.com for details of the ongoing Green Social evenings or check out Sunny Worthing Arts Group? Or, for the more active, join a new Worthing-based hunt saboteurs’ group. Contact worthinghuntsabs@aol.com or phone 01903 773025.

Criticism wastes resources

MEMBERS of the public finding themselves in possession of a copy of this newsletter are hereby warned that under Section 14a of the Subversion and Terrorism Act 2004 they are liable to be charged with Gross Irresponsibility and Waste of Police Resources, as incurred by the necessary surveillance, arrest and torture of all persons suspected of the perusal of printed material critical of Her Majesty’s Government and/or associated agencies, armies and dodgy property developers.

It’s a pig place, Worthing!

The Pork-Bolter is a local totally independent volunteer-produced newsletter that gets its name from an actual real old nickname for Worthing people, dating back to those distant days before Tony Blair was World President and people had started replacing their brain cells with mobile phone ringtones. To get the next six issues through the post send a donation of at least £3 payable to The Porkbolter. Drop us a line at PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ. You can send e-mail to porkbolter@eco-action.org. E-mail subscriptions are also available.

Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no more shopping at Wilkinson’s for us.


and finally ...
Reclaim Your Town, Reclaim Your Life!

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