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Huge Conflict Of Interest Faces Lord Walney Over Proposed Activist Ban

Lord Walney - the Government’s ‘independent’ adviser on domestic violence and disruption. In the last few days, extracts have been released to the media from the report of the Government’s so-called ‘independent adviser on domestic violence and disruption’, Lord Walney has called for campaign groups such as Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil to be banned, despite the groups themselves being denied access to the report.

As John Woodcock MP he was relieved of the Labour whip in 2018 following complaints of sexual harassment by staff, and soon after that left the party – which ‘coincidentally’ called a halt to the investigation, effectively making the sex pest allegations and any potential consequences disappear. Woodcock is widely known for repeated attacks on ‘the left’, and indeed on anyone supporting Palestine or criticising Israel.

The former Chair of ‘Labour Friends of Israel, Woodcock has visited the area numerous times and even planted trees in the illegally annexed land of the ‘Aminadav Forest’ near Bethlehem in the West Bank – planted over the Palestinian village of Al-Walaja where 2,041 Palestinian residents lived before being driven out by Israel during the Nakba.

His Israel obsession is such that he even joined forces with Ian Austin, whose own fixation on Israel and Corbyn has led to suggestions he may be mentally unstable. Similarly to Austin, Woodcock whined that ‘the hard left’ had ganged up and ‘driven him out’ of the Labour Party

But it emerges that far from being ‘independent’, Lord Walney serves vested corporate interests in the arms and fossil fuel industries, whose profits are being threatened by precisely the groups he’s proposing to ban.

Amongst other roles Lord Walney:

  • Chairs the Purpose Defence Coalition, whose members include Leonardo, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, with extensive links to the Israeli government

  • Is a paid adviser to Rud Pederson, lobbyists, whose clients include the oil and gas giant, Glencore

  • Is a paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, whose members include BP.

Lord Walney also visited Israel in January of this year, funded by Elnet, an NGO promoting cooperation between Europe and Israel. He was also named as party of a suddenly-rish consortium which took over the massively pro-Israel Jewish Chronicle. The loss-making 'newspaper' is now funded by shadowy backers which the organisation refuses to name, and is widely regarded as little more than an Israeli government mouthpiece.

The arms manufacturers and those who represent them are, of course, making huge amounts of money out of Israel’s ongoing slaughter in Gaza and the West Bank. As are their shareholders, who include over a dozen of Walney's chums in the House of Lords.

The report calls for ‘exclusion zones’ around arms manufacturing firms like Elbit and oil companies, which would prevent protests such as those by Palestine Action which have successfully halted production at several Elbit sites.

It would effectively criminalise protests by groups like these and those by climate activists like Just Stop Oil.

The revelations echo a previous attempt by the so-called ‘think-tank’, Policy Exchange to brand climate activists as ‘extremists’ in 2019. It later emerged that Policy Exchange was also being funded by Big Oil.

Much of Woodcock’s criticism of groups supporting Palestine is based on the UK – and wordwide – rallies against Israeli genocide in Gaza. It has been suggested that the report is more a bid to silence criticism of Israel, and to serve his own interests, than to actually address genuine ‘political violence and disruption’.

  • It does not, for example, include pro-Israel activists like those who carried out a violent attack including death threats, at the Oxford Gaza encampment last week…

  • Or indeed the far-right activists who rampaged through London and recently attacked the Cenotaph.

  • Or those who attacked a migrant hotel and police officers in Knowsley and caused huge amounts of damage including setting fire to a police vehicle…

No - Woodcock saves his ire for those marching for Gaza against violence and disruption, bagging himself airtime on the laughable ‘Times Radio’ to talk about what he rather hysterically called the lie that these are peaceful marches and it's fine for Jewish people to be on them without any threat of being intimidated”.

This despite the presence of thousands of Jewish people who march every week in London and on similar marches across the UK – and of course around the same time as the ‘antisemitic incident’ staged by Gideon Falter to try and discredit the Gaza marches.

Tim Crosland, Director of the climate justice charity Plan B, said:

“Lord Walney’s report is being presented as ‘independent’. But that’s not true. That’s dishonest. Lord Walney failed to disclose he is in fact the Chair of Defence Purpose Coalition, a group which represents the interests of arms companies, such as Leonardo, which Palestine Action are exposing for facilitating mass loss of life in Gaza. He is also a paid adviser to the Purpose Business Coalition, which includes BP, whose vast profits are threatened by Just Stop Oil. So his recommendations are not surprising, since they serve the vested corporate interests he represents. But it would be a shocking deception on the public for anyone to present those recommendations as ‘independent’”.

Huda Ammori, co-founder of Palestine Action, said:

“Whilst our government remains complicit in the ongoing Gaza genocide, it is our duty to take direct action to halt the production of weapons in Britain which is being used against the Palestinian people. It is a sham for the government to try and claim Lord Walney is an ‘independent’ advisor, who only a few months ago travelled to Israel, whilst families were being massacred a couple of hours away. By writing this report, he is working to protect the interests of Israel’s military supply chain, over the will of the British people, who overwhelmingly support an arms embargo on Israel. Unelected politicians with vested interests in arms companies and genocidal entities should not be given airtime to dictate British policy”.

It was originally expected that the full report would be released on Wednesday morning. It is understood that legal issues may now cause a short delay to publication.  


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