G4S in dark over Labour plan to boycott security firm over Israel ties


Global security giant G4S has told the JC it would be “disappointed” if Labour ended its deal to secure the party’s annual conference over the firm’s links to Israel.

But a company executive said it had not had a formal clarification of last week’s decision by Labour’s national executive committee to boycott G4S over its work in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Britain’s largest security firm has repeatedly come under attack for supplying and maintaining technical equipment in some Israeli prisons in the West Bank. It previously said it would not renew contracts with the Israelis, but some are still in force.

The Labour decision came after the majority of NEC members had left last Tuesday’s meeting. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy Tom Watson were among those who were not present for the vote.

Labour currently has one contract with G4S for its annual conference – although it is understood that it is not of significant financial value to the security firm.

The deal would be affected by a boycott however, and could possibly lead to the security firm suing Labour.

Eric Alexander, G4S head of UK events, said: “G4S has been securing the Labour Party's annual conference for well over a decade and the feedback from officials and the police on our work this year, as in the past, was extremely positive.

“Clearly we would be disappointed not to continue such a successful working relationship, but as yet we have not had a formal clarification of what the NEC vote might mean for next year's event.”

The NEC vote came on the same day that Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn told Labour Friends of Israel that the party must do more to tackle delegitimisation of Israel.

The party has refused to comment on the NEC vote, with a spokesman saying it does not comment on internal party matters.

Following the vote, We Believe in Israel director Luke Akehurst, a former member of the NEC, said that he hoped the decision “would be reviewed as soon as possible".

“I am shocked the NEC would casually pass a motion which both endangers the jobs of members of GMB union that work for G4S and which drives a coach and horses through the Labour Party’s long-standing policy against boycotts,” he said.

“This decision is not remotely consistent with the Labour Party’s stance against boycotts and hope it will be reviewed as soon as possible.”

The Fair Play Campaign Group, the joint initiative of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to co-ordinate activity against boycotts of Israel and other anti-Zionist campaign, also condemned the move.

A spokesperson said: "The Labour NEC has decided to boycott G4S for providing the metal detectors and security guards that protect Israeli civilians from terror attacks.

"The NEC vote calls into question Labour's commitment to security and conflicts with the Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn's strong statements opposing the de-legitimisation of Israel.

"So what is Labour's policy now? This decision is pointless gesture politics and we urge Labour's General Secretary to ensure G4S is treated fairly and that this boycott is reversed."

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