Liverpool council cabinet continues to hide reality of its ability to cancel controversial weapons event and protect ‘merchants of death’ – but leak reveals that legal challenge is ‘credible’
The people of Liverpool have been fighting to force the cancellation of the ‘AOC’ weapons fair taking place soon in the city, after Labour ‘whipped’ its councillors not to vote against the event and Liverpool’s mayor claimed she was powerless to stop it even though the council owns the venue. Thousands gathered earlier this month in the city centre for a march and rally against the event, hearing from local Palestinian and Yemeni communities, as well as figures such as Jeremy Corbyn and actress Maxine Peake.
The Labour establishment in the city responded by removing critics from the region’s Labour WhatsApp group and claiming that cancelling the event would be economically damaging as well as legally impossible – despite the cancellation of other large events at the venue in protest – but a legal challenge from a local resident argued that the mayor’s excuses were an “improper and unlawful delegation of powers”.
Now the council – and the Tory commissioners imposed on the city with Keir Starmer’s complicity – have forced Liverpool councillors to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before allowing them to see the legal advice provided by the council’s lawyers on the issue, as the Merseyside Pensioners Association pointed out:
But despite the council’s efforts to ensure secrecy, some details of its own legal advice have leaked – most critically, so far, that the Public Interest Law Centre’s (PILC) legal challenge on behalf of a local resident – that the mayor’s excuses are unlawful – is ‘credible‘, in other words that it would stand a good chance of success in court if the judicial review goes ahead that PILC has threatened if the council does not use its lawful powers the event.
This raises a number of questions about the council’s conduct, but especially that of why, if the council knows it’s likely to lose in court, it continues to do nothing except protect the arms fair and those who profit from selling means of killing and oppressing people.
To be clear: the economic argument about the loss of revenue from the weapons fair doesn’t stand up because other events are being cancelled because of it, with unions now also reconsidering their conference arrangements there – and the legal argument looks as shaky as a two-legged tripod.
So why are mayor Joanne Anderson, her cabinet and the Labour party that controls the city council still refusing to act?
Protests continue tomorrow with a lobby of the full council meeting taking at Everton Park Sports Centre, Great Homer Street, Liverpool L5 5PH from 3.30pm.
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