Analysis Announcement Breaking Exclusive

Exclusive: no response from Liverpool council as lawyers show could sack whole ‘disgraceful’ ACC arms fair board. New protest Saturday

Further protest Saturday, as city council stays silent and as public interest legal firm points out ownership of ACC means council could sack entire ‘disgraceful’ board to cancel weapons event

Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson claims she is helpless to prevent the weapons event – but a resident’s lawyers disagree

Liverpool City Council has been silent for almost two weeks as the clock ticks down to a controversial arms fair in the city, after lawyers acting for a resident pointed out that the city mayor’s claims to be powerless to cancel the event fall apart on inspection of the papers drawn up to create the council-owned venue company.

The Labour party whipped its majority on the council to vote against the event, but legal advice shown to the council describes the legal challenge to the arms fair as ‘credible’.

The Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) wrote to the council again on 22 September with a detailed dismantling of the claimed helplessness, based on the ACC’s ‘articles of association’ that give the council the power to sack the company’s entire board if it chooses – and the comments of the councillor responsible for the council’s link with the business that the board had behaved ‘disgracefully’.

PILC’s five-page letter to the council’s legal adviser points out:

Nature of ACC Liverpool Group Ltd.

First, the Articles of Association at Companies House state that the controlling or sole shareholder can control the composition of the Board:

1. That a member with a majority of the voting rights in the company has the power at any time to appoint or remove any person as a director (article 13.2).

2. That, with the approval of a sole member, the directors may appoint someone as a director.
This gives the City Council the power to replace directors who will not follow the policies of its owner with directors who will.

The letter goes on to remind the council that its cabinet member responsible for the company’s business described its conduct as ‘disgraceful’ in a public comment on its decision to proceed with the event after last year’s was cancelled:

Our letter of 27 August quoted Cllr Harry Doyle as stating:

“Whilst LCC is the shareholder, it does not have all, or even the majority of board members. Out of the 7 board members, only 2 are appointed by LCC. This particular event was agreed by the ACC board at some point last year I believe and both of the LCC appointed board members, which included Cllr Wendy Simon, voted against the event taking place. Disgracefully, they were in the minority.”..

Cllr Harry Doyle states that LCC is “the” shareholder, ie that there is only one shareholder. In any event it is clearly the majority shareholder. However it seems either that Cllr Harry Doyle is not aware of the system for appointing directors or is it that the Council has allowed control of the company to be taken by other people? Whilst we are concerned that Cllr Harry Doyle considers that the people running ACC behave “disgracefully” why have they been left in place?

[As the articles allow the shareholder to take any decision it wants] Do you accept that the Council therefore had the power both to control the Board of Directors and to take any decision which ACC Liverpool Group Ltd could take? If not, please confirm what decisions the Council cannot take and how those decisions have to be taken.

The letter also explicitly addresses Mayor Anderson’s statement:

In addition to the comments of Cllr Harry Doyle, set out above, Mayor Joanne Anderson stated on 27 August 2021:

“…the inescapable fact is that it is lawful and we have no public powers to stop it … The bottom line is that the council has no power to interfere with bookings taken by ACC Liverpool, and has no member representatives on its board.”

It seems that the Mayor has also misunderstood her powers and the make up of the Board when making her decision. Please confirm that the statements by the Mayor and Cllr Harry Doyle are incorrect, or whether the City Council as a whole and those advising them stand by the statements.

PILC then lists the actions that would persuade its client to withdraw his action:

i) The Council will ensure that the ACC Liverpool Group Limited will adopt an ethical events policy during 2021 and that they will do this after consulting with campaigners from Liverpool, and also Liverpool City Councillors.
ii) The Council concedes that it was wrong to assert that it could do nothing to stop the ‘Electronic Arms Fair’ being held in Liverpool – for the reasons outlined above.
iii) Further to point ii) a public apology is made by the Mayor of Liverpool to the effect above, and that further to litigation brought on behalf of [redacted], it is now clear that the City Council as the major shareholder could have dismissed the Directors who made the decision to accept the booking from AOC Europe.
iv) Further to point iii) the apology is made on the Liverpool City Council website and in the Liverpool Echo – taking out a full page advert.

Despite the clarity of PILC’s case and the short time remaining until the arms fair goes ahead, Skwawkbox understands that the council has made no response in the almost two weeks since the letter was sent and that PILC yesterday warned the city’s authorities that it is seeking its client’s instructions on taking the matter to the High Court.

A further protest against the event and the council’s inaction is taking place at 12.30pm this Saturday in the city:

The city has also claimed it can’t afford to cancel the event. However, iconic band Massive Attack has already cancelled its planned gig at the same venue in protest and unions and others are likely to follow.

Update: giant union Unite has announced it will make no further bookings at the venue without consulting with the local community, unless the event is cancelled.

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52 comments

  1. What potential financial liability would the council or the body managing the venue be exposed to if this event was cancelled by them.

    1. What potential financial liability would the council or the body managing the venue be exposed to if future events were cancelled on the back of the arms fair.

      1. lundiel – I like you have absolutely no idea.
        But the damages claimed against the venue by the exhibitors could be quite substantial plus any decision to cancel by the council may well be overridden by the government inspectors currently in charge of the council.

      2. If other musicians/groups and organisations cancel events in protest (which I hope happens) then it could mean substantial loses compared to cancelling the disgraceful arms fair!

      3. Richard – the Tory commissioners who were appointed by Jenrick and who now report to Michael Gove are probably weighing up the options as we speak

      1. lundiel – Don’t be silly and naive. The potential liabilities could be quite substantial.

      2. So what? It’s a price worth paying for Berliners and in Liverpool, ACC has more to lose by going ahead by the looks of things. Anyway, it’s going to have to sign up to an ethical policy so such events are ending.
        Calling me silly and naive is rich coming from you.

      3. lundiel – It is a ridiculous to try and compare Berlin buying a revenue generating appreciating asset for the benefit of their citizens with a council paying out funds they don’t have because they chose to break a contract and getting nothing in return for this expenditure.

      4. Lundiel, I admire Berlin for voting to effectively nationalise 500k homes and demonstrates what can happen if the will is there.

      5. Exactly Richard. Unfortunately, you’d have people like SteveH complaining about Communism, wasting their taxes, etc if it happened here.

    2. What potential financial liability would Keir Starmer have if a future Corbyn government has him arrested for ignoring MI5 / MI6 / CIA collusion in extensive state inflicted torture?

    3. SteveH 05/10/2021 at 2:23 pm :

      ‘The potential liabilities could be quite substantial.’

      If you think they could be – ‘…quite substantial.’ – try having a stab at answering your own original question.

      What makes you think the rest of us would have a better idea than you?

      Any liabilities – may – be substantial – the message to the Arms Traders may be priceless.

      1. George – Do you honestly think that arms traders will give a toss. It may cause them a little inconvenience but they would simply find another venue with a fistful of Liverpool’s council funds in their pockets.

      2. Of course it will make a huge difference. Arms dealers hate publicity, they’re about the only people who do. The more people demonstrate against them, by any means possible, the less likely it is that weapons production becomes an essential part of the economy.
        You really don’t get this grassroots politics game do you.

    4. SteveH 05/10/2021 at 3:35 pm :

      That would be entirely up to the Arms Traders.

      At least Liverpool wouldn’t have helped them to sell their sh*t products.

      Integrity over money, any day.

      1. Absolutely right George. Integrity, principle and decency count for so much more. It would certainly send the right message to manufacturers of arms that they wouldn’t be welcome.

      2. …Integrity over money, any day…

        👏👏👏

  2. It looks likely that Liverpool City Council has entered in a contract with a private company to run events from this venue. It would depends on the wording of the contract as to whatever LCC can effectively oppose the Arm Fair.
    However, if the wording of the contract is what the Skwawkbox is reporting in this article, LCC is giving excuses and can cancel the Arms Fair is it wishes.
    If the contract signed by LCL with the Private Company takes the control of how the venue is used from LCC, the question to ask is why this contract was signed by LCC in the first place.

    1. Is LCC in charge of its own destiny whilst they are still operating under the supervision of Tory appointed commissioners.

      1. lundiel – On the contrary, my comments about the commissioners being in charge of LLC are relevant and this situation may well have an impact on the decisions made. As I understand it the commissioners have the power to overrule council decisions.

  3. Yes Steve H I new you couldn’t resist the money argument.Have you considered the deaths and destruction these people cause? Thought not….How much value do you put on r childs life Steve or a family’s life in Gazza or Belfast or Mozambique?…….What about the war machine sailing up and down the S.China sea?……just Jonny foreigner or a bunch of natives who cares Steve H Hall….clearly not you or the fascists in the Labour party.

    1. Joseph – Whether you like it or not we are where we are and legally binding contracts will be in force. The council can change its terms of reference to make sure that this situation doesn’t re-occur but the council has limited funds and the money can only be spent once. It won’t be you who’s essential services get reduced.
      You can virtue signal all you want but the cancellation of this one exhibition, which will more than likely just find a new venue, is unlikely to make a jot of difference.
      Given that Liverpool council is operating under Tory supervision it may not even be a decision that they are allowed to take.

      1. …we are where we are…

        Clearly you’ve never pointed a weapon at someone with the intention of killing them. Obviously never had to gather up a loved one before their funeral. Lost a child to a cluster bomblet or land mine?

        I could sorta of agree with you if it was about genuine defence. Genuine defence is cheap. To assault however….did you know that you need four times the numbers as attackers to get the victory? Seems wasteful, no? All of them people, with lives and loved ones. But we are where we are, aren’t we?

        And the reason why are where we are is because the government makes a few quid from selling crap for top prices. The police are better equipped than the military, it’s all about the cash. Is that what you’re about troll? Because we are where we are after all…

    2. Good point about the South China Sea. Things are in a bad way. After China slapped Biden and Putin did an uppercut the neocons still in place, and the neodemons want blood. No sign of China backing down to the armada. In fact they have been teasing Taiwans air defences. Let’s hope and pray for sanity.

  4. If the Mayor’s cabinet and the entire Labour council are just sticking their fingers in their ears (for nearly 2 weeks) on this, then well done Skwawkbox for publicising their reaction.

    The 3 monkeys that serve as idioms for ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” are supplemented by a fourth, Do No Evil, which Liverpool CC seems happy to disregard.

    It’s not right.

    1. quertboi ….Its not right “and that is something nowadays that few people recognise.or point out.We should not weigh up the money argument when peoples lives or on the line and faciliated by a Labour council.Yes a Labour council that shows no signs of morality or caring whatsoever.Your few simple words “Its not right” resonates with millions of people across the world and if only some would stop and consider that it is bloodywell not right.we could save millons of lives.The merchants of death are upon us and I pray that some sanity prevails.

      1. Joseph – That’s big of you considering that you won’t be the one suffering because your services have been withdrawn. You also haven’t considered that Liverpool council is currently operating under the supervision of government appointed officers so it may not be the council’s decision to make.

      2. If it isn’t, then they should say so. Accountability works in strange ways, unlike un-accountability which they seem to cherish more.

      3. Joseph, Because the media ignores what it doesn’t like, people have little or no idea of how close to disaster we are. Biden is no JFK . Your final sentence stands. Peace all.

    2. Qwertboi, I totally agree with the comments you have made regarding Liverpool City Council and the vile arms fair.

  5. I guess it’s what happens when you have tories essentially running the council, as well as choosing the mayoral candidate for labour…

    1. I thought that the government had appointed officers to oversee and supervise the running of Liverpool council.

  6. It’s a sick world when there are people who will carry out a cost benefit analysis when in comes to weighing the lives of millions of people (mostly in the poor countries of the world) against their own holiday in the sun, new Audi and increased pension pot.

    1. goldbach – … I’d agree if that was the case but we all know that any cuts would fall on the vulnerable.

      1. No. It’s the bombs that are falling on the vulnerable .. in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Gaza etc. etc.

      2. goldbach – I’m struggling to understand how stuffing the exhibition organiser’s pockets full of LCC;s cash and forcing them to find another venue where they can exhibit their deadly drones is going to change that.

  7. I should have gone to bed by now but I have to say that time and again I see the blatant disregard for humanity coming out of Starmers mouthpiece on here and I can never aceppt that we can ever be the same party as people like the above and hope to maintain a sense of decency and respect for the dignity of ordinary people across the world that want only to look after their families and children and be accepted. as human beings.I have to say reluctantly that the Labour party with members like Steve H or whatever his name have no longer any place in a civilised society and the same for the supporters of the leader of the Labour party and the evil that rules the Labour party with a Iron fist and a bloody dagger….solidarity and disillusioned good night.!

      1. Which makes his answer more profound! People who policies won’t affect but have a very real sorrow for the people they will affect are kind,compassionate and have gazillions of empathy for the millions suffering in this god forsaken country! They’re called socialists.

    1. Joseph, another great comment from you and any decent person would share those sentiments!

  8. Wish the Council would sack the directors who voted for it and replaced them.
    Then immediately cancelled ‘The Merchants of Death Event’ taking a financial hit (why a crowdfunding appeal could sort out that bill?).
    And you never know and another non-oppressive organisation or rock artists took over the booking LCC could be quids in and better human beings in the process. Win, win?

  9. As socialists you should stick your head above the parapet and when the doubters say can’t do you just say hey arms fair feck off!
    The consequences shouldn’t count but if it means a large Bill to the Council just put out a crowdfunding appeal.
    Socialists stand with the oppressed.
    “As cowards flinch and traitors sneer we’ll keep the Red Flag flying here.”

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