Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition

David Cameron’s ancestors were among the wealthy families who received generous reparation payments that would be worth millions of pounds in today’s money

Sanchez Manning, The Independent

Sunday 24 February 2013

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.

As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.

Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.

Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families. Continue reading

Gaddafi And Western Hypocrisy

By Reza PankhurstCountercurrents.org

21 October, 2011

David Cameron’s statement regarding the killing of Moammar al-Gaddafi  will go down as another piece of brash hypocrisy, which would be breathtaking if it was not so expected from the British premier. He mentioned that he was “proud of the role that Britain has played” in the uprising – intending of course the support given by NATO once it was clear that the Libyan people had risen up against the man en masse.

However he neglected to mention some of the other roles that Britain previously played with the Gaddafi regime which have undoubtedly had an effect on the events:

· Many of the weapons used by Libyan dictator’s regime were in fact purchased from Britain. According to the AP: “Britain sold Libya about $55 million worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas”

· The notorious Khamis brigade troops (Libya’s elite forces under the direct command of one of the Gaddafi son’s) contracted an £85 million command and control system from General Dynamics UK – one of the deals cut with the personal backing of the then British PM Tony Blair .

· Not only did the British arm the forces of the Gaddafi regime, they also trained them. The Khamis brigade troops were also trained by the SAS as well as being armed by British companies.

Cameron also stated that today was “a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims”. However, he neglected to mention those victims who were kidnapped and rendered to the Gaddafi regime by the British intelligence service such as Sami al Saadi who is now suing the British government for not only being complicit in his rendition and torture, but actually actively organizing it as highlighted by documents unearthed in Libya. Continue reading

British government settles rendition cases, avoids court battle in which details of CIA torture would come out

Map of flights to CIA "black site" prisons where it could waterboard prisoners and use other forms of torture--while US government officials denied that these illegal practices were being used

Britain to Settle Rendition, Torture Case for Millions

By William Fisher

NEW YORK, Nov 16, 2010 (IPS) – The British government will reportedly pay millions in compensation to seven British nationals who were unlawfully “rendered” to U.S.-run prisons and tortured with the cooperation of British intelligence.

The British press is reporting that ministers and the security services appear to have decided that exposure of thousands of documents in open court was a risk they could not take. The documents presumably would confirm British complicity with the U.S. in the so-called “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represents two of those slated to receive reparations in a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the U.S. extraordinary rendition programme. The organisation said in a statement it was “deeply troubling that while the U.K. and many other countries are now acknowledging and addressing their official complicity in the Bush administration’s human rights abuses, here in the United States the [Barack] Obama administration continues to shield the architects of the torture program from civil liability while Bush-era officials, including former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney, boast of their crimes on national television.”

The ACLU added, “To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in a U.S. court. The U.S. can no longer stand silently by as other nations reckon with their own agents’ complicity in the torture programme. Reckoning with the legacy of torture would restore our standing in the world, reassert the rule of law and strengthen our democracy.” Continue reading