High Court decision: Treasury can ignore climate change and human rights in RBS’ investments

Press Release 20 Oct 2009 admin

A High Court judge today blocked a request for permission to hold a Judicial Review over what campaigners say is the Treasury’s lack of adequate environmental and human rights consideration of Royal Bank of Scotland’s investments.

Campaigners from the World Development Movement, PLATFORM and People & Planet, who brought the case against the Treasury expressed ‘disappointment’ at the ruling and have decided to appeal this decision.

Deborah Doane, the director of the World Development Movement said,

“We’re incredibly disappointed with the court’s decision not to allow to a full hearing on this important case and will be appealing the judgement. Essentially, the judgement means that RBS’ profits come before the climate and human rights of people.This is particularly hard to swallow after Gordon Brown’s soaring rhetoric on climate change yesterday. We’re incredibly angry to see that just one day later the Treasury outrageously argued that for a director of business to take environmental concerns into account would be a ‘burden’ and ‘handicapping’. Yet, this is precisely the kind of positive action that the government should be promotoing, if we are to believe one word of Gordon Brown’s speech yesterday.

The lawyers acting on behalf of the groups laid out compelling evidence against the Treasury, citing numerous controversial companies and projects that the bank had used public money to finance. It was also argued that the as a majority shareholder in the bailed-out bank, the Treasury misdirected itself in relation to the legal obligations concerning communities and the environment under the Companies Act.

Rosa Curling, solicitor for Leigh Day said:

“This is clearly a disappointing result and we have advised our clients to appeal this decision. The government has set up an obligation for all government bodies to assess the environmental consequences of its decision and projects and it has failed to do so in relation to the management of RBS investments.”

Mel Evans, climate and finance campaigner for PLATFORM said,

“Despite this ruling, we still firmly believe that taxpayers’ money should not be used by RBS to underwrite loans that undermine Britain’s domestic and international commitments to halt climate change and human rights abuses. These include companies such as Vedanta Resources, which last week was criticised by the government itself for failing to respect the rights of indigenous people in India; and Tullow Oil, which is involved in oil exploration and extraction on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where a civil war driven by a struggle over land and resources has led to widespead displacement.”

Ian Leggett, director of People & Planet said,

“People & Planet is a network of students and young people. We decided to take the Treasury to court because they are allowing RBS to drive projects endangering our future. This government has given itself a clear legal duty to assess the impacts of its spending on the climatechange which threatens young people and future generations. We believe they have failed in this duty, and we will appeal today’s flawed and dangerous decision.”


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