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Activists stand outside the Post Office on Paxtons Court, Newark to encourage a Barclays boycott over Gaza

Activists took a stand in the rain and called on the community to boycott Barclays services — accusing it of helping to fund weapons for Israel.

Jane Kirtley, of Farndon, gathered a group of protestors to stand in front of the Post Office on Paxtons Court, Newark and argues that the banking giant is investing in companies that supply Israel with weapons and military technology. The bank denies this.

Activist organisation Palestine Solidarity Campaign argued that Barclays currently holds more than £2 billion in shares, and provides £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting, to nine companies whose weapons, components, and military technology are being used by Israel. Barclays says this ‘mistakes’ what it does — and that the bank ‘trades in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares’.

Barclays boycott activists. From left to right: Wendy Patterson, Sue Smith, Marylyn Rayner, Ian Thomson and Jane Kirtley
Barclays boycott activists. From left to right: Wendy Patterson, Sue Smith, Marylyn Rayner, Ian Thomson and Jane Kirtley

After Barclays closed its Newark branch in August 2023, the Post Office started hosting sessions every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for Barclays customers.

The group of five activists was outside the Post Office yesterday (May 22) handing out leaflets and explaining to people why they oppose the bank.

They were appealing to Barclays customers to switch their bank account, to let the bank know why.

Jane said: “I'm here today because I think people seeing all the things that they see on TV, about nearly 15,000 children, just children alone, killed in Gaza it is horrendous and over 35,000 Palestinians altogether mostly women and children.

“And people think what can we do? One of the things you can do is to find out if your bank funds the weapons that are killing the people in Gaza.

“If they have no weapons to kill people, this is a power. If you have a bank account, you have that power.

“The worst thing we can all do in this situation is to do nothing. The real message really is violence breeds violence.”

Jane said she would like to build some opposition to the war in Newark — something she feels is an uphill task.

She has already closed her Barclays account.

Activist Wendy Patterson said: “I'm here because I object to any investment in the arms industry, which is fuelling the war in Gaza and elsewhere in the world.”

She said she was ‘very angry’ at the situation in Gaza.

Sue Smith travelled from near East Midlands Airport to be part of the team and raise awareness of the conflict, while Marylyn Rayner said: “The situation in Israel and Palestine is something I've cared about since 1970, I have really followed the conflict.

“It has got to a situation where it is genocidal and anything we can do to stop it, we need to do.”

She labelled Barclays an ‘immoral investor’.

Ian Thomson said: “When you look at what's going on in Gaza, being here is the least we can do.

“I mean, it's not asking much of us and I am quite sure they would be happy to swap places with us any day.

“But I wouldn't want to swap places with them because somebody cares, we've got to care. I can't understand how people cannot look at the pictures we're getting from Israel, from Gaza, Palestine, and not care.

“I'm here to show that I actually care.”

Barclays has tried to explain its role and investments.

A statement on its website, following a question at its AGM, said: “We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a “shareholder” or “investor” in that sense in relation to these companies.

“An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training. For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors. We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.

“As a bank, our job is to provide financial services to thousands of business clients and that includes those in the defence sector. Clients in this sector include US, UK or European companies which supply defence products to NATO and other allies including Ukraine.”

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