The University of Edinburgh has bowed to pressure from students and campaign groups and is withdrawing all funding from Ultra Electronics. The company, headquartered at Greenford in Middlesex, makes navigation controls for the US fleet of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles.
Armed with Hellfire missiles, they are sent on covert “targeted killing” missions against suspected terrorist cells in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. But according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism at City University in London, over 430 strikes since 2002 have killed at least 428 civilians, of whom 173 were children.
Human rights lawyers argue that the attacks breach international law because they take place in countries with which the US is not at war. The strikes were declared to be war crimes by the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan in May, and are under investigation by the United Nations (UN).
Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA), the student environmental group, People and Planet, and the human rights charity, Reprieve, launched a campaign for the university to disinvest in June. A response under freedom of information law from the university had revealed an investment of £ 1,244,672 in Ultra Electronics at the end of 2012.