10,000 signatures reached
To: Lord Edward Faulks - Minister of State for Justice
Save Sark from the Barclay brothers
Dear Lord Faulks,
The Barclay brothers are trying to turn the tiny Channel Island of Sark into a personal tax haven through propaganda and coercion. We are calling on you to:
- use your power to stop the Barclays destroying the islanders' peaceful and historic way of life
- honour the government's "ultimate responsibility to ensure good governance" of Sark.
Why is this important?
The Channel Island of Sark has just 600 inhabitants. They lead a peaceful and historic way of life that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years. The islanders get around on bikes or by horse and cart - there are no cars or tarmac roads on the island. It is a unique and beautiful place, a rare piece of tranquillity in a chaotic modern world.
But now the billionaire owners of The Telegraph newspaper, the Barclay brothers, are threatening that way of life.
Twenty years ago, they bought the tiny neighbouring island of Brecqhou and built a huge mock gothic castle that looms over Sark. Ever since, they have been buying up every hotel, small business and piece of land they can get their hands on. The islands status as a tax haven means the brothers have to pay no tax on their fortune back to the UK.
The Sarkees have been doing everything they can to resist their power over the island. In 2008, the Barclays tried to flood the island's first democratically elected government with their allies. When the islanders emphatically rejected them in favour of their own representatives, the brothers retaliated by firing everyone who worked in any of the businesses they had bought out - that amounted to a sixth of Sark's population losing their jobs.
It doesn't end there. Those who speak out against the brothers' stranglehold on the island are publicly dragged through the dirt in the Sark Newsletter - a weekly propaganda piece written by the Barclays' lieutenant, Kevin Delaney. The islanders recently told the Guardian and BBC that they live in fear in a "culture of bullying and intimidation."
The Barclay brothers company Sark Estate Management (SEM) has turned much of their good quality agricultural land over to vineyards, land that was traditionally used by the islanders for centuries for growing crops and grazing livestock. In November 2012 a peaceful protest at the Sark Mill vineyards against the spread of vines resulted in 120 Sark residents signing a petition asking the Barclays to reconsider their vineyard project but this was ignored. SEM continue to spray the vineyards with chemicals and residents fear for the health of Sark's pristine ecosystem and their fresh water supplies which come from under the ground.
Sark is a dependency of the Crown but, so far, our government has left the islanders to fend for themselves. The Department of Justice has admitted that it has an "ultimate responsibility to ensure good governance" of Sark. They are aware of what's going on - former Justice Minister Lord McNally has already been to visit the island. It's time Lord Faulks, the new Justice Minister and Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, lived up to that responsibility.
You can find out more about the situation in Sark in this recent Panorama show:
Or this earlier Today programme piece: