Baby Show under fire as exhibitors rebel over arms links

17 October 2008

Clarion Events, owners of the Baby Show which opens in London today, are facing a backlash against their involvement in the arms trade. One of the Show's main sponsors, Bounty, today confirmed that it would not be exhibiting at the Show. Unicef has pulled out of a deal with the Show that would have seen it receive donations based on ticket sales. The revenue lost to Unicef will be covered by Pampers. A range of other exhibitors have written to Clarion to express their disagreement with the company's decision to buy arms fairs earlier this year.

Clarion's ownership of arms fairs was brought to exhibitors' attention by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and by the freelance journalist Emily Apple.

CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said:

Clarion's boss Simon Kimble has been writing to Baby Show exhibitors to tell them that public opinion is not against the arms industry. Their own reaction has proved him wrong. Congratulations to those companies and customers who have stood up and said that the owners of the Baby Show should not be running arms fairs. Clarion is out of touch with public opinion. They can restore their reputation only by ending their involvement in the arms trade.

New mother Carrie Comfort, of south London, said:

As a new mother, I'm very disappointed that the owners of the Baby Show, Clarion Events, are running arms fairs. I'm able to enjoy every tiny smile and step of my baby, while some other parent has lost their child as a result of the arms trade.

Clarion Events has bought five arms fairs this year, including the biennial London arms fair which operates under the name Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI). The previous owner Reed Elsevier sold the fair following criticism from their own customers and shareholders. Clarion's other exhibitions include the Spirit of Christmas Fair, due in London from 5th - 9th November.

ENDS

Notes
  1. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters' donations. CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.
  2. In May, Clarion Events bought three arms fairs from Reed Elsevier. Reed sold the fairs following a campaign co-ordinated by CAAT. Writers and medical professionals who contributed to Reed's publications had backed the campaign while Reed shareholders had sold their shares in protest. Clarion bought two more arms fairs in September this year.
  3. Clarion's arms fairs include the biennial London arms fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), next due in September 2009. When DSEI last took place, in September 2007, governments invited to attend included a number of regimes with extremely poor human rights records, including Libya, China and Saudi Arabia. Clarion have denied that DSEI is an arms fair, despite the general use of the term in relation to it. It was described as an arms fair by senior Ministry of Defence official Stephen Pollard in March 2008.
  4. The last two years have seen considerable setbacks for arms companies due to public opposition. The Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) - a unit of the Ministry of Defence that promoted arms fairs and private arms companies - was closed on 1st April 2008 following a high-profile campaign by CAAT and other groups. Some of DESO's functions have been transferred to UK Trade and Investment, which supports civil exports. CAAT is monitoring the situation and calling on UKTI not to give arms a disproportionate share of resources. The last two years have also seen widespread backing for a legal challenge brought by CAAT and The Corner House (an anti-corruption NGO) over the cancellation of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE Systems' Saudi arms deals.
  5. Spokespeople for CAAT are available for interview.
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