13 February 2007
Reed Elsevier's reputation collapses as investors ditch shares
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) today said that Reed Elsevier had run out of excuses after F&C Asset Management and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust sold their shares in protest at the company's role in organising arms fairs. Despite growing criticism, Reed insisted that it would press ahead with the IDEX fair next week, which is expected to be a focal point for arms sales in the Middle East.
In yet another blow to Reed's reputation, it was revealed that torture equipment - including electroshock batons and stun belts -had been sold at the Shot Show, run by Reed in the USA. Exhibitors in 2006 included Security Equipment Corporation, who sold torture devices with the tagline "Making Grown Men Cry Since 1975". Despite this, Reed yesterday insisted that its business was "necessary to the preservation of freedom".
CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said:
"The suggestion that torture equipment is sold to defend freedom would be laughable if wasn't so sickening. Sticking to the letter of the law is no excuse for ignoring the most basic ethical issues. Reed Elsevier must make a choice: reputable publisher or leading player in the arms and torture trade? They can't be both."
Reed Elsevier, best known for its work as an academic publisher, has come under increasing criticism since it began to organise arms fairs through its subsidiary company, Reed Exhibitions. These include DSEi, the UK's biggest arms fair, held every two years in London.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. Reed Elsevier runs arms fairs through its subsidiary company Reed Exhibitions. These include Shot Show (USA), IDEX (UAE), Latin America Area and Defence (Brazil), ITEC (Germany), Taipei Aerospace and Defence Technology Exhibition (Taiwan), Defence Services and Equipment International (DSEi, UK) and Helitech (UK). IDEX will run from 18th-22nd February in Abu Dhabi. DSEi will next take place from 11th-14th September in London.
3. Exhibitors at the Shot Show in 2006 included Security Equipment Corporation (who sell electroshock batons and stun guns) and Stinger Systems (who sell stun belts). Such sales are legal in the USA but are banned throughout the European Union under regulations that outlaw the sale of devices which "have no practical use other than for the purpose of capital punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".
4. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust yesterday (12.02.07) sold all its shares in Reed Elsevier - worth nearly £2,000,000 - after three years of critical engagement on the company's role in the arms trade. F&C Asset Management sold their shares following ethical concerns over the last DSEi arms fair in London.
5. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview on this subject.
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