Anti-arms trade campaigner Chris Cole has been found guilty of criminal damage after spraying ‘DSEI kills’ and ‘stop the arms trade’ at the entrance to last year’s trade show.
Cole had pleaded not guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court on 31 May, arguing that he was acting to prevent allegedly unlawful activity taking place at the DSEI event. He was fined £500 and ordered to pay £745 in costs and compensation.
Cole was previously sentenced to 30 days imprisonment for refusing to pay a £2,000 fine for a similar act of civil disobedience at DSEI 2009.
Amnesty International arms control expert Oliver Sprague gave evidence on behalf of Cole, detailing alleged breeches of export control laws that had taken place at previous DSEi arms fairs as well as the most recent exhibition. A spokesperson for the London Campaign Against Arms Trade Jessie Normaschild also attended the hearing and criticised both the fine and the Government’s participation in DSEI.
The biennial DSEi event was held at from 13 to 16 September and attracted 29,112 attendees, up 16 per cent to 2009. Organiser Clarion Events said last year’s DSEi was its most feature-heavy to date, including a new showcase of robotic and unmanned systems, free seminars and a Michelin star fine dining experience.
“Chris Cole’s act of vandalism took place on TfL property some distance from the Excel centre and had no impact on DSEI which was a huge success,” DSEI spokesman Duncan Reid said. “DSEI is a legitimate exhibition run in partnership with the UK Government and we work with them to ensure our exhibitors and visitors comply with the law.”