Clarion Events has responded to protests against its Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition by advocating the need for a legitimate and ethical show to support the UK armed forces.
The comments come after members of the London Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) handed out anti-arms literature to exhibitors and visitors outside Clarion’s Baby Show at Earls Court in October.
One CAAT supporter who leafleted at The Baby Show, Rhiannon Rees, said the group’s aim was to point out to exhibitors and the public that Clarion also ran the DSEi fair, where weapons were exhibited that could injure children in areas of conflict.
“We believe the promotion and exhibition of weaponry supports and exacerbates conflict worldwide and supports an unethical and unproductive arms industry,” added CAAT spokesperson Kaye Stearman. The group also plans to hand-out protest leaflets at Clarion’s Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia on 7 November.
Clarion makes provision for lawful protest at its events, but in recent times it has seen the number of protesters dwindle to a handful, according to group marketing director Julian Graves. He added the figures didn’t impact this year’s Baby Show, which reported 24,000 visitors.
“DSEi serves only the legitimate defence and security industry, which is essential to ensuring that the UK’s armed services and police force have access to the best equipment,” Graves told EN. “We run DSEi in association with the Government and we are proud to help support our armed forces. DSEi has a very strict ethical policy which goes well beyond even the UK’s legal requirements.
“We believe that most people agree the UK’s armed forces have a right to the best equipment and understand that a trusted brand like Clarion Events is exactly the sort of organisation that should be running an exhibition like DSEi.”
In December 2009, Clarion Events renamed the exhibition, then titled Defence Systems and Equipment International, to reflect its advance into the broader security sector.
The next DSEi will be held at Excel London, 13-16 September 2011.