Sadiq Khan has told the organisers at Clarion Events that he will ‘take any opportunity’ to prevent DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International) from taking place in London in future years.
The Mayor has also told Clarion Events to ‘foot the bill’ for policing costs, some sources estimate to be almost £1m.
Exhibition News has exclusively obtained a copy of the letter sent to DSEI Event Director, Grant Burgham, just days before the world’s largest defence and security show.
Mr Khan writes: ‘As we approach DSEI, I have once again heard concerns about the fair raised by the local authority, London Borough of Newham, local residents and Londoners. As I stated in 2017, I too strongly oppose this event taking place in London. London is a global city, which is home to individuals who have fled conflict and suffered as a consequence or arms and weapons like those exhibited at DSEI.’
In his letter to Clarion, Mr Khan, explains that the show in 2017 involved over 2,800 police officer shifts over a 12-day period. He added: ‘In order to represent Londoners’ interests, I will take any opportunity available to prevent this event from taking place at the Royal Docks in future years…and in the meantime that you will look to cover the costs of policing the event incurred by the Metropolitan Police’.
The misinformed Mayor has taken the moral high ground aligning with protestors despite repeated efforts by staff at Clarion to explain that the show isn’t just about selling weapons but has a strong emphasis on security, including defending cities against terrorism. Mr Khan’s office has also chosen to ignore the significant economic benefits to hosting a show like this in London and the impact on the UK defence industry.
In his response to the Mayor, Mr Burgham, wrote: ‘DSEI takes place every two years at London’s ExCeL Centre, and it is now in its 21st year. DSEI 2019 will showcase a variety of cutting edge technologies from across the whole spectrum of the defence and security industry and includes military systems and vehicles, training simulators, software, ships, helicopters, life rafts and rescue boats, medical, medevac and air ambulance kit, de-mining and mine detection equipment, disaster planning tools, water purification systems and search and rescue equipment.
The event serves only the interests of the legitimate defence and security industry, which is the most highly and tightly regulated in the world. Teams from HMRC, BEIS, DIT-ECJU and the other Government agencies responsible for enforcing the law at DSEI are on site during setup and throughout the exhibition.’
A spokesman for Clarion Events added: “DSEI pays for 100% of the cost of the event’s security and policing and always has done. This includes the attendance on site of Ministry of Defence Police, who have a specific responsibility for protecting British military personnel and equipment. Their costs are paid for in full by DSEI. DSEI does not require the attendance of the Metropolitan Police on site.
A number of protest groups have been running their own events outside of the ExCeL campus, throughout the week (as has been done during previous editions) immediately preceding DSEI. It is the Metropolitan Police’s decision alone as to whether they attend and what level of resourcing is required to police these events. It is worth noting that these protests cover a wide number of political issues, such as Brexit and climate change, and the Met has a statutory responsibility to police them, as they would with any other public protest.”
Read the full story and the letter from Sadiq Khan in EN Magazine, October issue.