Monday, May 02, 2016

Letter to Parliamentary Committees on Arms Export Controls requesting it looks at lack of police investigations of DSEI

Dear Chris White and members of the Committees on Arms Export Controls,

I am writing in relation to the recent DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair, held at the Excel Centre in London in September last year.

I was one of the eight people recently acquitted for trying to prevent crimes being committed at the arms fair by blocking access roads to the Excel fair in the week before the fair whilst arms companies were setting up the fair.  During the trial evidence of crimes being committed at the fair were presented by Oliver Sprague (from Amnesty International) and Katherine Hobbs (from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade).  These included both the sale of illegal equipment (including torture equipment, land mines and cluster bombs) and the sale of military equipment to countries knowing that they would be used for human rights abuses or war crimes.

In dismissing the charges Judge Angus Hamilton wrote:
“…the court has been presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from three experts that criminal wrongdoing had occurred at past DSEI exhibitions involving the sale of arms to countries which then used those arms against civilian populations and the sale of items that were inherently unlawful such as cluster munitions and items designed for torture and inappropriate restraint. There was, as a result, a compelling inference that such activities would also take place at the 2015 DSEI exhibition.

“The court was also presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence that such criminal activities are not being properly investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted. Ample evidence of this was provided by the three experts.”

I am aware that the committee (and its predecessor the Quadripartite Committee) has investigated the DSEI arms fair before and found that illegal activity has occurred.

However, given the above judgement I think that it is essential that this time the lack of effort to detect and prosecute criminal activity at DSEI (and other arms fairs) by the police, National Crime Agency and HMRC is also investigated.  Your previous reports have shown that there have been clear breaches of the law at each and every DSEI arms fair, yet not a single case has been detected by any of the relevant agencies, and when illegality has been brought to their attention no action has been taken.

This lack of action by the relevant authorities should concern you almost as much as the original illegality and I hope that your current investigation will include the prevention and prosecution of criminality as well as the degree to which it has been occurring.

I would be grateful if email this could be brought to the attention of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.

Best wishes


Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

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