The Christian Socialist Movement (CSM) has defended its controversial decision to allow Nestle UK to sponsor one of its events at this year's Labour party conference.
The event which will be attended by Minister for Culture David Lammy MP is set to examine what governments, business and civil society are doing about forced labour.
Its sponsorship by NestlÈ UK however has drawn fire from campaigners Baby Milk Action.
"NestlÈ is keen to link with reputable organisations in its attempts to counter its reputation as the world's 'least responsible company'" Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action told Ekklesia.
"We participate in public debates with NestlÈ to expose its baby food marketing malpractice, but the publicity for this event implies NestlÈ is a partner in taking action against forced labour. It is not billed as a debate into NestlÈ's appalling record of human rights abuses, which, as well as the baby milk issue, include failing to act over alleged child slavery on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast, exploiting coffee farmers and other suppliers and abusing trade union rights in Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere.
"It is disappointing that CSM's professed desire to 'engage' on issues of concern leads it to take NestlÈ money and publicise it as a partner, rather than giving a voice to those who are suffering as a result of corporate malpractice."
CSM has issued a seven page statement to its members explaining why the decision was made.
"The decision to go ahead was not taken lightly but after much discussion and deliberation" the statement says.
"It should be noted that CSM chair Bev Thomas has been for many years and remains a boycotter of all NestlÈ products. However, Bev is supportive of CSMís invitation to NestlÈ and the need to engage."
Others within CSM, whilst supporting the decision to engage, have opposed the decision to take money from NestlÈ UK.
The decision comes after the Methodist Churchís Joint Advisory Committee on Ethical Investment (JACEI) announced last year it had cleared the way for the Churchís investment agency to invest in NestlÈ.
This week NestlÈ hosted a reception at the UK Trade Union Congress with the GMB trade union.
CSM is affiliated to the Labour Party and sends two formal delegates to the Partyís Annual Conference each year. At the Partyís invitation it organises the official Conference service and also host fringe meetings and other events. The group participates in the Partyís policy consultation process and has more than 40 members in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, including current and former Cabinet members as well as the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
The CSM event takes place 8.00pm on Monday 25 September at Manchester Art Gallery
You can read the CSM statement in full here