BBC challenged over 'Top Gear' exhibition's arms trade links

By agency reporter
October 30, 2008

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has today written to the BBC over its part in the MPH motor show, which opens today in London and whose owners Clarion Events have recently purchased arms fairs.

MPH is run by Clarion in association with the BBC's Top Gear programme. Clarion's recent Baby Show faced a backlash from exhibitors due to the company's arms links, with UNICEF refusing to accept donations and Bounty withdrawing as a sponsor.

CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "If BBC bosses are in touch with public opinion, they will recognise the level of public opposition to the arms trade. We have today encouraged them to reconsider their involvement in the MPH Show and to question Clarion Events about their arms fairs."

He continued: "Clarion owns arms fairs which have cheerfully invited officials from brutal regimes such as China, Colombia and Saudi Arabia. Involvement with this trade is not an option for any company that cares about its reputation."

Several exhibitors at the Spirit of Christmas Fair, owned by Clarion and due to open in London on 5th November, have informed the company of their opposition to its ownership of arms fairs.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. 80% of CAAT's funding derives from individual supporters' donations. CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.

The MPH Show takes place at Earl's Court, London from 30th October - 2nd November and in the NEC, Birmingham from 13 - 16 November 2008.

In May 2008, Clarion Events bought three arms fairs from Reed Elsevier. Reed sold the fairs following a campaign co-ordinated by CAAT. Writers and medical professionals who contributed to Reed's publications had backed the campaign while Reed shareholders had sold their shares in protest. Clarion bought two more arms fairs in September this year.

Clarion's arms fairs include the biennial London arms fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi), next due in September 2009. When DSEi last took place, in September 2007, governments invited to attend included a number of regimes with extremely poor human rights records, including Libya, China, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.

Clarion faced a backlash from their own exhibitors at the Baby Show, which took place in London on 17-19 October. Bounty decided to withdraw as a sponsor of the Show. UNICEF pulled out of a deal with the Show that would have seen it receive donations based on ticket sales. The revenue lost to UNICEF will be covered by Pampers. A range of other exhibitors wrote to Clarion to express their disagreement with the company's decision to buy arms fairs.

The Spirit of Christmas Fair, run by Clarion, will take place in the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London from 5-8 November 2008.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.