Last weekend prominent events organisers Clarion found its signature show – the Baby Show – opening in London to a storm of protest over its involvement in the arms trade.
Clarion recently purchased a chain of international arms fairs, including London’s biennial DSEi at the Excel centre, to add to their portfolio of events including the Spirit of Christmas and the International Horse Fair.
Now main sponsors Bounty, giants in the pregnancy and parenting world, have pulled out of their collaboration with Clarion. Unicef are refusing to accept a previously agreed donation for each ticket sold; not an insignificant amount given that the Baby Show attracts 90,000 people each year.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) brought the issue to light by writing to each Baby Show exhibitor and informing them of the organisers’ arms fair interests. This furore highlights public distaste for the arms trade, and demonstrates how it is seen as illegitimate for reputable companies to have links to weapons.
Previous DSEi owners Reed Elsevier, specialists in academic books, were forced to sell earlier this year after protests from their own customers and shareholders. Guests invited to attend the last DSEi fair included governments with questionable human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, China and Libya. Clarion have written to all their Baby Show exhibitors assuring them that their arms fairs “serve only the legitimate global defence industry” and asserting they do not believe that public opinion is opposed to the arms trade. Perhaps this Baby Show disaster will make them reconsider.
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This post was written by Annabelle Williams