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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Reed criticised for 'arms link'
launched missile
The Lancet says the exhibition is incompatible with its values
Medical journal The Lancet has launched a scathing attack on its owner, Reed Elsevier, for helping to organise Europe's largest arms fair.

Reed is helping to stage the Defence Systems and Equipment International show starting in London on Tuesday.

The journal said it was "deeply concerned" by the company's "connection to the arms trade".

But Reed said all exhibitors were strictly regulated and some technology on display was designed for civil use.

The forthcoming event - staged in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence - showcases new technology for both military and civil use.

Exhibitors include defence companies BAE Systems, EADS and Lockheed Martin.

We respectfully ask Reed Elsevier to divest itself of all business interests that threaten human, and especially civilian, health and well-being
The Lancet

In an editorial, The Lancet urged Reed Elsevier to sever all links with the arms trade, claiming they were incompatible with the journal's values.

"On behalf of our readers and contributors, we respectfully ask Reed Elsevier to divest itself of all business interests that threaten human, and especially civilian, health and well-being," the journal said.

"Values of harm reduction and science-based decision making are the core of public-health practice.

"Certain military technologies that Reed Elsevier has allowed to be showcased at DESi are contrary to these values."

The Lancet, first published in 1823, is among 2,000 scientific and medical journals published by Reed every year.

Tightly regulated

Reed said all exhibitors had to comply with strict regulations on the use of their equipment or else face expulsion and potential prosecution.

It insisted that much of the technology on display - such as air ambulances and fire-fighting equipment - was designed for civil use.

"The defence industry is central to the preservation of freedom and national security," a company spokesman said.

"DSEi, like all Reed Elsevier business activities, complies with the principles of the United Nations Global Compact, to which Reed Elsevier is a signatory."

Protest action

Concerns have also been expressed over the amount of police resources needed to maintain security around the exhibition.

When the show was last held in London, in 2003, more than 2,500 police officers and security guards policed the site.

Critics had threatened to disrupt the exhibition because they feared it would attract countries with poor human rights records.

Some 60 people were arrested following a series of protests and police also stopped and searched a number of campaigners under anti-terrorism laws.

Two of the protesters later failed in a bid to have the searches ruled unlawful in the High Court and then the Court of Appeal.

Arrests over arms fair protests
08 Sep 03 |  London

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