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Campaigners demand Sadiq Khan ratchet up efforts to ban DSEI arms fair

PUBLISHED: 14:12 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:12 19 September 2019

London's deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, with Rokhsana Fiaz and anti-arms fair campaigners outside City Hall. Picture: Jon King

London's deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, with Rokhsana Fiaz and anti-arms fair campaigners outside City Hall. Picture: Jon King

Archant

Campaigners have handed in a petition signed by almost 5,500 people calling on City Hall chiefs to ban an arms fair from the capital.

Members of Newham Against the Arms Fair and East London Against the Arms Fair want the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ratchet up efforts to stop the next DSEI trade event taking place ahead of the next mayoral election.

James Murray, London's deputy mayor for housing and development, and Newham mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, received the 5,432-strong petition at City Hall on Wednesday, September 18.

Mr Murray said: "[Sadiq Khan] has been very clear that it's not acceptable for this fair to happen in London and we're going to do everything we possibly can at City Hall to make that happen.

"But we can only do that with the support of Londoners so thank you for your work in championing that cause.

Maria Gallastegui, charged with breach of bail after a rooftop protest opposite the ExCeL, said: I have no regrets.Maria Gallastegui, charged with breach of bail after a rooftop protest opposite the ExCeL, said: I have no regrets." Picture: Kevin White

"We've got a good chance by working together to end this arms fair [in London]."

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Sadiq Khan wrote to DSEI's event director, Grant Burgham, on September 6, telling him he strongly opposed the fair, pointing out that policing the 2017 event required 2,800 police officer shifts costing £20,073.

The petition follows the arrest of 122 protesters at this year's fair at the ExCeL London in the Royal Docks.

A DSEI spokesman said: "Since moving to ExCeL in 2001 the fair has grown to become one of the world's leading defence and security events.

"This year attracted 76,859 business visitors from the UK and overseas to London, with 1,700 UK and international companies exhibiting. The next DSEI will take place at ExCeL from September 14-17, 2021."

Mayor Fiaz told campaigners Town and City Hall chiefs were "pushing really hard" to get the fair out of the capital.

The fair sees representatives from governments, armed forces and the arms industry strike deals and check out the latest in military technology.

But campaigners claim in their petition that "bombs, drones, guns, warplanes, tanks and grenades" are being sold to authoritarian regimes and countries carrying out human rights abuses.

Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London, said: "We are committed to supporting the community, ensuring we operate in a sustainable and responsible way, whilst helping to drive employment, education and opportunity for local people."

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