Peace protests signal launch of huge arms fair at Newham’s docklands

Peace activists hung a 12 metre ‘Destroy DSEi’ banner close to the ExCeL Centre at dawn this morning just hours before it opened its doors to the controversial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair.

Protestors dropped the banner from two cranes opposite the centre.

The Stop the Arms Fair coalition has called a day of action. Campaigners have highlighted government spending in support of the arms trade, at a time when Newham is facing cuts to public services of over �116 million.

Defence minister Liam Fox is due to open the 6th bi-annual Arms Fair in the heart of Newham’s Docklands this morning

He is expected to back Britain’s defence manufacturers, many of whom are among the nearly 1,300 exhibitors at one of the World’s biggest arms sales.

Mr Fox is also expected to support Britain’s industry saying the firms play a vital role in promoting foreign policy and helping to further what he called “enlightened international engagement.”

Thousands of delegates are expected at DSEi although it is unclear whether any of them will witness the protests which campaigners are planning.

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Many of them are opposed to what they refer to as “evil trade” of selling weapons to regimes across the world.

Around the conference centre there is a visible but understated police presence, mainly around the DLR stations’ closes to ExCeL