Protesters target DSEI arms fair at ExCeL London in Royal Docks


A protester on top of a shipment headed to the ExCeL London centre in Royal Docks. - Credit: Submitted

Protesters are targeting an arms fair hailed as "the world's largest gathering of the defence and security community".

About 60 people gathered in Royal Albert Way, which leads to the ExCeL London centre where the four-day Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event starts on Tuesday, September 14.


Activists sit in Royal Albert Way in a bid to prevent military equipment arriving at ExCeL London ahead of the DSEI arms fair next week. - Credit: Jon King

Activist Sarah Wilkinson said: "We may not stop it, but we've got to make clear it is not welcome in this country."

Campaigners allege the arms on sale could be used by oppressive regimes to commit human rights abuses and war crimes.


About 40 protesters camped near the entrance to the ExCeL London in Royal Docks. - Credit: Jon King

A DSEI spokesperson said the fair is "world-leading" and showcases the important role the UK's defence and security sector plays on the global stage.

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He added DSEI provides an effective platform for an industry which has a turnover of £486billion and employs more than 290,000 people.

activist with flag

Activists have urged residents to join them in opposing the fair which is due to start on Tuesday, September 14. - Credit: Jon King

"DSEI serves only the legitimate defence and security industry, which is the most highly and tightly regulated in the world," he said.

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Groups including Newham Against the Arms Fair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Black Lives Matter are campaigning against the event.


Met Police officers in Royal Albert Way pictured on Wednesday (September 8). - Credit: Jon King

Protesters sat in the road in a bid to stop military vehicles and equipment getting into the centre.

Scotland Yard denied claims from activists that it is using facial recognition technology to target protesters.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz.

When seeking election as the Labour candidate for mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz inferred the existing mayoral model of governance was both corrupt and corrupting - Credit: Ken Mears

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: "It is abhorrent such an event should happen in Newham.

"Newham Council resolved to oppose DSEI in 2019 and our message to the arms traders remains that you are unwelcome - don’t come back in the future."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has signalled his opposition to DSEI at ExCeL London, partly due to the cost of policing protests. In 2019, this amounted to £2,407,574.

The Excel Conference Centre in East London, where hundreds of people were expecting to attend this w

ExCeL says DSEI is one of 100s of events it hosts, which together drive £4.5bn in economic impact for London and support more than 37,600 jobs. - Credit: PA

A spokesperson said ExCeL London respects the right to conduct lawful protest, but at the same time is doing everything it can to ensure minimum disruption to people who live and work in the area.

Amber, an activist who only gave her first name, denied protesters were causing disruption and urged residents to join in.

To date, a man and woman have been arrested on suspicion of vehicle interference. This compares to 116 arrests made in 2019.

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