British-made tear gas was used on Egypt's protesters

CS gas canisters with serial and lot numbers have been found by victims fired on in Tahrir Square

A British firm manufactured some of the tear gas used by Egyptian security forces battling pro-democracy protesters in Egypt's Tahrir Square, the IoS can reveal.

CS gas canisters fired at civilians during recent clashes were produced by British defence contractor Chemring Defence, formerly known as PW Defence, the company confirmed this weekend. A spokesman said the gas is thought to have been sold to the Egyptian army more than a decade ago or, alternatively, reached Egyptian military via a third country.

The company, which said it has not directly supplied CS gas to Egypt since 1998, has not broken UK laws forbidding such sales. But critics say Egyptian use of British-made products to quash political dissent reveals “serious flaws” in the UK's controls on arms exports to the Middle East. Demonstrators in Egypt who found themselves caught in the stench of CS gas in the recent clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street on the south east side of Tahrir Square, said they experienced symptoms of burning, skin irritation, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and loss of feeling in their limbs. Many collected the discarded rounds after they had been fired during more than 120 hours of protests. Amongst those collected were the red-striped 38mm long range rounds produced by Chemring Defence, which the IoS has seen.

Serial numbers and lot numbers were seen on a number of canisters, which are being used to track their journey from the UK to Egypt. One had a manufacturing date on it of 1995. Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student, who did not want to give his surname, found his canister on Monday 21 November after he was gassed. He said: “They shot many canisters like this one at the same time... It causes so much tearing; it makes your chest hurt so badly. It burns when you're sweating and it causes you to shake.”

A spokesman for Chemring Group PLC - the company which owns Chemring Defence - said it did not dispute that it produced the canisters were produced by the UK company. But he said his firm has not supplied CS gas to Egypt since 1998, when products were sent directly to the Egyptian army under licenses from the Ministry of Defence, with a shelf-life of between three and five years. Chemring Group's board of directors include former Tory minister, Lord Freeman, chairman of arms firm Thales UK plc. The firm accompanied David Cameron on his arms tour of Egypt earlier this year.

Chemring's spokesman was unable to confirm the exact year the rounds in question were exported or whether they were sold via another country. He said: “All exports of military and security equipment are subject to detailed licences from the UK government which include undertakings by the customer that equipment will only be used in conjunction with relevant international laws and treaties.”

There is no arms embargo against Egypt, but no UK companies have been given permission to export gas to Egypt since 1999, according to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), who keep a record of approved export licenses. Any company applying for a license now has to obtain an “End User Undertaking” from their overseas customer and declare the final destination for their goods. The coalition government has, controversially, licensed the sale to Bahrain of crowd control weapons, including CS hand grenades and smoke canisters. It also sanctioned sales of crowd control ammunition to Libya; combat helicopters to Algeria and armoured personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia, last year.

Baroness Wilcox, under-secretary for BIS, said last week: “We make the questioning of anybody who is looking for an export license from us very robust, particularly if it is for export to difficult countries.” She said it was “most frustrating that we cannot do more” in relation to countries re-exporting goods to other countries.

Ghada Shahbender, a member of the board of directors of the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights, who found one of the British CS canisters after disturbances last June, said the weapons are “harming democratic reform” because they “end up in the hands of those who abuse them.”Amnesty International UK's Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague called for tear gas to be included in a new international arms trade treaty to be agreed at the UN next year: "The use of UK tear gas against civilians in Egypt in the latest brutal crackdown, provides yet more damning evidence of serious flaws that successive governments have allowed to go unchecked.”

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home