Exclusive: Organisers of world's largest arms fair in London accused of failing to stop promotion of equipment 'used in torture'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Human rights campaigners discovered that two companies were offering leg irons and electric batons

The organisers of one of the world’s largest arms fairs in London were today accused of failing to crack down on the sale of equipment that could could be used in torture after two exhibitors were found to be illegally marketing shackles and electric stun weapons.

Human rights campaigners discovered the two companies, French firm MagForce International and Chinese company Tian Jin MyWay International Trading, were offering leg irons and electric batons - described as “undesirable” under UK guidelines - in catalogues on display at the vast Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) show in Docklands.

It was only after the incident was raised in Parliament by Green MP Caroline Lucas that organisers moved in to take action, ordering both the Chinese and French companies to dismantle their stalls before ejecting them from the exhibition attended by 30,000 people.

The revelation that items subject to draconian legal restrictions which ban their sale or promotion in Britain were being marketed at the fair attended by some of the biggest names in the defence industry, including BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, will be an embarrassment after repeated undertakings to weed out exhibitors breaking the rules at previous exhibitions.

The DSEI website specifically prohibits the marketing of “leg irons, gang chains, shackles” and “electric-shock batons... stun guns and electric shock dart guns”.

When an executive from Beijing-based Tian Jin MyWay, one of a handful of Chinese exhibitors at the fair, was asked was asked by The Independent what purpose was served by a set of heavy metal manacles marked as “fetters” in its catalogue, he said: “What do you think they are used for?”

Ms Lucas said: “It’s frankly disgusting that items like this are being are being promoted at a supposedly legitimate trade event in Britain. Time and again the organisers of DSEI have shown that they cannot guarantee that exhibitors will remain within the law. It’s time for the Government to take action and shut down this event once and for all.”

The promotional material obtained by The Independent shows that both companies were offering a range of handcuffs and restraints to potential customers touring the ExCeL centre for the four-day event. Among the countries granted official delegate status for event are Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Any restraints which are not “ordinary handcuffs” similar to those used by British police and all electric shock devices “modified for the purpose or riot control or self-protection” are listed as “Category A” items in trade controls designed to thwart the sale of materials that could be used for torture.

Though they are not illegal, any trade can only take place with a Government licence which is highly unlikely to be granted and their promotion is banned under the 2008 Export Control Order.

Government guidelines state: “These strict controls reflect the fact that the supply of many of these goods is inherently undesirable. Licences will not normally be granted for any trade in paramilitary goods listed because of their use in torture.”

When approached by The Independent, executives for both MagForce and Tian Jin MyWay insisted that the items were not being offered for sale in Britain and were part of general sales literature used for customers around the world.

A spokesman for MagForce said: “As far as I am aware we have never sold any of these items. Most of our customers are in Africa. We act as a supplier and we do not manufacture these goods.”

MPs this summer criticised the Government and the organisers of DSEI for “inadequate” supervision of controls on the promotion of Category A items after two companies were found to have been marketing banned items, including cluster munitions, at the same event two years ago.

A source close to the Select Committee on Arms Control Exports said: “If there have been further breaches this year then that is shocking, and I am sure, to say the least, that a dim view will be taken.”

Ian Prichard, research co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Magforce and Tianjin MyWay shouldn’t have been allowed into the arms fair and it says a lot that it is down to an MP to monitor exhibitors.”

DSEI, which is organised by international conferences company Clarion Events, said it had passed the matter to HM Revenue & Customs  for further investigation.

In a statement, DSEI said: “We can confirm that Tian Jin Myway International Trading Co and MagForce International have been ejected from DSEI having been found with literature in breach of our compliance policy. The stands have been shut down and the exhibitors ejected.

“This action highlights our commitment to ensuring that all equipment, services, promotional material, documentation and anything else on display at DSEI complies with domestic and international law.”

Manufacturers from all over the world are displaying their hardware at the event (Getty) Manufacturers from all over the world are displaying their hardware at the event (Getty)  

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice