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)  

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
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
Latest stories from i100
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

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn