By Bethany Rielly in England:
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Politicians cosy up with profiteers of Yemen destruction at arms dealer dinner
ARMS dealers who profit from the destruction of Yemen cosy up with politicians tonight at a black-tie dinner in central London.
The annual event, which is hosted by arms-industry trade body ADS Group and costs up to £470 a head, was met by anti-war protesters opposing “the carnival of violence”.
Protest organisers Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) highlighted the involvement of companies attending the dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel with the devastating war in Yemen.
These include event sponsor and ADS member BAE Systems, which supplies parts for Typhoon aircraft used by the Saudi-led coalition in its bombardment of Yemen.
CAAT media co-ordinator Andrew Smith told the Morning Star: “Right now, UK-made fighter jets are flying over Yemen firing UK-made missiles and dropping UK-made bombs.
“It has created the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world and left millions of people on the edge of starvation, yet the arms-company heads and politicians who supported the sales are getting together for a £235-per-head dinner.”
While members get a reduced rate, public guests are charged £470 each to attend.
MPs are treated to seats at the table by arms companies, representing a major opportunity for weapons manufacturers to influence British politicians, the campaign group said.
A leaked guest-list from the 2015 ADS dinner revealed that 40 MPs had been sponsored to attend, including [then still] Labour’s John Woodcock, former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood.
Mr Smith said that the cosy dinner sends a message of “uncritical support” for Britain’s arms trade, regardless of the “terrible damage it has done around the world.”
Under pressure from CAAT, BBC sports presenter Clare Balding withdrew from attending this year’s event.
In a letter, the group asked Ms Balding to reconsider her attendance given that she had fronted an emergency appeal for victims of the war in Yemen.
CAAT had urged the other speakers to follow Ms Balding’s example and withdraw.
“We urge all of the speakers and attendees to consider if this carnival of violence is something they really want to support,” Mr Smith said.
“It’s not social-justice campaigners that need to be stopped, it’s the arms dealers.”
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