London: Christmas Fair owners under pressure over role in arms trade

 The Spirit of Christmas Fair will open in London's Olympia Centre tomorrow amidst widespread criticism of its owners, Clarion Events, who have recently bought five arms fairs, including the biennial London arms fair known as Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi).

Several exhibitors have already expressed their disapproval of the arms trade to Clarion's management. A peaceful protest by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) at 11am today on Hammersmith Road will see CAAT supporters dressed as Santa Claus and elves carrying sacks of weapons rather than presents.

The event follows embarrassment for Clarion at their Baby Show last month, when a backlash from exhibitors involved Bounty withdrawing as a sponsor and Unicef refusing to accept donations from ticket sales. Last week, the BBC was criticised for associating its Top Gear programme with Clarion's MPH motor show.

CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "I share the disgust that many people will feel at the thought of arms fair owners celebrating the 'Spirit of Christmas'. Clarion owns arms fairs which have hosted representatives of vicious regimes including China, Colombia and Saudi Arabia. After the Baby Show shambles and the backlash from exhibitors at the Christmas Fair, Clarion's bosses can only restore their reputation by ditching their arms fairs."

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) whose supporters include several church groups of all denominations, works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade. 80% of CAAT's funding derives from individual supporters' donations. CAAT is strictly nonviolent in all its work.

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