- The Guardian, Friday 30 May 2008
The company's chief executive, Crispin Davis, said last summer that Reed would sever ties with the arms industry by the end of 2007 in response to pressure from anti-arms trade campaigners and writers at Reed Elsevier's scientific journals. Yesterday the company said it had sold the DSEi, ITEC and LAAD defence exhibitions to Britain's largest independent exhibitions group, Clarion Events, for an undisclosed sum.
Clarion, which organises 80 exhibitions every year in the UK and abroad across the leisure-to-financial sector, said the deal marked its first move into defence shows.
"The events we have acquired in the defence-and-security sector are a valuable and profitable addition to our portfolio and fit perfectly with our strategy for international expansion," said Clarion Events' chief executive, Simon Kimble.
Asked about ethical concerns over the move, Kimble said: "The events we have acquired are thriving events with full government support, serving only the legitimate global defence and security industry. Exhibitors and visitors must adhere to the highest regulatory scrutiny, not just complying with but exceeding UK and international law.
"Defence and security is a legitimate business like any other and we will apply the same very high standards, rigour, experience and skill to organising events in this sector as we do in all of our others."
Reed's decision last June to stop organising defence shows followed a long campaign over its involvement in several defence shows, including one in London. The Campaign Against Arms Trade had argued Reed's involvement in the arms trade was incompatible with its position as the number-one publisher of medical and science journals.
Reed, which is selling its trade and specialist publications such as Farmers Weekly and New Scientist, had drawn particular criticism over its defence links from its top title, the Lancet. The medical journal's staff struggled to reconcile ties to the arms trade with a publication often covering the impact of war.
A host of internationally renowned writers including JM Coetzee, Ian McEwan and Arabella Weir also joined the campaign, writing a public letter to coincide with the Reed-organised London Book Fair. The authors said they were appalled their trade should be "commercially connected to one which exacerbates insecurity and repression".
Shareholders also added their voices to the anti-arms fairs lobby, cutting their stakes in the company and vowing not to re-invest until Reed had pulled out of defence exhibitions.
The FTSE 100-listed Reed, which claims defence shows accounted for less than 1% of its annual turnover, had previously maintained that it viewed the defence industry as "necessary to the preservation of freedom and national security" and that its exhibitions assisted in ensuring there was a regulated market.