Arms trade

1 April 2018News

13 cases dropped after aquittal of Christian activists

The crown prosecution service (CPS) broke off proceedings against 13 activists awaiting trial for obstructing the highway while protesting against the DSEI arms fair in London last September. Five protesters, from Faslane Peace Camp, are still scheduled to go on trial on 11–12 April.

The dropping of the cases followed the acquittals, on 7 February, of four Christian peace activists, and the dismissal of charges the next day against four Quaker abseilers, by a different district…

1 February 2018News

Trials to continue through May

Quaker abseilers, Louis Dorton and Nicholas Cooper, blocking the road to the DSEI arms fair set-up, 5 September 2017. Photo: Diana More/CAAT

In January and early February, there were acquittals for 12 of the 102 people arrested during the set-up of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair last September (PN 2610–2611).

Most of the 102 were charged with obstruction of the highway, some with aggravated trespass, and a few were released without…

1 December 2017News

More arms fair trials scheduled for December and January

On 10 November, a trial at Stratford magistrates court in London descended into farce when the prosecution declined to show police bodycam video evidence because it ‘showed nothing’ and dropped the case. This was the first trial arising from a week of action in September aimed at disrupting the DSEI arms fair held in London’s Docklands (PN 2610–2611).

Chris Maunder was facing the most serious charge brought against any of the 102 DSEI arrestees: assaulting a police…

1 December 2017Feature

‘Not guilty’ verdicts for Ploughshares activists Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse

Dan Woodhouse and Sam Walton (centre) with supporters outside Burnley magistrates court after the verdict on 26 October. Photo: Andrea Needham

On 26 October, Burnley magistrates court acquitted Ploughshares activists Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse of criminal damage after they admitted breaking into a BAE Systems plant to use household hammers on military jets.

Poor old British Aerospace. Not only were the first group of people to break in to their Warton site in…

29 October 2017Blog entry

Andrea Needham reports on the recent trial of Sam Walton and Dan Woodhouse in Burnley


Poor old British Aerospace. Not only were the first group of people to break in to their Warton site in Lancashire to disarm a warplane acquitted, now the second lot have also been found not guilty. It's curious how difficult it appears to be to convict people for acting peacefully to prevent war crimes.

The first such disarmament action took place in January 1996, when a group of women (myself included) broke in and disarmed a Hawk warplane being sold to Indonesia for use in…

1 October 2017News

Campaigners blocked the set-up of the London DSEI weapons fest

Die-in at DSEI arms fair, East London. PHOTO: Diana More.

Over the course of seven days in early September, thousands of activists from across the country descended on East London in a vibrant and colourful show of strength, solidarity and unity – to try to stop the set-up of the terrible DSEI arms fair.

Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) is one of the biggest arms fairs in the world. This year, it brought 1,600 arms companies to London and put them together…

1 October 2017News

Campaigners plead not guilty

Some of the folk pleading not guilty on 21 September at Thames magistrates court. This was one of many days of plea hearings (18 September – 9 October) for the 100 activists arrested for disrupting the set-up for the DSEI arms fair in East London.

PHOTO: Sarah Lasenby

1 October 2017News

Welsh Borders join arms fair protests

Welsh Borders join the Arms Fair protests. PHOTO: Richard Stafford

Not yet dawn. 10,000 dead in Yemen. (Drink and a blanket). One million homeless. (Packed lunch, cake?) £3.3 million spent by Saudi Arabia since 2015 on British weapons. (Remember the banner). 22 of us, mostly from a choir based in Presteigne in the Welsh borders, board our coach heading for the ExCeL centre in East London where Britain hosts its biennial international arms fair. We are coming to support the blockading…

1 August 2017Feature

Art the Arms Fair aims to make the DSEI arms fair this September the most-talked-about arms fair ever.

Life & Death by Amy Corcoran, 2017, watercolour and pen. Donated to Art the Arms Fair

Artists can participate by sending in digital images of their work, by donating physical art works for the auction, and by taking part in a mass outdoor art event on 9 September. All art and artists are welcome, from painters to performance artists, and from sculptors to satirists. Come with your canvases, clay and…

1 August 2017News

Campaigners to appeal high court verdict

While the high court in London ruled on 10 July that arms exports to Saudi Arabia are ‘lawful’, Campaign Against Arms Trade remains confident in its legal case. We are challenging the verdict and hope that the court of appeal will overturn its ruling.

If the verdict is allowed to stand, government will regard it as a green light to keep arming human rights abusers and repressive regimes around the world. Even worse, Saudi forces will see it as a green light to continue in their…

1 August 2017News in Brief

On 14 July, the high court in London overturned the acquittal of eight anti-militarists for disrupting the set-up of the DSEI arms fair in East London in September 2015.

However, the court also ruled that none of the activists should be re-tried or face costs – partly because all defendants were previously of good character.

The eight had been acquitted in April last year by Thames magistrates court of obstructing the highway on an access road to the ExCeL Centre, home…

1 June 2017Review

Zed, 2017; 256pp; £12.99 

Those who support the arms industry often seem to forget that its business is to manufacture items intended to harm and kill. It’s therefore validating for activists to read the evidence for the claims that the arms trade involves practices that are illegal, unjust, absurd and wasteful of tax payers money – including causing instability in developing countries.

This book also explains how defence spending since the Cold War has contributed negatively to economic growth, and examines…

1 April 2017Feature

On 29 January, a Methodist minister and a Quaker activist entered BAE Systems’ Warton site in order to disarm warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia.

Sam Walton (left) and Daniel Woodhouse, holding a replica Seeds of Hope Ploughshares hammer, before their Ploughshares action on 29 January 2017. Photo: Warton Ploughshares

This is a statement carried by the pair when they were arrested inside BAE Warton on 29 January.

Today we intend to enter BAE Warton, to locate warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia, and disarm them. We take this action in order to prevent the export of weaponry that will almost certainly be used in…

1 February 2017News

Activist gear up for arms fair protests

On 14 January, campaigners from around the country got together in the beautiful Ecology Centre in Islington, London. The aim? To get people trained and ready to give great workshops on stopping the DSEI arms fair before it opens its doors.

Every two years one of the world’s largest arms fairs comes to the UK, and the countdown to the next one is on. This September, Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI, pronounced by some campaigners as ‘dicey’) comes to London…

1 December 2016News

High Court to scrutinise UK arms exports

On 11 July, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) handed in a petition to Downing Street, London, against British arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Photo: CAAT

‘No one questions that these people are terrorists, but their presence in that city cannot justify an assault on 275,000 innocent people, still less the imposition of a siege, which is, by its very nature, a wholly indiscriminate tactic.’

These were the words of British foreign secretary Boris Johnson during a speech in which he…