POLITICS
12/09/2013 04:39 BST | Updated 12/09/2013 05:11 BST

Boris Johnson Under Fire After Dealers Ejected For Promoting Illegal Weapons At Arms Fair

London Mayor Boris Johnson launches his 2020 Vision for London at City Hall, London.
PA
London Mayor Boris Johnson launches his 2020 Vision for London at City Hall, London.

Boris Johnson is under fire for initially justifying London hosting the world's largest arms fair as it offered "legal weapons", after two arms dealers attending the fair were expelled for promoting torture implements that broke UK law.

Organisers at the "Defence Security Equipment International" fair, which started on Tuesday in London's ExCel Centre, have confirmed that French firm Magforce International and Chinese firm Tianjin Myway International Trading Co. had been expelled for promoting items including handheld projectile electric shock weapons, weighted leg cuffs and stun batons.

London Assembly chair and Green member Darren Johnson told HuffPostUK: "The suspension of two stall holders at the London arms fair has destroyed the Mayor’s defence of the DSEI show as being a good thing because it gives access to legal weapons."

LibDem assembly member Stephen Knight said: “The Mayor’s uncritical defence of every aspect of the DSEI arms show has been totally undermined by the actions that DSEI have been forced to take against two exhibitors.

“The Mayor should now have the grace to accept he has been monumentally wrong in claiming that all the weapons promoted at this event are ‘legal’," he added.

The news comes after Green MP Caroline Lucas told Commons speaker John Bercow that she had found evidence that the firms had been promoting "illegal weapons of torture" at the fair.

Lucas said it was "disgusting" that "items like this are being are being promoted at a supposedly legitimate trade event in Britain".

“It’s incredibly worrying that it takes a question in Parliament for action to be taken when there was clear evidence of items being promoted illegally.

"The government is supposed to regulate this event and has shown startling complacency.”

DSEI organisers said: "The stands have been shut down and the exhibitors ejected. In line with our policies this matter has been passed on to the authorities."

Boris Johnson previously defended the arms show, arguing that it was "sensible" to provide governments with access to "legal weapons".

"Insofar as it is necessary for governments and authorities to be properly equipped against those who mean them and their people harm, it is only sensible to have legal weapons. It so happens that this country is an expert at making some of them," he told HuffPost UK on Monday.

City Hall has not responded to requests for comment.