In the wake of the massacre at Virginia Tech at least one charity will be relieved its money is not now being used to profit from the sale of guns in the USA.
A few weeks ago the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust dumped, on ethical grounds, £2 million in shares in Reed Elsevier which runs, through its exhibition division, the Shot Show in the USA. Reed Elsevier are also the organisers of the much criticised Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition (DSEI) held every two years at Excel in London’s Docklands, a venue in which Reed hold a 10% stake. Reeds enthusiasm for such events has recently been confirmed with its organisation of a new arms fair, IDEX, in Abu Dhabi.
In 2005, staff at Reed Elsevier’s magazine The Lancet urged their employer to give up their interests in arms shows, after noting the number of the world’s oppressive regimes that shopped at them and the presence of stun guns, stun batons and leg irons. These are illegal in the European Union but not in the USA, where one manufacturer at Reed’s USA Shot Show advertises stun products used for torture with the caring slogan “Making grown men cry since 1975”.
It is not known if any other charities hold any shares in Reed Elsevier although large blocks are held by most of the major banks, who have a less caring view on ethical issues, and less concern about where their money comes from. (See also Exhibition Update March/April issue at www.eou.org.uk).