Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News and Other Busyness

Arms Exhibitor Drops Libel Action

Squall 14, Autumn 1996, pg. 6.

LIBEL actions brought by an arms exhibitor against two peace campaigns were struck out of court in July.

It is likely the actions brought by Copex - Covert and Operational Procurement Exhibitions - against a number of individuals will meet the same fate.

But the Campaign Against Arms Trade and Peace News could be left with a bill of £20,000.

According to Tim Wallis of Peace News, Copex have gone to ground and their solicitors successfully applied to cease representing them. “They owe us thousands of pounds,” said Wallis.

This year’s arms exhibition will still go ahead, but under the auspices of Osprey Exhibitions - a group with the same address and directors as Copex.

Copex issued libel suits against CAAT and Peace News following allegations that they displayed electro-shock batons last year. (See Squall 12).

The allegations following a Channel Four Dispatches documentary last year, The Torture Trail, and claimed British Aerospace had a role in the export of electroshock batons. The programme questioned the role of Copex in these transactions.

CAAT were sued for alleging the exhibitions were a “market place for electro-shock batons and other torture equipment”.

Peace News was sued for reporting the action. A writ was also served on the Cornwall based magazine Greenline for the same reason.

But, following months of delay, Copex failed to show up in the High Court when CAAT and Peace News applied for the suits to be struck out. Copex had not been responding to correspondence from the groups’ solicitors.

The cases against five individuals, who took up a CAAT suggestion to write in protest to the manager of Sandown Racecourse, where a Copex exhibition was held in November last year, were held over pending the result of the CAAT and Peace News suits.

A CAAT spokeswoman told Squall: “Because it was a success for us it is likely to be a success for them.”

No action was brought against the makers of the Dispatches programme. The National peace Council, and the Esher Times, Sandown’s local paper, were also issued with writs after running the story and settled out of court. They both apologised and the National peace Council paid £3,000 damages.

Action against the Sporting Life, which also took up the story, was dropped after it requested documents from Copex pertaining to the case.