Banned stun guns and leg irons advertised at arms fair
Leg irons, stun guns, and stun batons - banned for export under British law - are being advertised in catalogues at the international arms fair in London's Docklands. The instruments feature in the catalogues of an Israeli company, TAR Ideal, which describes itself as world leader in supplying riot control gear.
The company advertises batons which it describes as a "powerful defensive weapon for stunning and hitting". When used as a baton it delivers a debilitating 300,000 volt shock. A stun gun on offer is said to deliver a high voltage shock, immobilising a potential attacker for several minutes. The company describes its "leg cuffs" as of "all-steel construction", with a "rust-resistant nickel finish" and "sturdy, loadable, foot chain".
One of the first acts of the Labour government in 1997 was to ban the export of equipment which could be used for torture, including "portable devices designed or modified for riot control purposes, or self-protection to administer an electric shock, including electric-shock batons ... stun guns [and] leg irons".
The government last year extended controls over the export of banned products by saying they applied to any Briton anywhere in the world.
The catalogues on display at the London docklands defence exhibition were discovered by the activist and comedian Mark Thomas.
Representatives from TAR Ideal did not reply to messages about them. However, Angus Taverner, a representative from Perdix Media Operations, which is helping Spearhead, the organisers of the arms fair, said TAR Ideal was advertising but "not selling the equipment at the show".
Mr Thomas yesterday approached the Israeli company with the catalogues, suggesting he was interested in buying the stun guns. According to a transcript of the conversation, the company said its name could be removed from the weapons. It said it did not have any examples of the stun guns or leg irons on show. Mr Thomas said he planned to arrange a meeting with the company today. He said he had also contacted a South African company at the show which made stun batons.
Organisers of the arms show are increasingly sensitive about the sale or promotion of controversial weapons systems by exhibitors. They have asked exhibitors who make cluster bombs, which though not illegal can seriously injure and kill civilians, not to display or discuss them.
MPs of all parties and campaigners against arms sales highlight what they describe as loopholes in many national laws covering the international weapons trade.
Von: 16 September 2005, http://politics.guardian.co.uk, by Richard Norton-Taylor