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Woman arrested at Bristol trade exhibition - Defence Procurement Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2013 at UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre

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Written by:   | Posted 21-November-2013 10:39

One woman was arrested at a defence sector trade exhibition at UWE which was the target of protesters who described the event as an "arms fair".

Campaigners and activists gathered outside the UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre early yesterday morning.

The demonstration caused delays on  the roads surrounding the campus after activists temporarily blocked the north entrance.

A video was posted online showing campaigners marching through the conference centre in protest with a megaphone.

Police said that the demonstration had passed without major incident although there were a handful of "scuffles" between officers and activists.

A police spokesperson said a woman in her 20s was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. She was released on bail.

The conference – Defence Procurement Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2013 – was a chance for companies such as BAE Systems to exhibit defence products to potential buyers.

However, organisers BiP Solutions told student newspaper Western Eye: "The exhibitors at DPRTE will NOT have any form of munitions, weaponry, artillery or hazardous military equipment on site."

Mike Campbell, an activist with Bristol Against Arms Trade, described the event as an "arms fair" and accused the university of "legitimising the arms trade" by allowing the conference to go ahead.

Carly, a UWE engineering student, told the Bristol Post she was disappointed the university was providing a platform for businesses involved with arms dealing even if the exhibition was not classed as an arms fair.

A video, broadcast on the Facebook group "No WMDs at UWE: Keep the arms trade off campus", showed student protesters marching through the exhibition with a megaphone.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor  for the University of the West of England, insisted that the exhibition was not an arms fair.

He said: "The exhibitors at this conference do not have any form of munitions, weaponry, artillery or hazardous military equipment on site.

"It is not university policy to support arms fairs.

"The conference and exhibition focuses on helping the management of procurement projects for the defence industry, a key sector in the British economy."

Avon and Somerset Police said the protest passed peacefully.

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