Socialist Worker

Exclusive: Firm linked to Tories provided tear gas canisters used in Tahrir Square

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2280

A British arms company with links to the Tory party has produced some of the tear gas canisters used against protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo.

Chemring Defence, of Fareham Hampshire, manufactures and exports CS canisters.

The majority of CS gas comes from the US. But evidence seen by Socialist Worker shows spent CS canisters with the markings of those produced by Chemring Defence.

The British government has given no firms permission to export gas to Egypt since before 1999. Yet some of the canisters used in Tahrir Square, at least, appear to be made in Britain.

At the beginning of this year, the Tories stopped companies, including Chemring, selling “non lethal weapons” to Bahrain and Libya after pressure.

There are also concerns that the stronger and more harmful CR gas is also being used against protesters.

The links between arms firms, the military and the government are murky.

Take Lord Freeman who sits on the board of Chemring Defence’s parent company Chemring Group. He is a former Tory MP and government minister who sits in the House of Lords.

Freeman is currently a consultant to PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is also the chairman of Thales UK plc another arms company and one that was part of David Cameron’s tour of arms dealers to Egypt earlier this year.

Or there is Air Marshal Sir Peter Norris, who is a Chemring non-executive director. Norris used to be the deputy chief of defence procurement (Operations). In other words, he used to buy weapons for the government – and now he sells them.

Socialist Worker can reveal that there have been at least two meetings between representatives of Chemring and government ministers in the last year.

Chemring met with parliamentary under-secretaries of state Peter Luff and Gerald Howarth to discuss the company’s exports.

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