A GROUP of peace campaigners from is again calling for a controversial defence exhibition to be cancelled.

The Three Counties Campaign Against the Arms Trade (Three Counties CAAT) has launcheda writing campaign to get their message across ahead of the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo, which is due to be held at the Three Counties Showground in July.

More than 300 letters and emails have reportedly been sent to the Showground, calling on them not to host the event, which sees businesses in the cyber and defence industries come together for networking.

Rebecca Tully, who co-ordinates the group, said: "The arms trade is very secretive about its business, so we felt it was our duty to let the Trustees of the Showground and others know that by hosting this fair, they are profiting from conflict and bloodshed around the world.

"The Showground says that it doesn’t want to make political choices, and that we are ‘bombarding’ it with emails and letters.

"We would argue that by hosting arms companies in this way, it is making a highly controversial, political choice.

"It has decided to support those who are literally bombarding places like Yemen. We believe it should think again."

The writing campaign has involved community and church groups across the Three Counties and beyond.

In their letters the campaigners say that, while they understand that times are difficult for venues, the Showground should not be receiving funds from organisations that profit from war, including the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

The Yemen conflict has been raging for six years, and has seen hundreds of thousands killed, with millions more dependent on humanitarian aid.

In response, The hosts of the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) said they "are immensely proud of and grateful to the armed services for putting themselves in the front line to preserve our security."

Richard Morgan, president of the Three Counties Defence and Security Group (3CDSG), which initiated 3CDSE, said: “3CDSG is fully committed to supporting the Armed Forces.

"Many local companies in the three counties area form a critical component of the Industrial Supply Base that supports our Armed Forces.

"3CDSE is a fantastic opportunity for those companies to engage directly with MOD and ensure that they are able to offer the best products and services to meet Defence's future needs.”

The event focuses on technology including cyber security, artificial intelligence and unmanned vehicles, which are aimed at improving defence and security knowledge and reducing human casualties.

Mr Morgan added: “The Three Counties have a strong connection with the military: forty thousand ex-services personnel and their families live in the region and many of these people are engaged in the very businesses 3CDSE is supporting.”

Ken Nottage, CEO of Three Counties Showground, said: "Three Counties Showground operates and hosts shows and events that regularly attract 1 million visitors in a normal year.

"The annual economic benefit of these activities supports over 400 jobs and includes roles for retired and ex-service personnel, such as site safety and security.

"We are hugely supportive of third-party events such as the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE).

"Events like these have a vital role to play in encouraging and supporting local business enterprise."

The Showground and 3CDSE have ensured that the event will be conducted in a COVID-safe manner and entirely in line with Government guidelines and restrictions.

The event is not for profit and with profits going to a number of Defence Charities and the Three Counties Defence and Security Group (3CDSG), a trade association to support small and medium-sized enterprises to attend future business development events.