Call for Lancet boycott over arms fair link

The BMJ has called for the boycott of fellow medical journal The Lancet, in protest at its publisher’s involvement in organising arms fairs.

The former British Medical Journal, the publishing division of the British Medical Association (BMA), used its March editorial to attack Reed Elsevier, accusing the publisher of “war-mongering”

and called on contributors to boycott The Lancet, its flagship medical publication.

The editorial by BMJ editor Fiona Godlee and clinical evidence editor Charles Young said: “By facilitating the sale of armaments, Reed Elsevier is directly implicated in causing untold damage to health.”

Young was previously an executive editor at The Lancet – widely regarded as competition to the BMJ. But the BMJ editors denied they were “cashing in on the Lancet’s discomfort” and had no with to see it “diminished”.

Calling for a boycott, they wrote that “academic and industry funded researchers should now agree not to submit their high profile randomised control trials to Reed Elsevier journals until links with the arms trade are ended.”

The Lancet’s editor Richard Horton had already written about Reed Elsevier’s arms exhibitions in an article calling for an end to these activities in September 2005.

Patrick Reed, a spokesman for Reed Elsevier said: “We fully respect the opinions of both The Lancet and the BMJ. However, as a publishing company with a long-standing commitment to free speech and editorial independence, we accept that Reed Elsevier publications such as The Lancet may occasionally take positions which are critical of their owners, as is the case on this issue.

“Furthermore, we do not see any conflict between our connections with the scientific and health communities and with the legitimate defence industry trade exhibitions we run.”

Earlier this year, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust sold its stake in Reed Elsevier for £2 million, in objection to its involvement in fairs such as Defence Systems and Equipment international in East London.

By Patrick Smith A women’s group staged an angry protest at the Ealing Gazette offices against the paper’s refusal to cover their annual International Women’s Day for the last four years.

Thirteen staff and volunteers from the Drug and Alcohol Action Programme (DAAP), a charity based in Southall, west London, arrived at the Gazette offices last Wednesday, with their own photographer, and handed over a petition signed by more than 350 local women and demanded to meet the paper’s editor, Shajaul Azam.

Azam described the scene on his blog on the Gazette website. He said: “With an accompanying male photographer snapping away, they thrust a letter and a petition saying we should hang our heads in shame.

“Their shock tactics, unfortunately did not do them any favours and they finally left. However, if they want to be a bit more constructive in the future, then I’m happy to meet them.”

Azam told Press Gazette that an organiser from the group contacted him last week to request a meeting with him to “hand over a letter”

but he refused because it was the paper’s press day and suggested another date.

Perminder Dhillon, chief executive of DAAP, said: “These weren’t ‘shock tactics’ but merely us exercising our democratic right to raise issues. It is important for people to appreciate the views of actual and potential readers and to be informed when there is an issue of exclusion.”

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Ealing Gazette faces angry protest

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