Reed attacked by own title over arms fair

The Lancet has hit out at "the damage being done" to its reputation from publisher Reed Elsevier's involvement in arms fairs.

The title used its latest edition, dated 24 March, to reiterate its opposition to the defence-related fairs and called on Reed Elsevier to stop what it sees as a damaging link to the arms industry.

The editors of The Lancet stated in their piece: "We are very concerned, once again, by the issue of arms fairs and the adverse effects this industry has on civilian public health."

Also in the edition are three pages of letters from top doctors arguing that the publisher should not be linked to the arms trade. They include responses from Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, and American academic Noam Chomsky.

This the latest attack on Reed Elsevier for the arms fairs — which include Defence Services and Equipment International — which it runs through its events division, Reed Exhibitions.

In its March edition, the British Medical Journal, the publishing division of the British Medical Association, used its editorial to advocate a boycott of The Lancet by contributors in protest of its publisher's links.

The Lancet's editor, Richard Horton, has also been outspoken about his publisher's other activities, calling for an end to them as early as September 2005.

In a statement, Reed Elsevier reiterated its stance that it did not see any conflict of interest in "its connections with the scientific and health communities and the legitimate defence industry".

The statement added: "We accept that Reed Elsevier publications may occasionally take editorial positions which are critical of their owners, as is the case on this issue.

"Nonetheless, as a company with a long-standing commitment to free speech, we fully respect the opinions of The Lancet's editors and its readers to hold those views."

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