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[casi-analysis] BBC's John Simpson refuses to speak at Iraq business conference

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PRESS RELEASE            Voices in the Wilderness UK [A]
22nd April 2004
Contact 0845 458 2564 or 07947 839 992


Activists to protest at oil and arms trade-backed Iraq Procurement

The BBC's World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, has refused to speak at a
business conference next week at which representatives from 300
companies - including Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and US arms
manufacturer Raytheon - will meet members of the US-installed Iraqi
"government" to discuss 'the wide range of … opportunities available'
to make a profit out of the increasingly blood-soaked occupation of Iraq
[B]. Mr Simpson's agency had apparently forgotten to inform their
client, who only found out that he was listed on the conference web-site
[C] as the 'guest speaker' at the conference's 'four course [gala]
dinner with wine' yesterday afternoon, after Voices UK circulated a
press release urging him to pull out of the event.

In an email to Voices UK, Mr Simpson explained that the moment he heard
his name was on the conference web-site he 'immediately rang the
organizers to make it clear there was no possibility of [his] taking
part.' 'I'd never accept an invitation to anything that was as
contentious as this,' he added.

Voices spokesperson Gareth Evans said 'We are very pleased to learn that
John Simpson will not be speaking at this conference and that he was
unaware his name was being used by the event's organizers. John Simpson
was one of the few journalists to speak out against the devastating UN
sanctions on Iraq, so we are not surprised to learn that this "booking"
had nothing to do with him. We would urge any other public figures that
are approached to speak at this event over the coming week to similarly

Voices is one of a number of groups and individuals helping to organise
a protest to coincide with next Tuesday's conference dinner. Two suited
'pigs' bearing corporate logos will gorge themselves on a trough of
blood-stained banknotes at 6.30pm next Tuesday outside the London Hilton
on Park Lane to protest against the 'corporate feeding frenzy' taking
place at the business conference and dinner. The Hilton is the 'official
hotel of choice' for the conference. The protest, in support of the
rights of Iraqi workers and demanding 'reconstruction, not rip-off',
will also feature speakers from the Union of Unemployed Iraqis, the
Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq, and the Campaign Against Arms
Trade amongst others.

For more info. contact 0845 458 2564 or 07947 839 992

[A] Voices in the Wilderness UK has been campaigning on Iraq for the
last six years. For more info. see
[B] See
[C] See
Emma Sangster

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