MSP calls for HIE-sponsored defence industry workshop to be halted

Moray firms expected to be interested in defence-related contracts – but MSP wants workshop halted.

HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS Enterprise has come under attack from regional Green MSP John Finnie who has called on them to scrap a workshop they plan to hold at An Lòchran Inverness Campus next week.

Mr Finnie is incensed that the workshop is aimed at businesses concerned with the defence industry, inviting business throughout Moray and the Highlands to learn of possible opportunities in that sector.

The MSP said that he has previously raised concerns with HIE about their use of public funds to support the defence industry. This week he submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament condemning the event and the use of public funding to promote an industry that “produces weapons that can be used to maim and kill innocent civilians”.

He is also calling on the Scottish Government to review policies for agencies it funds on the promotion of such organisations.

Mr Finnie said: “Public money should not be used to support the design, manufacture and sale of arms. The arms industry around the world is obscenely wealthy and needs no encouragement, let alone public finance to support its sordid trade.

“When I’ve previously raised issued with HIE about their support I’ve been told it’s hard to separate the manufacture of items which could have an application for the defence industries.

“There’s precious little public money about and it certainly should not be used to advance this particular sector.

“I have contacted the Chief Executive of HIE asking that she cancel this event and hope the Scottish Government will be progressive and stop all public support to the arms sector.”

Several Moray-based businesses are expected to attend the workshop, some of whom are already concerned in defence industry related contracts.