Arms trade hoax outed as organisers admit it was “elaborate stunt” to embarrass weapons dealers

A wonderful hoax highlighting the hypocrisy of the arms trade and the UK government’s willingness to sell weapons to oppressive regimes was “outed” today on the World Service.

The BBC had invited an organisation called Life Neutral for an interview to discuss a new scheme to “offset” deaths caused by the arms industry’s weapons, by funding families to have more children. Funds would be made available by weapons manufacturers, Life Neutral claimed, to help people have children to make up for the countless children killed by the arms trade. It claimed to be exhibiting at this week’s Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair in London. “For every life lost as a result of the use of products from our member organisations,” Life Neutral explains on its website,, “we make sure that a new life flourishes”.

In the interview, which you can listen to here,, the interviewer voices suspicions that Life Neutral is not what it claims to be, pointing out that there’s no record of any exhibitor by that name at the DSEI event.

The interviewee then came clean, confessing that the whole thing was a stunt designed to embarrass the arms dealers – “some of the nastiest people on the planet” – who have flooded into our capital city this week.

As hoaxes go, it was fab. There was a flurry of Tweeting earlier this week as news of Life Neutral came out, with many, including me, unsure whether the scheme was a clever spoof or a horrible, sick, perverse reality. Could these deeply unpleasant warmongers stoop so low as to think every death they were responsible for could be “offset” by a new life? The very fact that so many people thought it could be true shows the low esteem in which the arms trade is held – a level of esteem which can only get lower following Amnesty International’s revelations yesterday that exhibitors at DSEI were selling instruments of torture that are supposedly illegal in this country.

The organisation behind Life Neutral is a group of “anarchitects” called the Space Hijackers, who oppose the “constant oppressive encroachment onto public spaces of institutions, corporations and urban planners. We oppose the way that public space is being eroded and replaced by corporate profit making space.”

More info:,

Pic credit: Simon Howden,

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