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Campaigners claim arms firm Instro Precision may have misled its supporter MP Craig Mackinlay

By Eleanor Perkins

Activists against the work of an arms company are calling for the Sandwich MP to retract his support of the firm.

East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade (EKCAAT) say Craig Mackinlay may have been misled by Instro Precision into making a statement in its defence when he repeated the company’s claim that it does not make components used in drone warfare.

References to military drones, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and their components, have since been removed from the company’s website, the group claims.

The Bikes against Bombs protest outside Sandwich Guildhall
The Bikes against Bombs protest outside Sandwich Guildhall

This newspaper has seen before and after screen shots corroborating this, relating specifically to the LRF700 component, used for surveillance.

The members feel Instro is now “trying to cover its tracks.”

Instro has been contacted for a response to the claims but so far no response has been received by the time The Mercury went to press.

Patrick Foy, of EKCAAT, said: “It appears Instro Precision has either given Craig Mackinlay partial information at best or, at worst, misled him about the nature of its business.

“Until August it was explicitly marketing its equipment as having drone uses but it then told a member of Parliament the opposite.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

“Mr Mackinlay has, in defending Instro, made a public statement that our evidence shows is demonstrably misleading. We call on Craig Mackinlay to retract his false statement.”

However, the Conservative MP has said he will continue to support the Broadstairs based company, which is soon to move to Discovery Park in Sandwich.

He said: “EKCAAT have a hang up on any UAV devices. UAVs are hugely efficient in surveillance or direct offensive activities. The only difference between a drone and a conventional aircraft is that a drone keeps British pilots out of harms way. I think that is to be celebrated.

“It is of no concern to me if equipment manufactured at Instro is used within them, but there is no indication that they have been so used. In any event if the ‘LRF700’ was being manufactured exclusively for drones, Instro would continue to receive my full support as a valuable local employer.”

More than 200 people from across Kent, including Sandwich, have so far signed online and paper copies of a petition asking the CEO of Discovery Park to halt the company’s move to Sandwich.

Patrick Foy added: “It is regrettable that Mr Mackinlay chooses to act as the mouthpiece of an arms company rather than representing his many constituents who see its presence as a stain on the county.”

Discovery Park, where Instro plans to move, has also been approached for a comment.

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