A LABOUR MSP pulled out of sponsoring an event at the Scottish Parliament showcasing arms companies supplying weapons to Israel after he was confronted by the media.

Paul Sweeney, a Labour MSP for Glasgow, sponsored a Holyrood reception for the ADS Group, a trade organisation for the arms sector, which was also sponsored by weapons manufacturers Thales, which has sites in Glasgow and Rosyth.

Sweeney, a former BAE Systems employee, ended his support for the event when questioned about it by investigative news outlet The Ferret.

Firms invited to the reception include the US arms multinational Raytheon, which makes smart bombs for Israel, and Italian arms giant Leonardo, which makes components for the F-35 fighter jets which are used by Israeli forces.

A Dutch court on Monday blocked the export of F-35 parts to Israel citing concerns about the risk of them being used to carry out war crimes in the bombardment of Gaza.

The Ferret said it was unclear whether the event, planned for February 21, would go ahead without Sweeney’s sponsorship as they may need another member of parliament to sponsor it.

The ADS Scotland Council is led by senior executives from multinationals with a Scottish presence, including the Italian firm Leonardo, Thales, Raytheon, and BAE Systems.

French firm Thales is the lead sponsor of the event and has repeatedly been targeted by pro-Palestine protesters because of its relationship with the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems, which makes the Hermes 450 drone.

Raytheon makes guidance systems for smart bombs in Glenrothes and has also been protested by pro-Palestine activists.

The National: BAE Systems Govan

BAE Systems makes components for F-35 fighter jets, as does Leonardo, whose Edinburgh factory was also targeted by protesters.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ external affairs spokesperson, described the ADS Group as a “who’s who of the world’s worst arms dealers and war profiteers”.

READ MORE: Thales arms factory in Glasgow evacuated as pro-Palestine protesters storm building

He told The Ferret: “Many of the companies it represents have armed human rights abusers and dictatorships across the planet, including the Israeli occupation forces currently inflicting a genocide on the people of Gaza.”

'Business is booming for arms manufacturers' 

Gerry Coutts, of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “As executives are entertained at a prestigious reception, hundreds of thousands of displaced families are living an unfathomable existence in cold flooded tents in Rafah."

He added: “Business is booming for weapons manufacturers and while their shareholders count their vast profits the children of Gaza are paying the price.

"It is shameful that companies are profiting from what the International Criminal Court calls plausible genocide carried out by the Israeli military.”

A spokesperson for ADS said: “Our sectors are vital contributors to our prosperity. We are dedicated to supporting industry, civil society and our armed forces to navigate an increasingly challenging geopolitical environment. We are unwavering in our support to our four sectors that protect the UK’s safety, security, and very way of life.”

A spokesperson for Thales said their UK operations did not supply drones to the Israeli military, adding: “Thales, and the UK defence and security industry, works within robust ethical standards that are among the highest found anywhere in the world, and treats its responsibilities under the law with the utmost seriousness.

“The joint venture we have with Elbit only supplies the intelligence gathering unmanned air system to the British Army and none of the work on that is done at our site in Glasgow.”

Labour MSP responds 

Sweeney told The Ferret that “given the ongoing and appalling atrocities in Gaza” he was withdrawing his sponsorship of the event as he was “mindful of the sensitivities surrounding a number of ADS’s member organisations”.

He added: “I had initially agreed to sponsor the ADS ‘highlighting the role of apprentices in science and engineering’ parliamentary event for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, as I am acutely aware of the importance of apprenticeships to Scotland’s engineering industry.

READ MORE: Protest to be held amid ‘fury’ at Holyrood invitation to firms arming Israel

“As the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on maritime and shipbuilding, I regularly hear of the difficulties that shipyards have in attracting young talent into the shipbuilding industry – an industry that benefits Scotland’s economy greatly."

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “We can confirm that this event is scheduled to go ahead on February 21 and that all events held in the parliament require an MSP sponsor.

“Securing MSP sponsorship of an event is the responsibility of the event organiser.”

It comes amid rising concerns about Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has so far claimed more than 27,000 Palestinian lives, and the potential complicity of its allies, including the UK and the US in alleged war crimes.

Leonardo, BAE Systems and Raytheon were approached for comment.