Instro Precision has been rubbing out its website. It’s also been telling the local member of parliament, Craig Mackinlay, things which contradict what it was saying publicly just two months ago.
So either it was lying then, or it is lying now. Craig Mackinlay doesn’t care either way.
Two months ago, Instro Precision made a long-range laser range finder module called the LRF700. Here it is.
This module used to have a range of applications, including border surveillance systems, object tracking and – most significantly – UAVs (drones). Two months ago, the application to UAVs seemed important enough to Instro for it to give two mentions on the same page.
Now it isn’t mentioned once. Instro still makes the LRF700: the module’s webpage looks the same and smells the same, almost to the word. The only difference is that all references to UAVs have been removed.
Spot the difference?
So, what has happened in the past two months to make Instro revise its website, and put out a statement (through Mackinlay) reassuring local people that “it does not manufacture any components for use in drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)“?
One thing that’s happened is that we shut the factory down, yet again, in August. We shut it down on August 8th, and at that moment, Instro still admitted it made parts for drones. We even made a thing of it.
Then on August 27th, ex-leader of UKIP, and current Tory MP Craig Mackinlay paid a visit to the factory “in a display of support for the protest-ridden firm.” (his words). By that time, Instro had carried out its act of rubbing out. Drones had disappeared from the website, including from versions of the brochure for the LRF700. Craig thought he could make his statement without it being challenged. Journalists reported that he had ‘refuted’ protesters’ claims about Instro and UAVs.
Luckily, we’d kept a version of the brochure – downloaded in July 2016. And we also found the old LRF700 page on the wayback machine. Sure enough, the very same LRF700 was capable of being fitted to UAVs. Or so Instro had claimed – just two months back.
Two newspapers have picked up the story (here and here). Instro – as usual – won’t respond, and Craig has said that Instro told him so, and anyway he doesn’t care: even if the company does make parts for drones (and even if they lied to him) he still thinks they’re doing a jolly good job:
“It is of no concern to me if equipment manufactured at Instro is used within them [UAVs], 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.”
Craig Mackinlay, quoted here
Let’s remember that drones kill, targetting systems kill, and Instro sells to countries which are at this very moment engaged in brutal acts of war and repression – like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. They also aren’t a ‘local’ company: they’re part of Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems, which supplies the IDF with 85% of drones used against the Palestinian people.
We don’t necessarily think the drone parts that Instro (definitely) does make are any worse than its other components. In fact, we want the whole thing shutting down. But we also don’t think it is the job of an MP to act as the mouthpiece of a company without checking the words he’s being asked to spout; and then to say it doesn’t matter, when he finds out that the words he spouted were a lie.
The fact that he’s been caught out in a whitewash and refuses to recant suggests there really was some murky grime to cover up. But we knew that anyway.
** Instro is trying to expand. Please sign our petition to the CEO of Discovery Park, where it wants to move to. You can find it here **