Rights campaigners accuse government of chasing lucrative arms contracts while spurning Geneva conference ‘where decisions made could save millions of lives’

The British government has been criticised for lining up cabinet members to speak at a weapons fair, but failing to send a minister to a UN event aimed at stopping the trade of illicit arms.

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, and the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, are among those speaking at the London arms fair, which begins on Tuesday and is one of the biggest weapons and security fairs in the world. Harriett Baldwin, minister for defence procurement, and Ben Wallace, minister of state for security, will also attend.

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