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CAMPAIGN AGAINST 'GUANTANAMO SHACKLE - MAKERS' Firms urged to join fight on Brum handcuffs business.

Byline: BY FIONNUALA BOURKE

BUSINESS leaders are being urged to campaign against a Midland company which allegedly makes handcuffs and shackles worn by Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Hiatt has been making the restraints for 225 years at its factory, in Great Barr, Birmingham.

But prisoners' charity Reprieve is campaigning against the company after claiming its products have been used on terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay.

Hiatt strenuously denies the claims. Birmingham accountancy firm Wenham Major is supporting the organisation through its new charitable trust, Humanade, which tackles human rights issues.

Business leaders across the country were invited to the launch of the trust at Birmingham Town Hall on Wednesday.

They were accompanied by a host of glamorous celebrities, including designers Jasmine Guinness and sexy lingerie firm Agent Provocateur boss Joseph Corre.

Amar Azzam, chief executive of Wenham Major, said: "We are supporting Reprieve and hope to encourage more charities like this to contact us.

"We have had a great response to our launch. A quarter of the money raised will be used locally."

But Mr Azzam declined to make any comment over Hiatt's business practices.

He said: "This is not a political scenario. I cannot comment on what Hiatt do. I do not know if they were invited to the launch or whether they attended."

Birmingham dad-of-three Moazzam Begg was held captive in Guantanamo Bay - and claims he was tortured there.

Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith visited Mr Begg at the camp and claimed: "As I sat across the table from Moazzam Begg in the interrogation cells, I noticed the inscription 'Made In England' on his steel waist shackles, above the name of Hiatt's corporation.

"This company has a long history of making shackles that restrain the victims of torture. As Moazzam is from Birmingham, every chafe at the wrist was a touching reminder of home."

But when contacted by the Sunday Mercury, a Hiatt spokeswoman denied the company had made shackles used in Guantanamo Bay.

fionnualabourke@mrn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

PROTEST: A prisoner at Guantanamo Bay and, inset left, Hiatt handcuffs and, right, a protest at the firm's Birmingham HQ last year
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 24, 2008
Words:353
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