Funding of "Making it ethically in China"

John Robertson made this Freedom of Information request to University of the Arts London

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The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

The event "Making it ethically in China" is not strictly run by London College of Fashion or University of the Arts but so closely linked that the finances must be available to LCF and University of the Arts management, otherwise they would not know what they are funding or giving office space and support to.

What funding is specifically provided for "Making it ethically in China?"

What finding is provided to Own-it events in general, listed by the name of the funder and amount or vica versa?

Yours faithfully,

John Robertson

PS For reference, this is the web site advertising the event:

This is the email description of the event from own-it:

Own-it Event:
Making it ethically in China -
A practical guide for fashion and textile designers

Sourcing materials or manufacturing in China should be considered seriously if you want to compete in a global market and keep production cost low. Many do not think that China should be your first port of call if you have decided to build your brand on a sustainable business model in
which worker's rights are recognised, the materials used are environmentally friendly and your carbon footprint is as small as possible. However, China has started to acknowledge the need for sustainable business practices in the production of textiles and clothing, and has set up the
Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium in Hong Kong in 2008 to promote just that.

Own-it, Ethical Fashion Forum and Creative Connexions have invited a panel of experts to discuss the current situation in China, how designers can source manufacturers and material that meets their ethical standards and how they can monitor compliance. A lawyer will speak about important
clauses in manufacturing or licensing contracts concerning IP rights and confidentiality, as well as what to do when you are faced with counterfeits that are cheap, unethically sourced and damage your good name.

28.10.09 Time: 6-8pm followed by
drinks and networking until 9pm

Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP

Cost: Free (paid for by taxpayers)

John Robertson left an annotation () shows grant 19591 of ££210,000 paid to University of the Arts for Own-it covering the year to 31/3/2009

Sheila Suso-Runge, University of the Arts London

Dear John Robertson
Thank you for your freedom of information request, which we acknowledge recent of. We will endeavour to reply as quickly as possible.
Sheila Suso-Runge

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John Robertson left an annotation ()

Serious Doubts about Fairness Trial in Attack on Chinese Worker Advocate
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 00:00

Migrant Worker Centre staff show pictures of the attacks

On January 16, 2009, the hearing of five suspects in the Huang Qingnan case took place before the Shenzhen Longgang District People's Court. This trial followed upon the November 2007 attack on Huang Qingnan of the Dagongzhe (DGZ) Migrant Worker Centre* in Shenzhen in China (see also the previous CCC postings on this case). Huang Qingnan was seriously injured after being stabbed by two unidentified men. The court has yet to issue its decision, but the procedures followed thus far raise serious doubts about the fairness of the trial.

The court agreed in December 2008 that the courtroom should be fit to accommodate national and international observers, and to observe the requirements of an open public trial. However, entrance was refused to over 60 supporters, including Chinese workers, both domestic and foreign group representatives and journalists. Contrary to the law, the trial was delayed for a long time, and the (oral) notice of the court's hearing on January 16 was delivered only three days in advance. The court furthermore insisted on a bodily security inspection of Huang Qingnan and his lawyer, which is a violation of the Highest People Court regulation on security inspections, but did not wait for Huang Qingnan's presence in the courtroom before starting the hearing.

Equally concerning is the lack of proper investigation into the background and motives of the defendants. One of them has been identified as a local businessman who owns several local factories. However, during the trial no reference was made to the business interests that might have motivated the crime, or to the possibility that the defendants committed the crime under instructions from others. Likewise, the court ignored the question whether the crimes could be connected to the practice of collecting protection fees by local gangs. Finally, the court decided to disregard the assessment by the Shenzhen City Inspection Office and Police Department at the beginning of 2008 that Huang's injuries were "a 6th degree disability and serious injury". Instead the court accepted an assessment made in December 2008 by the Shenzhen City Judicial Department, that concluded that the injuries are of a lesser degree. According to Huang's lawyer, the Judicial Department is an advisory body only, and therefore its assessments have no legal value in court.

This critically important trial should have given a clear warning that worker rights defenders' safety are protected under the Chinese law. Instead, the proceedings in this trial seriously raise questions about the fairness of the court. On January 15, 2009, we called upon you to write to the Chinese authorities to ensure that a fair and open trial would take place. We now again ask you to send your letter to the Chinese authorities to continue the international pressure, and insist that the Shenzhen and central governments:

1. Guarantee that district courts respect national laws, and protect the principles of fair and public trials;
2. Investigate the Longgang District Court's violations of national law with regard to the "instructions from superiors" that denied observers entry to the court and allowed for the bodily search of the plaintiff and his lawyer;
3. Openly condemn the Longgang District Court's efforts to obstruct justice including the depriving of citizens' right to observe public trials and groundless security inspections;
4. Ensure that national laws and international standards to protect workers and workers' advocates safety are implemented.

* The DGZ Centre provides a free library, labour law education and free legal consultation to the many migrant workers in Shenzhen. The attacks appear to have been an effort to prevent the Centre from empowering migrant workers and educating them about China's new Labour Contract Law, which went into effect in 2008.

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John Robertson left an annotation ()

Related question:

This asks London Development agency how they calculate their claims of success for London Fashion Week.

Sheila Suso-Runge, University of the Arts London

Dear John Robertson
In reply to your freedom of information request please find the following;

What funding is specifically provided for Making it ethically in China
£3,300 including VAT

What funding is provided to Own It events, generally listed by funder.
Activities are funded through the following projects, all these activities include events;
Cranfield University Centre for Competitive Design Aug 2008 - Aug 2010 £87,500
Own It +Hefce May 2009 - Aug 2010 £100,509
Own IT + Teeside University Oct 2008 - March 2010 £69,345
Creative Connexions May 2009 - Oct 2009 £7,380

I hope you find this informative and thank you for your interest in the University of the Arts London
Sheila Suso-Runge
020 7514 6484

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John Robertson left an annotation ()

Sent: 11 September 2009 10:25
To: All London Assembly members for SW14
Subject: Letter from your constituent

Dear Jenny Jones, Gareth Bacon, Victoria Borwick, Dee Doocey, Nicky Gavron, Caroline Pidgeon, Richard Barnbrook, Darren Johnson, Mike Tuffrey, Andrew Boff and Murad Qureshi,

Will you consider passing-on my concern to the London Development Agency about an event it has funded?

"Making it ethically in China - a practical guide for fashion and textile designers" is a seminar telling
fashion designers how to cheat in competition with designers who London factories by pretending that Chinese goods can ever be ethical; it is an event paid for by Londoners in order to put Londoners out of work. In more moderate language it seems opposite the LDA grant headings of "Tackle barriers to employment" in London workshops, "Reduce disparities in the labour market", "Address barriers to enterprise start up, growth and competitiveness". It also undermines the work of council trading standards departments in making sure that goods are accurately labelled. is the event
.2654 (ref 19591) shows the last £250,000 annual grant.

Any forwarding of concerns to the LDA would be appreciated, and of course if they could ask the event to be cancelled that would be even better.

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Thank you for your email regarding the 'Own-It' event about ethically sourcing materials from China. As the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Economic Development on the London Assembly I am replying on behalf of my colleagues Mike Tuffrey and Caroline Pidgeon.

I am very happy to pass on your email stating your concerns about this event to the London Development Agency, and have done so today.
Dee Doocey AM

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Richard Barnbrook, London Assembly member, wrote to say that he will ask a question at Mayor's question time.

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Many thanks for your message. I am responding on behalf of the Green Assembly Members, myself and Jenny Jones AM. I understand your concerns and have tabled a formal question to the Mayor of London. I will let you have the Mayor's response as soon as it is received.

Question to Mayor: Do you think it appropriate that the LDA funded a seminar entitled "Making it ethically in China - a practical guide for fashion and textile designers" given that the LDA's remit is to promote employment prospects and enterprise in London rather than encourage businesses to outsource their production abroad?

Cllr. Darren Johnson AM

John Robertson left an annotation ()

This is a question to UK Trade and Investment, one of 39 non-ministerial departments in the UK. It asks what safeguards are in place to prevent UK taxpayers paying for China out-sourcing by UK-based firms.

Dear Sheila Suso-Runge,

Thanks for your help

Yours sincerely,

John Robertson

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Readable version of this story with links to sources

John Robertson left an annotation ()

This response from the director of Ethical Fashion Forum, another government-funded group. The last two or three sentences read in a different style, as though added by funders' press agents.

Hi Veganline

This is an interesting one. At the Ethical Fashion Forum, we run regular training events and the most common request we have had is for events on how to manage sourcing from China. The fact is that the majority of fashion is now sourced from China. It is not possible to talk about fashion and sustainability and omit the discussion of China.

There is no doubt that there are ethical concerns with sourcing from China. Hundreds of fashion industry professionals are concerned about that- we receive their emails every week. Often working within companies with a remit to source from China, they want to do something about it. This event is offering advice and support to do just that- and it will make a difference for workers in China. London is not isolated- we live in a globalised world. It is long sighted of the LDA to see the relevance of the conditions for workers in China , and the environmental impact of factories there, to our lives in London. It is not until conditions improve elsewhere that we will be able to compete again as a manufacturing hub for the fashion industry.


John Robertson left an annotation ()

This is a request for the brief and budget of Creative Connexions, one of the funders of Own-it. It also asks what safeguards are in place to stop money intended to help exporters in fact help out-sourcers.

John Robertson left an annotation () is a link to a request to the Department for International Develpment asking why they fund a company who's director states this:

"I don't think you can compare countries. You're just as likely to have a sweatshop down the road here in London in the east end as you are in China, India or Bangladesh. One of the best factories I've come across in the world was in China. One of the worst factories I've come across in the world was in China."

"I would never fly overseas to a foreign country as a white Englishwoman and audit their factory. I'm not from their culture, I don't necessarily speak the language - though I do speak Chinese. I trained as a social auditor, so I've done auditing on the ground
here in the UK. And actually here in the UK, there's such an immigrant workforce in factories, many of the people I interviewed were non-native Englishspeakers."

It is odd not to notice any difference in conditions between China and the UK such as free hospitals, pensions and unemployment pay, access to a legal system and more.

The person, Clare Lissaman, is a director of Ethical Fashion Forum which states something similar on its web site and that it is funded by the department.

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Full text of the Clare Lissaman's published by New Internationalist is here:

Clare Lissaman is a director of the UK government funded Ethical Fashion Forum.