Man held in bomb detectors probe


An Iraqi police instructor explains how to use the hand-held ADE651 (AP)

A man has been arrested by police investigating the supply and sale of allegedly ineffective bomb detecting devices to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Avon and Somerset Police arrested the 54-year-old from Merseyside on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation on Wednesday.

A police spokesman said: “This is a complex and prolonged investigation being undertaken by the force.”

The latest development follows the arrest on January 5 last year of Jim McCormick, 54, from Somerset, who was questioned on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation. Mr McCormick is the director of Wincanton-based company ATSC.

On January 22 last year the Government banned the export of a machine marketed as a bomb detector to Iraq and Afghanistan after the allegations emerged.

The then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the ban on the ADE651, marketed by ATSC, after an investigation for BBC Two’s Newsnight challenged the scientific basis for the technology it uses.

Britain’s embassy in Baghdad raised concerns over the hand-held device with the Iraqi government which is reported to have bought large numbers of ADE651s for use at security checkpoints.

In a statement, BIS said: “Tests have shown that the technology used in the ADE651 and similar devices is not suitable for bomb detection. As non-military technology it does not need an export licence, and we would not normally need to monitor its sale and use abroad. However, it is clearly of concern that it is being used as bomb detection equipment.”

The department made an order under the Export Control Act 2002, banning the export of devices of this type to Iraq and Afghanistan. “The reason the ban is limited to these two countries is that our legal power to control these goods is based on the risk that they could cause harm to UK and other friendly forces,” said BIS.

A second Somerset man, 42, was arrested in July on suspicion of fraud offences. All three men arrested in connection with the inquiry have been released on bail pending further investigations.

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