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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Firm that supplied Tasers used in Raoul Moat standoff loses licence

September 28, 2010

The company that supplied the Taser guns used by police in their standoff with Raoul Moat has had its licence revoked, the Home Office said today.

The home secretary, Theresa May, withdrew the authority of Pro-Tect Systems to supply the weapons after it "breached its licence".

The company was licensed to supply the Tasers to the Home Office for testing but not to supply them to police. It also "breached rules governing the secure transport of the devices and ammunition," the Home Office said.

Northumbria police used an XRep Taser to bring to an end one of the biggest manhunts in British history in the early hours of 10 July.

Moat had shot his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, killed Chris Brown, 29, and blinded police constable David Rathband, 42.

At Moat's inquest, the Home Office confirmed that the XRep Taser, which is fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, was not approved for use by forces in England and Wales and was "subject to testing by the HOSDB (Home Office scientific development branch)".

The Home Office stressed there was no wrongdoing on the part of police, who have the authority to use any weapon they see fit "as long as the use of force is lawful, reasonable and proportionate".

A spokesman said: "The process for approval of less lethal weapons is set out in a Home Office code of practice document on police use of firearms which chief constables must 'have regard to'."

The move means Pro-Tect Systems – the only supplier of Tasers in the UK – will no longer be allowed to import and sell Tasers. A company spokesperson said it could not comment while the IPCC investigation was going on.

But Moat's brother, Angus, has accused officers of using his brother as a "guinea pig". "They had not used them [XRep Tasers] before, and that was not the time or the place to conduct an experiment," he said.

The 40-year-old, of Shieldfield, in Newcastle – who is waiting for the results of a second post-mortem examination on his brother – added: "We have said all along we have concerns about the sequence of events that night.

"I am cautiously reassured by the Home Office that there is a legal dimension to this."

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