The company that supplied the Taser guns used by police in the stand-off with gunman Raoul Moat breached its licence, sources confirmed today.
Britain's Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire will write to the Home Affairs Select Committee saying the firm, Pro-Tect Systems, was not licensed to supply the XRep Taser guns to police.
But there was no suggestion that any blame should be attached to the officers involved and the Home Office has stressed that police could use any weapon they saw fit as long as its use was “lawful, reasonable and proportionate”.
The XRep Taser, which is fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, was being tested by the Home Office before being approved for use by police forces in England and Wales.
Pro-Tect Systems was licensed to supply the Taser guns to the Home Office for testing, but was not licensed to supply them to police, sources said.
Armed police fired two Tasers at the steroid-addicted former nightclub doorman in an “effort to stop him taking his own life” at the Riverside park area in Rothbury, Northumberland, in the early hours of July 10, an inquest at Newcastle Civic Centre was told.
The stand-off brought to an end one of the biggest manhunts in British history, triggered when Moat shot his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, killed Chris Brown, 29, and blinded Pc David Rathband, 42.
But the precise sequence of events regarding the discharge of the XRep Tasers in relation to Moat firing his sawn-off shotgun has not been established and is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Steve Reynolds, of the IPCC, told the inquest: “The review of tactics will consider the deployment and use of the XRep Taser.”
At the time of the inquest, the Home Office confirmed the XRep Taser was not approved for use by forces in England and Wales and was “subject to testing by the HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch)”.
But the spokesman added: “Legally, police forces have discretion to use any equipment they see fit as long as the use of force is lawful, reasonable and proportionate.
“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’.”
Pro-Tect Systems said it could not comment while the IPCC investigation was going on.
But Moat’s brother Angus said officers used his brother as a “guinea pig”.
“They had not used them before, and that was not the time or the place to conduct an experiment,” he said.
“They used Raoul as a guinea pig.”
The 40-year-old tax officer, of Shieldfield, Newcastle, went on: “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.
“But it seems with regard to this entire matter that we, as the family, are always the last ones to know.”
He said the family was still waiting for the results of the second post-mortem examination.