The company which supplied the Tasers used by police in the stand-off with gunman Raoul Moat has had its licence revoked, the British Home Office said today.
Home Secretary Theresa May revoked Pro-Tect Systems’ licence to supply the weapons after it “breached its licence by supplying X12 Tasers direct to police that were only available for supply to the Home Office Science and Development branch”.
The firm also “breached rules governing the secure transport of the devices and ammunition”, the Home Office said.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: ``Inquiries following the Raoul Moat operation revealed Pro-Tect breached its licence by supplying X12 Tasers direct to police that were only available for supply to the Home Office Science and Development branch.
“The inquiries carried out by Northamptonshire Police also revealed the company breached rules governing the secure transport of the devices and ammunition.
“Faced with these breaches, the Home Secretary has decided to revoke Pro-Tect’s licence to supply Tasers.”
The X12 Taser guns use XRep ammunition and were referred to as XRep Tasers at the opening of the inquest into Moat’s death.
The move means Pro-Tect Systems, the only supplier of Tasers in the UK, will no longer be allowed to import and sell Tasers.
In a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said a short-term authority has been granted to allow the firm to dispose of its remaining stock.
He added: “You will wish to know that we are working with Acpo (Association of Chief Police Officers) to ensure that police forces continue to have adequate Taser stocks to cover any transition period that may follow from Taser International identifying a new UK supplier.”
Mr Brokenshire said he could not provide any further details due to ongoing investigations and “the possibility of charges being laid against the company”.
But the Home Secretary was “satisfied that the company supplied X12 Tasers and XRep ammunition to Northumbria Police and to another police force contrary to their authority”, he wrote.
“In considering what action to take, the Home Secretary has taken into account the representations made by the company’s solicitors on their behalf but in view of the serious nature of the breaches has decided not to renew the company’s current authorities.”
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.
The firm’s breach of the licence, first reported by Sky News, stems from the company supplying the Tasers directly to police forces, when it was only licensed to supply them to the Home Office for testing.
Armed police fired two Tasers at Moat 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 with the steroid-addicted former nightclub doorman brought to an end one of the biggest manhunts in British history, triggered when Moat shot his former girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart, 22, killed her new boyfriend, 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.
Earlier today, 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.