There has been some good news today: it looks as if Gary Bolton and the rest of the UK Magic Bomb Wand Gang might finally be taken down. Police staged raids on three companies, targeting Global Technical, Grosvenor, and Scandec. Combined with the arrest in January of ATSC’s MD, that amounts to most of the UK’s magic bomb wand market [Edit: But ComsTrac, maker of the Alpha 6, is still out there!]:
Police have raided three companies suspected of selling ineffective hand-held explosives detectors to overseas markets, in a case that raises questions about whether Britain has done all it can to curb the much-criticised trade.
City of London police on Tuesday said they raided five properties and planned to interview a number of individuals as part of an expanding investigation into the sale of the devices, which critics say have endangered lives in Iraq and other countries.
The police action comes after Britain in January introduced a ban on the export of the devices, but applied it only to Iraq and Afghanistan because it said it lacked the power to extend it to countries in which UK and allied forces were not engaged.
The police said they executed five search warrants at premises in Kent, Devon and Nottingham linked to the companies Grosvenor Scientific, Scandec Inc and Global Technical, seizing a large amount of cash and several hundred detection devices and their component parts. A number of people were due to be questioned under caution on suspicion of fraud by false representation and other matters, the police said, adding that they were also investigating whether bribes had been paid to procurement agents in countries in which the probes had been sold.
Thank god. Good work, Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, but a part of me can’t help but sadly wonder why it took you so long. The OACU said in another article:
“Our suspicion is that they are deliberately manufactured in the knowledge that they don’t work,” Det Supt Cowan says. “They are being sold overseas and we suspect that corruption is in the middle of that process.”
Sorry to be snarky, but “your suspicion” is that? Y’think?
Let’s hear from another expert, as well as Gary Bolton himself, on what exactly those bomb detectors he’s manufacturing are made of:
Explosives expert Sidney Alford took apart the “black box” of the GT200, which is supposed to receive signals from the detection cards.
He was surprised at what he found.
“Speaking as a professional, I would say that is an empty plastic case,” he told us.
Mr Alford also took apart a “detection card” and found there was nothing in it other than card and paper.
Gary Bolton from Global Technical told the BBC that the lack of electronic parts “does not mean it does not operate to the specification”.
It’s pretty safe to infer what Mr. Bolton’s mens rea was here, and it ain’t just willful ignorance.
As for the allegation that there is some serious government corruption going on to explain why so many foreign states have actually bought these useless devices, it’s been pretty obvious from the start that that’s what has been going on.
It looks as if maybe the private sector in Britain has finally realized, too, that the activities of Jim McCormick and Gary Bolton aren’t just a threat to foreign states, but could very much be a danger to Britain’s security and defense industry as a whole:
ADS, the trade association for the UK aerospace and defence industry, said it was “very concerned” that the “isolated case” could cause “unjustified damage to the UK’s hard-earned global reputation as a reliable supplier of world-class and effective products”.
It said: “This one regrettable case should be balanced against the enormous number of positive contributions that our industry has made to our armed forces and to security around the world.”
But this ain’t over yet. When it comes to Global Technical and ATSC, the mere occurrence of a police raid is not enough to ensure that they will be stopped for good.
If you are reading this and from the UK, do me a favor and contact your representative and tell them you want to see follow-through on the prosecution of the fake bomb detector crew. Keep up the political pressure. The ADE-651, GT200, and other devices should be banned from export to ALL countries, not just to Iraq and Afghanistan. As an initial matter, banning the export of dangerous devices solely to countries where British troops might be is pretty sick. But also, it’s completely ineffective. These bomb wand companies have foreign distributors all over the place, and it is no trouble for them to route the “bomb detectors” to Iraq or Afghanistan through other pathways.
Back in January, the British police arrested Jim McCormick, and I thought then that there would finally be a stop to this madness. But they let him out on bail, and Jimbo went right back to business as usual, opening up a new and improved version of the ATSC, Ltd. website, just as ready to sell fake bomb detectors as he was before. Despite the arrest, nothing happened, except ATSC got a new distribution network set up in Romania.
And now, in response to the raids earlier today, a UK agency has this to say, to excuse its complete failure over the past decade at stopping the fraudulent bomb detectors:
The Department for Business defended its earlier decision to impose only a geographically limited export ban on the ADE-651 and similar devices, describing the response as “proportional and appropriate at the time”. It added that it had notified other governments about its concerns.
What a load of self-serving rubbish. The Department of Business allowed the snake oil merchants to carry on with their activities, and by doing so, contributed to further death and injury around the world. There is absolutely no reason why the UK’s response should be more forceful now than it was in January — other than a couple dozen more deaths in developing countries around the world, there has not been any change of circumstances that would justify putting more extensive bans in place now that wouldn’t have justified putting the bans in place then.
For that matter, in case anyone in the United Nations Procurement Department is reading this, there’s a lesson here for you as well: get off your butts and take Global Technical off your vendor list! For gods sake, Global Technical has a shiny “UNITED NATIONS REGISTERED” icon on its page. That might carry a lot of weight with potential customers who check out the GT200’s webpage and see that. It needs to go, now — there’s no excuse for why they slipped onto your supplier list in the first place, but it’s time to fix the mistake.