More has been uncovered regarding the sale of fake bomb detectors around the world. Officials served as unofficial promoters overseas for the devices manufactured in England. They did this without doing thorough research on the devices which would have shown it was useless.
The government accepted thousands of pounds from a fraudster to assist a global trade in fake bomb detectors despite a Whitehall-wide warning that such devices were “no better than guessing” and could be deadly.
The Kent businessman Gary Bolton paid the government to enlist serving soldiers and a British ambassador in what turned out to be the fraudulent sale of bomb detectors based on novelty golf ball finders. Bolton, 48, was sentenced to seven years in jail last year for fraud after claims that use of his handheld devices cost lives and resulted in wrongful convictions.
The government accepted more than £5,000 in payments from the fraudster to supply uniformed Royal Engineers to promote the bogus kit at international trade fairs in the Middle East and Europe, and to secure the backing of Giles Paxman, the brother of the BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman and then UK ambassador to Mexico, who set up sales meetings for Bolton’s firm with senior Mexican officials engaged in the country’s bloody drugs war.
The GT200 devices cost as little as £1.82 to make but were sold for as much as £15,000. They were completely bogus devices.
It’s possible that 1,000 units were sold to Mexican authorities where they were used to decide which properties to raid for drugs or explosives. Mexico’s bloody drug war was an impetus to find technology that could give authorities an edge. Bolton enlisted a British ambassador to put in a good word and grease the skids, as it were, to get an “in” to present his devices. This story is suggestive that British diplomats and officials are available for hire, and a bit free wheeling.
This story shows how it was not the first time this has been alleged. How UK soldiers and ambassador were enlisted to help sell fake bomb detectors.
There is no evidence anyone in Whitehall ever ran a records check that would have revealed the warning about Bolton’s products before one of its senior diplomats was asked to help sell them, and that is not likely to change. “Beyond ensuring the legality of a product in the target market, there is no requirement or resource for UKTI [UK Trade & Investment] to confirm the quality, suitability or otherwise of the products that a business may be selling,” a Foreign Office spokesman said. “This responsibility lies with the end user, who should satisfy themselves of the suitability and quality of any product or service they buy.”
The help Bolton received is replicated for other companies by UK diplomatic missions across the globe. In the past year, UKTI, the government’s trade body, was paid to help UK business abroad on more than 6,000 occasions, earning £7.7m in fees under its Overseas Market Introduction Service.
We knew there were allegations of bribes but not the details.There may have been similar situations in other countries of sale. This is a detailed article about how this sort of legal promotion continues. The trade minister is unrepentant saying, sure, if they knew then what they knew now about Bolton, they would have steered clear. But also he takes NO responsibilty for such a dangerous action as promoting security tech that may be garbage. Many people were arrested due to use of the device in drug raids, it’s alleged.
“They were used to charge people with criminal offences, and it is impossible to say how many people are in jail as a result of this equipment,” said Luis Mochan, a physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who tested the device and has campaigned against its use. “It would be great if the British government acknowledged publicly that this apparatus is completely useless. Maybe they are embarrassed because how would you trust the next sale they try to make?”
Tip: Peter R.