Further memorandum from Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas has covered issues relating to the
defence industry in the New Statesman magazine and Channel 4 television.
He has received various awards for his work including from The
United Nations International Services Association and a commendation
from Amnesty International. He was a co-founder and director of
the Ilisu Dam Campaign.
Since November 2004 Mark has investigated torture
equipment in the press. During that time he has reported on five
companies (in under a year) that have offered electro shock equipment
from the UK.
This despite a ban on the sale of leg irons
and electro shock weapons from the UK, (though they remain licensable).
Article 3 of the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003, "which
came into force on 1 May 2004, a person may not, without having
obtained a licence issued on behalf of the Secretary of State
for Trade and Industry, directly or indirectly supply or deliver;
agree to supply or deliver, or; do any act calculated to promote
the supply or delivery, of "restricted goods", where
that person has reason to believe his actions may result in the
goods being supplied from one third country to another third country
(extraterritorial controls)these controls apply whether
or not the act calculated to promote their trade is in return
for a fee or consideration. Restricted goods include electric
shock batons and leg irons, which are specifically controlled
under PL5001g of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods, Transfer of
Technology and Provision of Technical Assistance (Control) Order
2003."DTI Press Office 2005.
It is understood that the definition of "any
act calculated to promote the supply and delivery, of "restricted
goods" would include any advertising of restricted goods.
This report examines these cases, details how
they were uncovered and suggests effective steps, which might
be taken to enforce the law. If these most obvious breaches are
not picked up and enforced properly it raises questions about
all controlled and restricted goods.
All case studies are supported with back up
TLT International, a UK company, offered to
broker electro shock batons from Korea to Zimbabwe and revealed
they were negotiating to supply electro shock weapons to Nigeria.
TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd, an Israeli company,
offered electro shock weapons and leg irons whilst exhibiting
at the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) fair
in September 2005.
Global Armour, a South African company offered
electro shock weapons in their company brochure at the same event.
Imperial Armour, a South African company offered
to provide stun weapons and set about negotiating a deal from
Army-Technology.com, a website run by SPG Media
a UK company, offered introductions to Chinese and Korean arms
manufacturers who advertised their stun batons through the Army
Tech website in the UK.
[Photograph offered by Imperial Armour: not
Case Study OneTLT International
In November 2004 the website of UK company TLT
International offered stun batons and stun guns for sale. The
company is based at the home address of its MD Mr Tony Lee.
The website included pictures and a short description
of the weapons.
Posing as a potential buyer I enquired via the
website if I could be put in contact with someone regarding the
potential purchase of stun batons. Mr Lee replied on the 1 of
December indicating I should deal with him.
On the 2 December 2004 Mr Lee quoted a price
for the weapons.
Mr Lee's Quote 2 December 2004
"I thank you for your above referenced enquiry
and have pleasure in submitting our offer as follows:
Stun Baton 18" w/ring belt clip. 300KV
Power Source: Two 9 Volt Alkaline Battery or
N.c. Rechargeable Battery
Power Emit: 300,000 Volt Output
Electrodes Distance: 20mm
Packing : Per Unit in a carton box. 30 pcs G.W
Price term: Fob S.Korea US$29.10 each Q'ty 500
Total Fob S.Korea US$14,550.00
Delivery: within two weeks after receipt of payment
Payment terms: T/T advanced (sic) 30% with order
the balance just before shipment
I would very much like to secure your order.
Should, you have any questions regarding price, delivery or anything
else please do not hesiate (sic) to contact me.
On 3 December I told Mr Lee the final destination
was Zimbabwe, Mr Lee said this was "no problem", explaining
that the stun batons would be transported from Korea and would
be manufactured by Hanseung Electronics Inc.
On the 6 December Mr Lee confided that he had
given a sole sale agreement to a company in Nigeria and that he
was hoping to get a big order in from Nigeria soon. He later revealed
that he had travelled with Nigerian senators to Korea to visit
the factory in May and June of 2004.
He further stated that this make of stun baton
had been sold to USA, France, Japan, Egypt, the Philippines, Indonesia,
Thailand and Vietnam.
Mr Lee provided promotional material and provided
a personal bank account number in Korea into which I was to pay
the money for the deal.
He explained the money was to be paid into a
personal bank account in Korea and the contracts would be done
directly with the Korean company. He later claimed that he did
not know that by offering to broker stun weapons his actions could
fall within the scope of the UK law.
All e-mail correspondence and transcripts of
phone conversations were handed to HMRC in April 2005. HMRC asked
the author if he could prepare a list of people present at the
phone recordings and meetings with Mr Lee and whether I would
be willing to give evidence if the matter came to court. I have
had no contact with HMRC on this matter since then.
Mr Lee has since changed the name of the company
to ITNCON Ltd.
Case Study Two
I gained legitimate access to the DSEI arms
fair 2005 and was issued with a media pass for the event.
1. TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd
TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd of Ma'avar Yabok St,
Tel-Aviv Israel. A check of the company website prior to their
exhibiting at DSEI showed that they sold electro shock weapons.
Stun gun offered by TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd
from their website.
On visiting the DSEI arms fair on the 14 September
2005 the author picked up various publicly displayed and available
brochures from the company stall.
The company literature includes pictures, descriptions
and model numbers for a stun gun, stun baton and leg cuffs. Stun
batons were offered in two other of the company's glossy A4 brochures
The author was accompanied by a "minder"/escort
provided by the DSEI fair organizers. The author showed the brochure
to the escort and explained that the electro shock batons were
illegal. The escort (a former officer in the army and MD of a
PR company working for the fair) took a brochure and said he would
report this to the fair organisers who would take the appropriate
action. This does not appear to have occurred as 24 hours later
the company was still distributing the brochures.
The author phoned the TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd
representative at DSEI, Mr Michael Simon (international marketing)
who offered to discuss selling the batons at the fair the next
day (16 September) and offered the author a CD ROM demonstrating
the new range of liquid spray electro shock weapons, The Viper,
on the 15 September 2005.
I informed HMRC on 15 September that electro
shock weapons were being offered at the stall and informed the
Guardian newspaper, which ran the story the following day.
According to the DSEI organisers PR contact,
TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd was excluded from the DSEI fair on the
Friday morning, 16 September.
TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd have subsequently claimed
that the DSEI organisers had seen and approved of their brochures.
2. Imperial Armour
Imperial Armour Pty Ltd , PO box 29231 Maytime,
3624, Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. The company's website
showed they dealt in stun weapons.
Prior to the DSEI I posed as a client and asked
for a quote for electro shock batons. The company provided prices
and specifications on the 12 September 2005.
Although Imperial Armour did not advertise stun
weapons in their brochures at DSEI, in e-mails and phone conversations
they expressed a willingness to meet at DSEI and discuss the potential
purchase. So even when restricted items were not on public display
at the UK arms fair, DSEI, restricted weapons were still available
"under the counter."
3. Global Armour
Global Armour SA (Pty) Ltd , PO Box 10605, Ashwood,
3605, KZN, South Africa. Global Armour offered stun weapons in
their brochure, describing them as: "Shock activated by self-return
trigger. High voltage, but non-lethal. Visible shock sparks act
as added deterrent. Supplied with plug-in charging facility. Rechargeable
battery and plug in charger available as an option. Available
in three different lengths: 410 mm (16.1 in), 575 mm (22.6 in),
700 mm (27.6 in)."
According to the DSEI PR staff the Global Armour
stall was shut down and they were excluded from the fair on Friday
morning, 16 September.
Case Study Three
Army Technology. Again exhibited at the DSEI
arms fair and gave demonstrations of how to use the search facilities
on their website.
www.army-technology.com is a website owned by
SPG Media Group PLCa UK based company. The website hosts
advertising for defence manufacturers, including the Chinese company
Huajin. The Huajin adverts included stun batons. If someone browsing
the Army Tech site wishes to contact a company advertised on the
site, an on line enquiry form is provided by Army Tech. The enquiry
is sent via Army Tech, (SPG Media staff at DSEI informed the author
that SPG Media staff vet all enquiries) who then forward the enquiry
on to the relevant company. The author made an enquiry via Army
Tech to Huajin regarding stun batons. The Army Tech website mailed
confirmation that the request had been forwarded on 2 September.
Huajin then contacted the author directly enquiring into the availability
of various types of stun batons required.
The company was again contacted via Germany
(using the nom de guerre of Malcolm Wicks) with an enquiry about
stun batons. Again this message to the Chinese company Huajin
was forwarded by Army Tech. The Minister Malcolm Wicks was informed
that his namesake had made enquiries via a UK website for electro
When Army Tech's links to Huajin and stun batons
was drawn to the DTI's attention, their press office said "advertising
activities in the UK (or by UK Nationals anywhere in the world)
that promote the movement of restricted goods where the person
doing that act has reason to believe his actions may result in
the removal of those restricted goods from one third country to
another third country would require a UK trade licence."
It is understood that the DTI contacted HMRC regarding the site.
Army Tech took down the pictures of the stun
batons on the Huajin advert on or around the 31 October 2005.
The company admitted that the pictures had been taken down after
HMRC had made contact with them and advised them of the law.
It should also be noted that a licence would
be required for any supply of controlled goods that has taken
place, from one third country to another third country, that originated
from the Army Tech website, in their role as advertiser and intermediary.
1. In most cases the companies claimed to
be unaware of the law. This could in part be due to companies
like TLT International not operating as police and security equipment
specialists but as a "general store". However, a company
like SPG Media is firmly based in the defence industry, exhibiting
at DSEI and specifically acting as a directory for arms companies.
An assessment into the effectiveness of the DTI and its partners
outreach programmes is required. In the specific case of SPG Media
it would seem appropriate that an investigation into the company's
role in establishing contacts between third country buyers and
sellers of controlled goods be undertaken.
2. Though it is understood that the organisers
of DSEI do inform exhibitors of their obligations under the law,
information is either being ignored or ineffective. An examination
of the measures taken by Spearhead (the organisers of DSEI) to
inform exhibitors of the law and ways of improving these measures
would seem appropriate.
3. There were efforts made at DSEI to ensure
that exhibitors of Unmanned Airbourne Vehicles (UAV's), also restricted
goods, had the licences required by law to exhibit. This effort
does not appear to have been made in relation to electro shock
or leg irons. Present at the DSEI arms fair were, DTI staff, an
on site duty officer from HMRC, MoD staff and police officers,
it is worth noting that none of these people found electro shock
weapons being offered (at least not until they were informed of
the presence of companies offering the weapons by the author).
If the law is to be enforced effectively some form of pro active
policing of the event needs to take place, it would appear that
the relevant authority would be HMRC, who should address the apparent
lack of enforcement at the event as a matter of urgency.
4. It is important to establish what action
HMRC and the DSEI organisers took regarding the two companies
excluded from DSEI. It is recommended that the QSC [Quadripartite
Select Committee] establish what measures have and are being taken
by HMRC and DSEI in relation to the companies Tar Ideal Concepts
Ltd, Global Armour and Imperial Armour.
5. The initial information that prompted
investigating all of the case study examples was publicly available
information. It does not appear in these cases that HMRC made
even the most basic enquiries. It is my understanding that the
restrictions and prohibitions unit, whose work covers everything
from child pornography to electro shock, has a full time staff
of six. Though it is also understood that there is a pool of officers
around the country who can be called on to assist in investigations.
These officers however, do not work in this area full time. It
is vitally important for the QSC to ascertain what monitoring
of the defence industry takes place by HMRC, including the monitoring
of arms fairs like DSEI. The QSC should assess the staffing levels
and budgets of HMRC working on restricted and controlled goods
as a matter of urgency.
6. It is recommended that the QSC establish
what action HMRC took in regard to SPG Media. Further to that
HMRC should investigate any deals which have occurred as a result
of the advertising for both restricted and controlled goods. It
is also recommended the QSC establish the status of any investigation
being made into TLT International and to ascertain what actions
have or could be taken in this case. It is neither an effective
nor appropriate way to enforce the law by either ignoring or "ticking
off" those who transgress it. This appears to be the only
courses of action that HMRC has taken to date on this matter.
7. The most effective forms of arms
controls have to be developed with the EU, to that end the QSC
should establish what efforts are being made by HMG to see all
EU Member States comply with the EU Council Common Position 2003
requiring all Member States to introduce brokerage legislation.
The QSC should also establish from HMG what efforts are being
made to support and encourage the introduction of the EU Council
Regulation regarding the export of torture equipment across the