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Taser deal 'wasn't rushed' Home Office boss denies shotgun marriage' claim.

Byline: Tom Mullen

HOME Office bosses yesterday denied a "shotgun marriage" had been used to get a firm place to avoid Taser shortages. The claims were made by MPs after emerged staff from the firm which its licence for supplying weapons used in a police stand-off with Raoul Moat would work for the new company set up as its replacement. Pro-Tect Systems will be replaced Tactical Safety Responses (TSR), based in the same area and using some of the same staff as its Northampton-based predecessor, a Commons Home Affairs Select Committee meeting was told.

Addressing the meeting, Home Office official Graham Widdecombe denied suggestions the arrangement had been to get a firm in place quickly in an effort to avoid a shortage of Taser weapons and cartridges.

Mr Widdecombe agreed the Home Office had withdrawn authorisation Pro-Tect, then granted a new licence to another company based in same area with some of the same employees of the previous firm that been struck off.

And when asked by committee chairman Keith Vaz if he thought was acceptable, Mr Widdecombe replied: "It's something we had to into very, very carefully and it's something we did lightly." He went on: "We did seek assurances that the principles of Tect wouldn't be involved in any in the setting up of the new "We're adding additional conditions alone cannot do something simir." The meeting heard Pro-Tect broke licence when its late director of operations and former police officer Peter Boatman decided to take the Tasers to police involved in the Moat manhunt, even though the weapons were still under testing by Government scientists.

The stun-guns were allegedly fired the moments before Moat, 37, shot himself in Rothbury, Northumberland, in July, following one of Britain's biggest manhunts.

Police had surrounded the former bouncer who was on the run after shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, killing her partner Chris Brown and shooting and blinding North East PC David Rathband.

Following an inquiry, Northamptonshire Police later said it would not in the public interest to take any further action against the company.

An inquest into Moat's death, due be held at a date yet to be confirmed, is expected to examine the issue in detail.

Asked by committee member Steve McCabe why a completely different company was not chosen for a fresh start and a clean slate to avoid impression "that everything was bit cosy and collusive", Mr Widdecombe said no other UK firm had a business relationship with suppliers Taser International.

Mr McCabe added that with Taser International and now TSR both being monopoly suppliers, "the one STAND-OFF Police negotiate with Raoul Moat
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2010
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