Jim McCormick of ATSC Ltd has been arrested for selling useless bomb detector equipment to the Iraqi government and the devices will be banned from export to Iraq and Afghanistan. The detector, ADE 651 produced by ATSC (UK) Ltd, is a hand held ‘remote portable substance detector’ that is claimed to be able to detect certain substances up to 1 Km away using a technique the company call ‘Electrostatic Magnetic Attraction’.

The ADE 651 is a plastic handle with a swivelling antenna mounted on a spring sticking out of it.

The device has no battery or other power source. It is powered by the ‘user’s own static electricity. They have to walk about a bit holding it to ‘charge it up’.

The user can then insert a ‘substance specific’ programme card into the device so that the device can then locate that substance. The ‘substances’ it can allegedly detect are: people, explosives, guns, drugs, ivory, money and ammunition up to 1 Km away but from an aeroplane at up to 5 km away.

Once ‘programmed’ the user then holds the detector parallel to the body and walks around some more and the antenna will supposedly swivel to point at the substance they wish to find.

These things were sold to the Iraqi government for up to £45,000 apiece! A very expensive dousing rod indeed! Especially as they were on sale in other places at a relative snip of about £15,000.

Lord Mandelson has now asked the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ban the sale of these useless items to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Serious questions have been raised over these devices for several months now. Reports in Nov in the Times, in the New York Times as well as websites like gizmodo.com all criticise the device harshly. James Randi, a professional magician from America, has even offered Mr McCormick $1 million if he can prove they work. So why has this taken so long to address and why no worldwide ban?

Mr McCormick, a 53 year old ex-policeman, is reported to have said in response to these criticisms "We have been dealing with doubters for 10 years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights." Well that’s OK then.

Reliance on the ADE 651 has probably cost many lives. In my opinion this device was not a wonderful device designed to detect all types of contraband, it was merely designed to fleece the gullible. At least the ATSC Ltd web-site is ‘under repair’ (more like locked).

Now, where did the crime take place, In the UK or in Iraq? So where should Mr McCormick and anyone else involved in this scam be held to account?

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