Head of ATSC ‘bomb detector’ company arrested on suspicion of fraud
The boss of a British company that has sold million of dollars worth of “bomb detectors” to Iraq’s security forces has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.
Jim McCormick, 53, the managing director of ATSC which is based in a former dairy in Sparkford, Somerset, has been questioned by detectives from Avon and Somerset Police after a complaint that he misrepresented the devices.
In November, Mr McCormick, a former Merseyside police officer, told The Times that his devices, which consist of little more than a telescopic antenna on a molded plastic handle, are able to detect explosives in the same way as a dowsing rod finds water.
Thousands of the devices are in use at military and police check points across Baghdad where they are used to search vehicles and pedestrians for explosives. In recent months hundreds of people have died after car bombers were able to penetrate the security cordon supposed to protect the centre of the Iraqi capital.
Colin Port, the Somerset and Avon Police Chief Constable, personally ordered the investigation. A force spokesman said in a statement: “We are conducting a criminal investigation, and as part of that, a 53-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation. That man has been released on bail pending further inquiries.
“The force became aware of the existence of a piece of equipment around which there were many concerns, and in the interests of public safety, launched its investigation.
“It was reported to the Chief Constable Colin Port, through his role as the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on international development. He is chair of the International Police Assistance Board.
“Given the obvious sensitivities around this matter, the fact that an arrest has been made, and in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, we cannot discuss it any further at this time.” The Iraqi Government has spent a total of $85 million (£52.7 million) buying 1,500 of the bomb detectors from ATSC.