Burnley solicitor’s key role in Raoul Moat death probe

Paul Mayson. A091111/3
Paul Mayson. A091111/3

SOLICITOR Paul Mayson will remember the circumstances surrounding the death of crazed gunman Raoul Moat for years to come.

He represented the firm that supplied the Taser police used on Moat before he killed himself.

The lengthy inquest found the stun from the Taser could not be blamed for Moat’s suicide, after claims the shock caused him to pull the trigger and fatally shoot himself. Although, the weapon itself had not been approved by the Home Office.

The supplier, Pro-Tect Systems Ltd, called on the expertise of commercial litigation specialist Mr Mayson after its licence to supply Taser firearms with withdrawn. It led the Burnley solicitor to an appearance before the Home Office Select Committee at Westminster and to him representing the firm at the four-week inquest.

Mr Mayson said: “The manhunt for Raoul Moat represented an unprecedented event in the history of British policing and it is clear the issues arising out of this particular case may well prove of extreme relevance and significance in relation to how similar incidents are dealt with in the future.”

The jury returned a verdict of suicide on the burly ex-convict and decided there was no evidence to suggest the Taser round which hit his arm had caused him to inadvertently pull the trigger.

Moat’s shooting rampage in Newcastle happened in July last year and caused a manhunt lasting nearly seven days, unprecedented in British policing. He killed his ex-girlfriend’s new lover and shot her, and, while on the run, also shot and blinded a police officer. Moat taunted Northumbria Police in phone calls, saying they did not take him seriously. He blamed them for a business failure and for the breakdown of his love life, as he had been led to believe the new boyfriend was a police officer.

The controversial Taser was used towards the end of a six-hour stand-off after he was spotted on a river bank. The distances involved meant standard Tasers, effective over about 10ft. were not an option, but just at that time the firm had a new model with range of up to 75ft. – so it was decided that using it was the safest option to stun gun-toting Moat.

Mr Mayson said: “The issue so far as Pro-Tect were concerned was that the weapon was still under Home Office testing and had not been approved for operational use. While the Chief Police Officer of Northumbria Police could make the decision to use it (in his duty to preserve life), supplying the weapon represented a breach of the firm’s licence to supply specifically named Tasers.”

The fall-out of Moat’s death led to the Home Office withdrawing the firm’s licence. Mr Mayson liaised with the Home Office Firearms Scientific Branch on its behalf about how the Taser came to be used and represented the company at the House of Commons when it was called to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The coroner investigating Moat’s death identified the company as an interested party as it supplied the Taser which had been fired immediately before Moat shot himself.

The solicitor added: “This was a case of national significance as the inquest considered in detail the options available to police firearms officers when dealing with life-threatening incidents. The case identified that there was a gap in the options for officers to be able to effectively apprehend a dangerous and armed subject by non-lethal means over distances of more than two to four metres.”

The case has been an early landmark for Mr Mayson and his partner Suzanne Greenhalgh who only a year before had set up as Maysons Solicitors LLP in the old Halifax Building Society premises in Manchester Road.