One Year On & What Has Happened to Jim McCormick?

It has been one year since the BBC Newsnight broadcast and the arrest of Jim McCormick on the grounds of fraud. Tonight the BBC plans to broadcast a follow-up to this story. As I write, I am under embargo not to post this in advance of the broadcast as it is not clear whether the Government will step in to prevent the BBC revealing two explosive discoveries in tonight’s broadcast.

Mexican soldier using the ADE651 in the war against drugs

For those of you who don’t know, last year I assisted the BBC in their exposé of the woo bomb detectors that were nothing more than dowsing rods. They were being used at checkpoints in Iraq, and as a consequence, indirectly responsible for the wave of suicide bombings that claimed hundreds of lives. A police investigation was underway and the head of the British Company ATSC Ltd who I had been corresponding with through my blog was arrested on suspected fraud.

You might be asking why the case against Jim McCormick appears to have gone cold. It turns out that between 2001-2004, the UK Department for Trade and Industry not only knew all about ATSC Ltd and the ADE651, but had also assisted in the sale of these bogus devices to the Mexican Government. Oh dear, that’s pretty shameful. No wonder they don’t want this to come out in court.

The second alarming  discovery is that after the arrest of Jim McCormick, further sales of the ADE651 have continued. Apparently, the devices have even ended up in use in Afghanistan. The British Government’s attitude is that other countries are producing similar devices so it is not in their interest to prevent the sale to markets just so long as British civilians are not at risk. How cynical can you get? It’s a bloody disgrace in more ways than one.

You simply could not make this stuff up. The sheer audacity of these guys beggars belief. I must confess I have lost patience with the authorities. You can do as much jumping up and down, stamping your feet and screaming “It’s just a car ariel” and yet they do nothing to stop this outrageous business.

Here is press release put out by my contacts at the BBC



The government has today admitted that the army and UK civil servants helped market so-called bomb detectors, which didn’t work, around the world.

The export of the “magic wand” detectors to Iraq and Afghanistan was banned on January 27 2010 because of the threat they posed to British and allied troops, after a BBC Newsnight investigation showed that they were incapable of detecting explosives or anything else.  Now Newsnight has learned that they are still being sold around the globe.

At least four rival manufacturers have sold their own versions of these devices and they are now the subject of a major fraud investigation by the City of London police.  One of the makers, ATSC, sold thousands of the so-called detectors, which essentially consist of a radio aerial on a hinge attached to a plastic handle, to Iraq for $85 million.

It has been alleged that hundreds of Iraqis died in explosions in Baghdad after their ADE651 detectors failed to detect suicide bombers at checkpoints. ATSC’s boss Jim McCormick is currently on bail after being arrested on suspicion of fraud in connection with the so-called detectors.

The profit margins are enormous.  The manufacturer of another of the devices, the Alpha 6,  has admitted to Newsnight that they make them for £11 and then they are sold for £15,000 each to the end user.

The Government today told BBC Newsnight that between 2001 and 2005 a Royal Engineers sales team went around the world demonstrating the GT200, another of the “magic wand” detectors which has been banned for export to Iraq and Afghanistan, at arms fairs around the world even though the British Army did not consider them suitable for its own use. The Department of Trade and Industry as it then was helped two of the manufacturers sell their products in Mexico and the Philippines.

Newsnight has also found that the manufacturers are still trying to market so-called bomb detectors which don’t work. Just three months after the ban on sales to Iraq and Afghanistan a product called the HEDD1, consisting of a radio aerial on a handle made in Bulgaria, was displayed at a security exhibition at Olympia in London.

The makers claimed that while all the other products which looked like it were a “massive scam” theirs was different.  The HEDD1 was marketed by a retired British Army colonel, John Wyatt, who told prospective buyers that it had “proved extremely successful in several foreign countries” including in “double blind” tests.

In reality the maker of HEDD1, Yuri Markov, had been charged in the USA in 2008 for fraudulently claiming that the previous version of his so-called bomb detector could detect explosives. The US Navy had subjected it to a double-blind test and found it “does not work”.

Asked by Caroline Hawley why he had promoted such a product Colonel Wyatt said “I would never put lives at risk on this at all – its intangible science – I wouldn’t use it in a life or death situation”.  Nevertheless in July 2010 he demonstrated the HEDD1 to the Royal Engineers at an army base in Surrey as a potential bomb detector to be used in Afghanistan to deal with IEDs.

The Royal Engineers showed the HEDD1 to explosives expert Sidney Alford of Alford Technologies who has previously helped Newsnight expose other so-called detectors. The HEDD1 totally failed to find any explosives during a double blind trial and Mr Alford’s report concluded by saying “this equipment does not detect explosives”.

Colonel Wyatt told Newsnight he would have made 3,000 euros profit on every HEDD1 he sold but that he had not sold any so far and would not do so without further testing.  Asked by Caroline Wyatt whether he had given the product’s makers an air of respectability by becoming their agent he said “If you perhaps feel that they’re gaining an edge by my involvement I’d say probably yes I’m guilty”

After the Moscow bombing on Monday there will be questions about why the ban on exports to Iraq and Afghanistan has not been extended to protect the citizens of other countries.  The Department of Business, Industry and Skills told Newsnight that there was little point: “the impact of any further UK action in preventing the supply of these devices from the UK would be limited if they are available elsewhere” NEWSNIGHT 22.30 TONIGHT BBC2




Filed under In the News

28 responses to “One Year On & What Has Happened to Jim McCormick?

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  2. Rox

    You don’t mention the electronic component of this device and its versatility. It contains some kind of “card” (possibly like a cheap camera card from Argos) which can be programmed to detect either explosives or other substances, such as drugs. This is really sophisticated, if it can work out the nature of any molecule which can explode, or any molecule which can have a pharmacological effect but is illegal. Of course, it can’t.

    I think there is rather more to this than meets the eye, and I sent an email to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme to this effect. The BBC have got explosives experts to test the devices, but this is just not in any way rocket science. You merely pack a van with a common explosive, hold the detector close to it, and note that it does not detect the explosive. So it doesn’t work. This is not compatible at all with the intricacies of deciding if a vaccine or a medicinal drug actually works and is safe.

    Wherever the detectors are sold to people with the money to buy them, in a responsible position in a country full of soldiers, it is perfectly easy and obvious for them to test them and find that they don’t work. The purchasers must know they don’t work. Maybe they get them for psychological reasons, hoping that their employees as well as the villains will believe in them.

    • You merely pack a van with a common explosive, hold the detector close to it, and note that it does not detect the explosive.

      Due to the ideomotor effect, though, it actually quite often does “detect” the explosive. Even if you are a skeptic it might still “work”, because these devices are so good at exploiting the ideomotor effect. Simply imagining it turning in a particular direction can be enough to make your muscles do what it takes to turn it in that direction.

      • Rox

        This wouldn’t be enough for most of us to say “My goodness, it does work after all”. But you are right of course, there are occasions where it would seem to work, and surely necessarily so if they are to continue getting away with this. All the tester needs to do, then, is have two vans, one with explosives and one without explosives, him not knowing which is which, and repeat this several times with the vans differently loaded (or different people operating the device might be easier). It’s still not rocket science.
        When I was a child and read tempting accounts of dousing, I simply held the correct type of stick over a bath of water, and convinced myself that it didn’t work. But if you do it outdoors and dig a hole where the stick twitches, then you probably will find some water at the bottom of the hole.

      • Right, and that’s why those prospective buyers who actually, you know, did double-blind tests (gasp!) universally didn’t buy it.

        For someone to fall for this takes two things: The first is a poor understanding of science coupled with a sort of mystical reverence for it — as if science were magic. That gets you past the implausibility part of it. The second is a misplaced faith in direct observation and eyewitness testimony. That makes you fail to insist on proper blinding, and be utterly convinced by an unblinded test.

        And when you think about it, those two criteria describe a whole heaping lot of people. It’s not flat-out stupidity; it’s science=magic combined with so-called common sense (“I saw it with my own two eyes!”).

        • bob disdell

          What part of the devices dont work do the police or cps who are dealing with bringing these people to task not understand.I was given a demo of the ADE65 some time ago and what a surprise,it didnt work.
          I despair.
          Bob Disdell
          1st July 2012

          • Anonymous

            Well, they have finally arrested him. Let’s see if anyone gets it this time. The man has been responsible for thousands of deaths.

  3. Rox

    I’m not convinced that the very obvious “detector vans” used to encourage people to pay their TV licences, with their huge and intimidating aerials, actually work, either.

  4. Techowiz

    Hi Bruce,
    I sent you a link to a test of another of the phoneys stick detectors the, HEDD1 which was featured on the newsnight programme. Further evidence these things don’t and cannot ever work. Check the link:


    • brucehood

      The thing is that there gets to a point when you are simply wasting time if the authorities are prepared to turn a blind eye or worse as in this case, actually promote bogus products. While, I understand the emphasis on testing these claims, the problem is that such testing also legitimizes the possibility that they might work. Hence, the excuses that personnel are not properly trained. Frankly, I will keep talking about these bombdetectors in public if only to keep the issue prominent but I don’t think we need to engage with the crooks anymore by pandering to the request for more tests. It is all too depressing.

      • Rox

        Exactly. They obviously couldn’t work. It is like an increasingly advertised “supplement” in the news last year which was claimed to cure 100% of leprosy cases and much much more, almost anything in fact. There was no way that such a simple compound (or anything else) could do that, and it did not merit the time and expense devoted to testing serious pharmaceuticals. I’m very happy to report that I can’t find it on the internet right now.

      • bob disdell

        I have been treated to a demo of the ADE device and can say that it does not and cannot detect explosives.
        In the demo I was present at it failed to detect explosives in a very small area.
        Also any one with any coommon sense you dont need a Phd to realise the claims are nonesense.
        Whats happening to the court cases proscecuting these individuals,there con artists and are puting lives at risk.
        6th July 2011

  5. Rox

    I need to correct this . The so-called “Miracle Mineral Supplement” was advertised as curing 100% of malaria cases, not leprosy.

  6. Anonymous

    I’m perplexed by the sheer scale of this fraud. Many countries allegedly paying many millions for something that you need to be only mildly inquisitive to deduce as being completely bogus. You don’t have to have any kind of great scientific expertise to figure it out – just a tiny amount of common sense.
    So are that many senior military chiefs and defence contractors really that stupid? And could a handful of seedy third-rate conmen like McCormick really pull of this global scam on thier own? Or are there other forces or interests at work here?
    Call me a crazed conspiracy theorist if you will but do we really know who has paid how much money for what to whom? And could anyone have a vested interest in these unruly foreign armies failing to protect their citizens?
    I’ve no idea. But this whole story (not to mention the astonishing lack of publicity that it attracts) doesn’t quite add up for me…

  7. Dubious Dick

    Hi Bruce, Just to say that glad you have revisited the subject, despite the apparent lack of action. I would say don’t lose hope. The fact that a number of senior M.P.s are asking questions is a good sign, and I reckon they can’t hide any more now the story is out in more detail.

    I should say there were times 2.5 years ago when Techo and I kicked this off here in the U.K. when I have been demoralised. E.G. When questions sent to the MOD and Select Committee back in early 2009.

    However, the fact that the stroy has become so widely reproted gives me much greater hope. And even if the UK authorities try to wriggle there must be options for foreign governments to request extradition now.

    Keep up the publicity and best wishes. DD

  8. Incredible that this level of scam still gets any credence at all. Good on you for pursuing it Bruce.

  9. From Bob Stewart MP today
    Thanks for your e mail and letting me know that these hoax devices are in use in the Phillipines. Bloody appalling. For information Patrick Mercer MP and I have taken what steps we can earlier this week to plug this stupidity. Those responsible should be investigated too.

  10. Techowiz

    It would seem that the Iraqis are going to be asking for their money back sometime soon, check the link:


  11. Rox

    ” It requires no battery or other power source, its manufacturer stating that it is powered solely by the user’s static electricity. To use the device, the operator must walk for a few moments to ‘charge’ ….”.
    What a clever idea ! This technology could be used in music-playing devices for joggers. I wonder why it never had been ?

  12. Janie Ruggles

    Novelist James Ward just published a spy mystery about this thing. It shows how some careful psychology and a lot of brass can sell such a device, even though it doesn’t work – and make the buyers think it does. It’s all in the con. Fascinating reading . Title is Bad dogs, Running. They sure are bad dogs!

  13. Bravo, Bruce! Keep this in the public’s eye as much as you can. Sooner or later this bad dog will meet a just fate. It may be that he will eventually be charged with some corollary crime, similar to the way the US feds finally got the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone; not for the hundreds he killed but for simple tax evasion. McCormick has been responsible for more deaths than Capone. It’s a pity that spineless authorities are too afraid to cast light on their own stupidity to take action. Perhaps the Iraqis should do the world a favor. If he won’t return their money, just take him out – after all they have received training in clandestined ops from both the Brits and the US.

    • brucehood

      Thanks James, I talked about it on a recent BBC radio show but they cut it -because it is still “sub judice” – shocking really. One day I will write a book about it.

  14. I did publish a book about it. It’s a spy novel that uses the scam as back story with the names changed. I see a post about it by Janie Ruggles. (Janie is a friend of mine.) I hope they sue me. Check Bad Dogs Running out at Kindle site.
    When you wirte your book I’d like to help you publish it in the U.S.

  15. Anonymous

    Hi Bruce,

    Good news, tonight McCormick has been charged with 6 counts of fraud and kept in custody.

    • brucehood

      Hi Techowiz,
      Avon & Somerset police called me but my O2 phone was down. Congratulations and bravo after all your hard work and effort

  16. Anonymous

    Hi Bruce,
    McCormick charged at last and kept in custody.
    best regards

  17. Anonymous

    Sorry Bruce duplicate post forgot I had already written to you, please delete.

  18. Peter Robinson

    More excellent news. Gary Bolton of GT200 infamy guilty!

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