Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 13:36 GMT
Stun guns advertised on government website
The DTI says it has now removed the offending advert
Electric shock stun guns, which can be used as torture weapons, have been advertised on an official government website.
The Department of Trade and Industry's TradeUK website carried an advert last month from a Surrey arms dealer for electric stun guns, according to newspaper reports.
The guns are banned from being exported by the government under its ethical foreign policy as they are favoured torture weapons, said The Independent.
However a Department of Trade and Industry spokeswoman said the website, run by the Government export-promotion body British Trade International, was not censored by the government in advance.
She said it was for companies with goods to export to promote their products, and was designed to increase trade.
The spokesman said: "If British Trade International become aware of an entry which was illegal or breached rules then they would remove that entry.
"In this case the entry has already been removed."
According to The Independent the advert was placed by Nisam International of Esher.
However, the firm's managing director, Saliya Abeyeskera, told the paper: "I am not aware of this at all.
"I am a little bit surprised. We aren't selling stun guns and we haven't sold stun guns. We only sell to legitimate countries and we have to get export licences."
The Independent said the advertisement for the guns were placed on the website last month and the entry was removed on Friday.
A DTI spokeswoman later added: "This has highlighted a deficiency in the system. Steps are now being taken as a matter of urgency to make sure this will not happen again."