NORTH Yorkshire Police has defended its role in a decision to allow York gun dealer Gary Hyde to continue storing and supplying prohibited weapons in the UK, even though he was under investigation over an illegal gun shipment.

Hyde, 43, of Mask Lane, Newton-on-Derwent, was jailed for seven years last month over the shipment of thousands of AK47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria, breaching UK trade controls.

A BBC Radio 4 investigation has reported that, although he came under investigation over the deal in 2007, he was able to continue selling weapons and ammunition to police and the MoD.

It said the vetting for his section 5 licence, which enabled him to store and supply prohibited weapons in the UK, was done by North Yorkshire Police on behalf of the Government.

Dave Coutts, head of firearms licensing at North Yorkshire Police, said the Home Office issued section 5 licences.

“If one is granted, the local police force is then under obligation to issue a Registered Firearms Dealer licence if one is not already in force,” he said.

“We are satisfied that there was no risk to members of the public through the period of the investigation and trial.”