The trial of an arms dealer from near York, who was charged with helping organise the shipment of a "huge quantity" of guns and ammunition without the necessary licence, has collapsed today.
Gary Hyde, 42, of Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent, near York, has been on trial at Southwark Crown Court in London accused of having helped organise the shipment without the necessary permission from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
He denied two charges of breaching the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003 and one charge of concealing criminal property.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith discharged the jury today, telling them: "I have come to the conclusion that this case has to fail in law, on the particular facts of this case."
He said it was to do with the framing of the order concerned, which had been replaced in 2009.
The defence had said that Hyde was not somebody who sticks "two fingers up" at the regulations.
His lawyer Stephen Solley QC told the court last week that it "simply could not be further from the truth" to describe Hyde as somebody who had deliberately broken the law over the shipment of thousands of firearms and ammunition from China to Nigeria.
He added that Hyde had no criminal record and served for seven years as a special constable.
The court heard that the shipment in 2007 was made up of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles and 10,000 9mm pistols along with 32 million rounds of ammunition.
The judge said he suspected that the order had been replaced in 2009 because its wording "could have been more happily phrased".
He went on to explain that there were errors between supplementary guidance to the legislation, which Hyde knew about, and the legislation itself.
The judge said: "A properly directed jury could not be satisfied that he intended to evade that particular prohibition."
The case was adjourned until 2pm tomorrow for the prosecution to consider whether to appeal against the judge's ruling.
Any such appeal would go to the Court of Appeal, the judge said, for consideration of whether he had been correct in his decision. If the Court of Appeal disagreed with the judge, there might be a re-trial.
If there is no appeal, Hyde will be acquitted of the charges.