A "deadly" gun offered to a Daily Mail reporter has been described as a harmless toy by a leading firearms expert.
In a story headlined "Just two hours to buy a deadly weapon", reporter Christian Gysin wrote how he and Mail photographer Jamie Wiseman were offered an automatic pistol with ammunition for £1,500 in a south London flat, after several phone calls, a "cloakand- dagger meeting" and a tip-off from an anonymous source.
According to the story, Gysin and Wiseman were then driven to a flat where the offer was made. The story said the gun, which was pictured, bore all the markings of a Beretta model 1911-A1 9mm pistol, a gun used extensively in the US army. Gysin said the story showed "how easy it is to buy or rent a gun on Britain's streets".
But David Dyson, a firearms lawyer quoted in the Mail story, told Press Gazette the gun was a fake.
"That gun is a toy," he said. "It's rubbish.
I told them that it wasn't [real], but that wasn't what they wanted to hear. They said, ‘surely some of them could be converted', and I said, ‘yes, some of them — but not that one'."
Dyson was one of three experts contacted by the Mail to verify the gun's authenticity from a photograph and is quoted in the story as saying: "Many of these types of weapons can be made to fire live rounds", but Dyson said he made it clear to the Mail reporter that the gun pictured, and the three bullets, were both fake and harmless.
"You can get some replica guns that really look the part and there are certain types that some people would have great difficulty saying whether it's real or not. But not this one," he said.
Daily Mail managing editor Charles Garside said: "Because of gun laws our reporter couldn't touch the gun, lift it or show that he had any intent to try and purchase [it]. He was quite convinced it was a real one… he had no reason to believe this gun could not [be fired].
"I should imagine none of us would like to look that in the barrel and find out whether it was real or not."