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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Call to close fingerprint bureau
Shirley McKie and Iain McKie
A Holyrood committee is investigating the McKie case
An MSP has called for the Scottish Criminal Records Office's fingerprints bureau in Glasgow to be closed.

The SNP's Alex Neil said it could no longer be trusted after an independent expert said a print in a criminal case was wrongly identified in February.

At least one of the officers making the identification was also involved in the controversial Shirley McKie case.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Alan Bayle said the case of the February print was an obvious misidentification.

'Not identical'

Mr Bayle told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland programme that the SCRO in Glasgow was becoming a "byword for incompetence".

He said: "I was approached by the solicitor dealing with this particular case and he showed me a palm mark and a copy of the accused.

"When you first look at it you think all the lines are in the right place but when you actually look at doing the comparison it is nothing like it and it is very serious.

"It only took me a couple of minutes to see it is not identical."

The prosecution in that case has now been by dropped by the procurator fiscal for reasons other than fingerprint evidence.

Alan Bayle said the February print was an obvious misidentification
Alan Bayle said the February print was an obvious misidentification

Holyrood's Justice 1 Committee is carrying out a parliamentary inquiry into the Shirley McKie case.

Ms McKie, a former Strathclyde Police officer, was accused of leaving her fingerprint at the home of Kilmarnock murder victim Marion Ross in 1997.

She always denied the print was hers and was later cleared of perjury.

Earlier this year the Scottish Executive paid Ms McKie, from Troon in Ayrshire, an out-of-court settlement of 750,000 in compensation.

Ministers said that "an honest mistake" had been made in identifying Ms McKie's fingerprint at the murder scene.

'Final straw'

The latest inquiry is intended to restore confidence in the fingerprint service.

Mr Neil said the February case highlighted by Mr Bayle was the "final straw" for the SCRO, as it followed reforms which were supposed to put right the problems identified by the McKie case.

He said: "We have now realised this week that there was a misidentification in 2000, another one in the Mark Sinclair case in 2004 and now in February of this year.

"So quite frankly I don't think there is anything else other than to close down the Glasgow bureau and handover their work to the other bureaux in Scotland, because anything coming out of the Glasgow bureau now cannot carry any credibility."


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
See why Alex Neil wants the bureau closed



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