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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Tighter controls for paternity testing
Dylan Anderson
Paternity testing is a sensitive issue
New guidelines to control companies which offer DNA paternity tests are due to be published on Monday.

The Code of Practice on Paternity Testing Services has been produced for the government after concerns were raised that "backstreet" tests were sub-standard.

This new guidance will make it more difficult for unscrupulous companies to break into this expanding industry

Yvette Cooper

Nearly 9,000 tests were carried out in Britain last year to confirm whether named men were in fact the biological fathers of children in disputed cases.

In February this year former tennis star Boris Becker admitted paternity of a child by a Russian model, Angela Ermakova, after she brought legal proceedings at the High Court in London and forced him to take a DNA test.

There is no question in that case of the tests having been performed incorrectly.

But Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper said the guidelines would mean everyone received the same standard of service for what is a very sensitive issue.

Angela Ermakova
Angela Ermakova successfully proved Becker fathered her child
She said: "Genetic paternity tests are now widely available through the internet and media and this code of practice will make sure that companies providing these tests meet certain standards.

"Paternity tests often involve young children and it is important that the welfare and best interests of the child are always taken into account."

She added that the guidelines were designed to "make it more difficult for unscrupulous companies to break into this expanding industry".

Greater demand

The public, who are demanding more private tests every year, are being advised only to use firms which are implementing the new guidelines.

Paternity testing using DNA is a well-established scientific procedure which can identify relationships between people.

Most paternity testing uses blood samples, obtained by a doctor.

It is now also possible to use samples such as mouth swabs or finger prick blood spots, potentially without the person being tested knowing that a sample has been taken.

The new legislation comes into force on 2 April and will mean all paternity tests ordered by a court must adhere to the new code of practice.

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See also:

29 Aug 00 | Health
Online paternity test
07 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Paid paternity leave on the cards
07 Feb 01 | Europe
Becker admits paternity
18 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Paternity leave plans confirmed
15 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Jagger testifies in paternity case
16 May 00 | UK Politics
Cherie Booth argues for paternity leave
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