Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Arson DNA evidence 'unreliable'

Mel Broughton
Mel Broughton denies conspiracy to commit arson

DNA evidence in the case against a man accused of fire-bombing Oxford University is "unreliable", a forensic expert has told Oxford Crown Court.

Mel Broughton, 48, of Northampton, denies carrying out two petrol bombs at Queen's College in November 2006 and failed attacks in February 2007.

The prosecution alleges a tiny DNA sample found on an unexploded device matches Mr Broughton's DNA profile.

But Dr Alan Jamieson said testing such small samples could be "misleading".

The case centres on a tiny DNA sample found on an unexploded device at Templeton College in February 2007, and the defence case is that "Low Copy Number" DNA samples are unreliable.

Defence witness Dr Alan Jamieson told the jury that he has "long-standing and well recognised" expertise in forensic evidence.

Dr Jamieson gave evidence in the Omagh Bomb trial resulting in an acquittal, the court heard.

Dr Jamieson told the jury that tests carried out on DNA samples taken from a match, found on one of the devices, were in his opinion "a complete waste of time" and "potentially misleading".

But the prosecution barrister Mr Moore said that because Dr Jamieson was "not in a laboratory, doing day to day tests", he had "limited forensic experience".

Mr Broughton was said to be the leading figure of animal rights group Speak, which started in 2004 in protest at plans to build an animal testing research laboratory in Oxford.

He is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit arson and one count of possession of an article or articles with intent to destroy or damage property.

He denies all the charges against him.

The case continues.

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