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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June 2005, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Fingerprint battle takes new turn
Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie has thanked the officers for supporting her
The case of a former police officer at the centre of a six-year battle over a fingerprint has taken a new twist.

Three experts from the Scottish Fingerprint Service obtained a copy of the fingerprint evidence by accident.

They have concluded that the thumbprint found at a crime scene was not left by Shirley McKie, who was later sacked from her job.

The Scottish Criminal Records Office rejected any suggestion that it was not delivering "fair justice".

Miss McKie was a detective constable when Marion Ross, 51, was found murdered at her home in Kilmarnock in January 1997.

During the investigation, fingerprints were found on a door frame at the victim's home.

A report by the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) said that one of the prints belonged to Miss McKie.

SCRO rejects any suggestion that it is failing to play its part in delivering fair and effective justice
SCRO statement

During the trial of the man accused of the murder, she denied that the print was hers. She was arrested later and charged with perjury but was acquitted after a trial in 1999.

She and her father Ian, a retired police officer, have campaigned to clear her name and have taken legal action against Scottish ministers, who are responsible for the Scottish Criminal Records Office.

The then Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, apologised but she has not received compensation for losing her job and the Criminal Records Office has not accepted that a mistake was made.

Independent inquiry

The three Scottish Fingerprint Service experts, from Grampian Police, have sent copies of their findings to the Lord Advocate and their own chief constable.

John McGregor, John Dingwall and Gary Dempster, who have 54 years' experience between them, said they were unable to remain silent on an issue which was of "extreme importance" to the future of the profession in Scotland.

Their report stated: "We are satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the mark disclosed on the crime scene photograph was not made by the left thumb of Shirley McKie."

They said that an independent inquiry should be undertaken by experts from outside the UK.

Ms McKie thanked them for speaking out on her behalf and said: "I would like to thank everybody for taking an interest and continuing to take an interest in this."

Doubt has been cast on the work of the SCRO

A statement from the Scottish Criminal Records Office said legal proceedings involving the McKies were ongoing and it was inappropriate to comment further.

It went on: "However, SCRO rejects any suggestion that it is failing to play its part in delivering fair and effective justice.

"We believe that the organisation continues to provide an effective and professional fingerprint service.

"It has been subject to a detailed and rigorous review - and subsequent follow-up - by the independent police inspectorate and found to be both efficient and effective. "

Ms McKie and her father have produced experts from the US who have discredited the Scottish Criminal Records Office's findings.

The McKies have also been supported by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish National Party MSP Fergus Ewing called the saga a "blot on the reputation of parliament" and called on Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to look at the case.

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