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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 15:06 GMT
Father's fingerprint error anger
Iain and Shirley McKie
Iain McKie (left) called for a public inquiry into the "horrendous mess"
The father of the former detective wrongly accused of leaving her fingerprint at a murder scene has voiced his anger at her treatment.

Iain McKie wants a public inquiry into mistakes made in the case of his daughter Shirley.

On Tuesday, she settled a compensation claim against the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Criminal Records Office for 750,000.

Unison also called for an inquiry, but to clear its members of any wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the executive said the out-of-court settlement was payment without admission of liability.

The union, which represents police staff at the SCRO, said it believed Ms McKie's settlement was the result of "media pressure".

However Mr McKie, 66, said his daughter was the victim in the case, not fingerprint staff.

He called for the SCRO - which produced the original report wrongly stating that the fingerprint found at the murder scene was that of Ms McKie's - to be closed down.

If you can get 750,000 for a so-called honest mistake in Scotland, I wonder what you would get if liability was admitted
Iain McKie

Speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, the retired police officer said: "We finally have total vindication for Shirley and that was the first aim of this - to see that my daughter was safe and received total vindication for her nine-year struggle.

"If you can get 750,000 for a so-called honest mistake in Scotland, I wonder what you would get if liability was admitted - the fact remains that they are liable and the fact is that there were not honest mistakes."

Mr McKie added: "There could well be people languishing in prison in Scotland who should not be there because of similar mistakes.

"The Scottish Executive, the justice minister and the Crown Office have to sort out this horrendous mess. They have been running about like headless chickens for nine years and it is time for them to stop running.

"We want a totally open public inquiry so people can see what has happened - the public in Scotland are paying for my daughter's compensation, they should be given the answers why."

'Acted correctly'

He said that one of the aims of a public inquiry would be for criminal prosecutions to follow and he called for the Lord Advocate to launch a criminal investigation into the conduct of experts at the SCRO.

If the Lord Advocate failed to do this, Mr McKie said he would launch a private prosecution.

"We need to start from the very beginning. We need to close SCRO down, retrain and get a fingerprint service in Scotland which is the pride of the world," he added.

Ms McKie, 33, from Troon, in Ayrshire, was cleared of lying on oath in 1999 after insisting that a fingerprint found at the scene of the murder of a Kilmarnock woman was not hers.

BBC Scotland's Frontline investigation team featured her case and raised questions about the forensic evidence.

Experts from the US discredited the Scottish Criminal Records Office's findings.

Our members want to be completely cleared of any wrongdoing
Anne Russell

However Anne Russell, from Unison, said the union was standing by fingerprint staff.

She said: "Our members are professional fingerprint experts, we believed them at the start of this and we believe them now.

"They acted correctly and had no reason to do otherwise. The matter was placed before the procurator fiscal and no action was taken - that's because there was no case to answer.

"Staff were devastated when news [of the compensation award] came through."

Finger of suspicion

Ms Russell added that the union was backing calls for a public inquiry.

"Our members want to be completely cleared of any wrongdoing, no taint, no tarnish hanging over them," she said.

SNP MSP Alex Neil backed calls for an immediate public inquiry and demanded the resignation of justice minister Cathy Jamieson over the case.

He said: "She can no longer call herself the minister for justice because she has not spoken up for justice."

Mr Neil added: "Shirley had her name cleared by court years ago and should have received an apology then along with compensation.

"That this didn't happen, and individuals within the system that got it wrong in the first place were allowed to continue to point the finger of suspicion at her, is nothing short of disgraceful."

Independent fingerprint experts who supported Ms McKie's battle to clear her name said the case had profound implications.

Dutch fingerprint expert Arie Zeelenberg said: "The SCRO has had nine years to study this print - and today we hear it's an honest mistake.

"So I don't think we made much progress.

"The international fingerprint community is waiting for an admission of this mistake because it is haunting the profession all over the world."

See Shirley McKie's views on the issue

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