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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Handling of McKie case 'criminal'
Shirley McKie
Ms McKie spent years fighting for justice
Failure to address errors in the Shirley McKie fingerprint case amounted to "criminal action", according to papers made public by a politician.

Statements made by senior police officers on the misidentification of Ms McKie's print have been released by Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle.

One of the officers says "institutional arrogance" in the fingerprint service led to a criminal course of action.

Ms McKie, a former detective, was cleared and won 750,000 compensation.

Mr Pringle said the documents came to him in a brown envelope and he was releasing them in the public interest.

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


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David Asbury was jailed for the murder and freed after judges accepted that fingerprint evidence against him was unreliable.

The three papers comprise a previously unpublished 58-page report written by the then deputy chief constable of Tayside Police, James MacKay and a precognition statement made by him.

The third is a precognition statement by Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Robertson.

They were asked in June 2000 to investigate how Ms McKie's print was wrongly identified right at the beginning of the case in 1997.

'Dire consequences'

The MacKay report gives a detailed account of how the misidentification of her fingerprint occurred.

Mr MacKay said "institutional arrogance" in the fingerprint service had led to a criminal course of action.

The report also states: "Clearly the errors were capable of admission at various stages in the process with minimal impact on those making them.

"The police service has a culture of openness, honesty and integrity and in such situations, while I believe there would have been frustration by management, there would have been no recriminations in a mistake being made.

"It is the obdurate and arrogant stance which prevailed through the chain of events contributing in the conviction of David Asbury and the prosecution of Shirley McKie which transferred both misidentifications from an error status to a criminal action with dire consequences."

Now that they are in the public domain it would be only right for the committee to consider them and learn from what happened
Mike Pringle
Lib Dem MSP

In a precognition statement, Mr MacKay said he was "disappointed and rather surprised" there was no prosecution of staff at the Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO).

Ministers have continually blamed events in the case on "an honest mistake".

Mr Pringle said the justice committee should now be able to consider the reports as part of its inquiry into the running of the SCRO and Scottish Fingerprint Service (SFS).

He said: "I think now that they are in the public domain it would be only right for the committee to consider them and learn from what happened, so that we can repair the damage that has been done both in Scotland and to our international reputation."

Watch a report on the McKie case papers


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