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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
MSPs demand McKie case documents
Holyrood's Justice 1 Committee
The case sparked an inquiry by the Holyrood committee
A Holyrood committee has demanded that the Scottish Executive hand over reports into the Shirley McKie case.

The lord advocate and justice minister have refused to give the documents, written by fingerprint experts and a senior police officer, to MSPs.

The executive said there were sound reasons for not releasing the reports, one of which was leaked to the media.

Now the Justice 1 Committee, which has launched an inquiry following the case, has voted to request the documents.

The committee's members, including three Labour MPs and one Liberal Democrat, were unanimously in favour of the move.

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

She received 750,000 in an out-of-court settlement from the Scottish Executive, which said an honest mistake had been made in "good faith".

The case prompted the Justice 1 Committee to launch an inquiry into the Scottish fingerprint service.

The four fingerprint experts at the centre of the controversy told MSPs this week that they stood by the original identification.

The committee has now called for four reports to be handed over.

Iain and Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie received compensation from the executive

One is an unpublished report compiled by former Tayside Deputy Chief Constable James MacKay.

He was asked by the lord advocate to investigate how Ms McKie's print was wrongly identified.

His report was released to the media last month by Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle, along with precognition statements made by Mr MacKay and by Det Ch Supt Scott Robertson.

The politician said he received the documents in a brown envelope.

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

We need the full evidence to be made available so that the committee can undertake as detailed an investigation as possible
Nicola Sturgeon
SNP Holyrood leader

The committee also voted to ask the executive release two reports by fingerprint expert John MacLeod, commissioned as part of its defence of a civil action by Ms McKie, and one by independent expert Michael Pass.

The Scottish National Party's Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the committee's move.

"It's about time the Labour and Lib Dem government came clean on this matter and released these vital reports to the committee so that they can conduct a proper investigation," she said.

"Without these reports, the parliament's inquiry into the Shirley McKie case will be hamstrung.

"We need the full evidence to be made available so that the committee can undertake as detailed an investigation as possible."

The executive has told the committee that there are sound legal principles for not releasing the reports.


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