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BBC Scotland's David Nisbet
"The case is now the subject of an independent inquiry into the use of fingerprint evidence in Scotland"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 14:26 GMT
Experts question fingerprint evidence
Fingerprinting
The case highlighted flaws in the use of fingerprinting
Politicians and forensic scientists have backed the case of a former policewoman who stood trial for perjury.

Shirley McKie was a detective with Strathclyde Police when in 1997 she was charged with the offence for denying that a thumbprint at the scene of a crime was hers.

Four experts from the Glasgow-based Scottish Criminal Records Office said the print belonged to her.

But Ms McKie always maintained she was never inside the house and in 1999 she was found not guilty of perjury at the High Court in Glasgow.

Independent inquiry

However, the head of the SCRO insisted the fingerprint identification was sound.

The case, which was highlighted by the BBC Frontline Scotland documentary programme, is now the subject of an independent inquiry.

Its investigation raised serious questions about the procedures being used in Scotland's fingerprint labs.


Mike Russell
Mike Russell: Seeking assurances
The probe began on Monday and will look at how fingerprint evidence is used in Scotland.

It will also investigate the work of the Scottish Criminal Records Office.

Ms McKie visited the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday where - along with her supporters who included international fingerprint experts - she urged Justice Minister Jim Wallace to shed light on why she was subject to legal proceedings.

Fingerprint specialists from Lothian and Borders Police said the SCRO officers were guilty of gross incompetence at best, and, at worst, of unparalleled conspiracy.

Wider public

South of Scotland MSP Mike Russell, who met Ms McKie at the parliament, has been seeking assurances from the Scottish Executive that the inquiry into the activities of the SCRO will not be a whitewash.

He added: "I am delighted to welcome Shirley McKie to the Scottish Parliament and to help bring her case to wider attention.

"I am also very pleased to meet the American fingerprint experts who played such a crucial role at the eleventh hour to prevent a serious miscarriage of justice.

"This case cost Ms McKie her career and has caused enormous distress."

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See also:

18 Jan 00 | Scotland
Fingerprint procedure review call
17 Jan 00 | Scotland
Frontline Scotland
18 Jan 00 | Scotland
Finger of suspicion: transcript
07 Feb 00 | Scotland
Inquiry into fingerprint evidence
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