Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 13:50 UK

McKie inquiry holds first hearing

Shirley McKie
Ms McKie was cleared of perjury and granted 750,000 compensation

The public inquiry into the Shirley McKie fingerprint scandal has opened in Glasgow.

Ms McKie was cleared of perjury after being accused of leaving a fingerprint at an Ayrshire murder scene in 1997 and received 750,000 in compensation.

Former Northern Ireland Judge Sir Anthony Campbell is leading the inquiry, announced by the Scottish Government earlier this year.

In his opening statement he said he wanted a "full and fair" hearing.

Ms McKie, from Troon, Ayrshire, challenged the findings of fingerprint experts working for the Scottish Criminal Record Office following accusations she left her fingerprint at the Kilmarnock home of murder victim Marion Ross.

She received a 750,000 out-of-court settlement from the then Scottish Executive and a parliamentary inquiry was launched to see what lessons could be learned.

The Justice 1 Committee highlighted a series of failures in the management of the Scottish Fingerprint Service.

At the initial hearing at Glasgow Concert Hall on Monday, Sir Anthony Campbell said the inquiry would be inquisitorial and not an adversarial contest.

I just want the truth to be out. I just want to leave this matter behind me after nearly 12 years
Iain McKee

He said: "I can appreciate that for many of those who have been involved in these matters it will be very stressful to have to return to them yet again.

"It is my aim that the inquiry should be thorough and that when it ends all those who have been involved in it should feel that they have been given a full and fair hearing."

He announced the core participants of the inquiry.

They include Ms McKie and her father Iain McKie, the Lord Advocate Eilish Angiolini, the chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Stephen House, and David Asbury, who was accused of the murder.

Others include fingerprint specialists Peter Swann and Alister Geddes.

Core participants have a wider role in the inquiry, and are normally given advance access to the evidence that will be given at a particular day's hearing.

The McKies and Mr Asbury will be represented by the same lawyer.

The inquiry will look at the steps taken to identify and verify the fingerprints associated with and leading up to the court case against Ms McKie in 1999.

'Consciences clear'

It will make recommendations as to what measures may be introduced to ensure that any shortcomings are avoided in the future.

Sir Anthony Campbell said there would be two areas to the inquiry - fact-finding and making recommendations.

Iain McKie welcomed the inquiry and said he hoped it would put an end to the matter.

He said: "I think Sir Anthony's team are determined that they will root out the truth of the whole matter and that pleases me greatly.

"What's important is that he finds out the truth. I just want the truth to be out. I just want to leave this matter behind me after nearly 12 years."

He added: "I will accept the findings of this inquiry. I will leave this, and my daughter will leave this, with our consciences clear and ready to get on with the rest of our lives."

He said he would like everyone taking part in the inquiry to be put on oath.

Ms McKee was not present at Monday's session in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.

A procedural hearing will take place on 21 November.

Sir Anthony Campbell said the oral hearings were not likely to start before February 2009. A venue has still to be announced.

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