Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Witness dispute hits McKie probe

Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie won 750,000 in compensation

The inquiry into the Shirley McKie case has become embroiled in a dispute before it has taken any evidence.

A noted Swiss academic was to have been the sole expert witness, but more may now be recruited after objections from witnesses due to give evidence.

Ms McKie, a former police detective, was cleared of perjury after being accused of leaving a fingerprint at an Ayrshire murder scene in 1997.

She later accepted 750,000 in compensation.

The public inquiry into the case, set up by Scottish ministers, is not now expected to hear its first evidence until mid May.

Key prints

The change of tack was said to reflect the fact that the original sole expert, Prof Christophe Champod of Lausanne University, is an academic, rather than a practising fingerprint expert.

Now, a Home Office scientist will carry out various technical tasks, with a proviso that several more experts may be called in.

The Shirley McKie affair, one of the most controversial cases handled by the Scottish justice system, surrounded claims that a fingerprint, said to be hers, was found at a house in Kilmarnock where a woman was murdered.

Ms McKie had always denied entering the property, but four fingerprint experts maintained the print belonged to her.

There has always been dispute over the images of the key prints and consideration will now be given to all the photographs submitted, instead of a single standard set of images.

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