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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson
"The men have been suspended on full pay"
 real 56k

Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Fingerprint experts suspended
Ms McKie getting her fingerprint taken
Ms McKie denied leaving a fingerprint
Four fingerprint experts who gave evidence against the former Strathclyde Police officer have been suspended.

Shirley Mckie was found guilty of perjury after a fingerprint said to be hers was found at a house in Kilmarnock where a woman had been murdered.

Ms Mckie, who was at the property as part of the police investigation into the death, denied ever entering the property.

Analysts at the Scottish Criminal Records Office strenuously denied the print could have been left by anyone else.

This has taken us a step in the right direction, but it really did not need to come to this.

Shirley Mckie
She fought the expert testimony and later won an appeal against the perjury conviction.

A report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary also confirmed that fingerprint evidence against her was wrong.

Following news of the suspensions, Ms Mckie said: "I said all along that the investigation would prove positive. This has taken us a step in the right direction, but it really did not need to come to this.

"The four people responsible could have put a stop to this earlier. But the failure to do that has brought us to this stage.

"This matter is now worldwide and everyone is looking at the Scottish fingerprint system and criticising it. Something needs to be done to put faith back into the system."

Suspensions welcomed

The suspension of the four members of the Scottish Criminal Records Office who gave evidence against Ms Mckie was confirmed by the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, William Rae.

Following the case - highlighted by BBC Scotland's Frontline Scotland programme - the Scottish Parliament was urged to introduce comprehensive changes at the records' office.

It has been agreed that future cases relying on fingerprints will be double-checked.

And the Lord Advocate has now ordered that fingerprint evidence in the trial of David Asbury - the case which Ms McKie was investigating when she was accused of perjury - is to be reviewed by an independent expert.

Asbury, from Kilbirnie in Ayrshire, was jailed in 1997 for the murder of Kilmarnock woman Marion Ross.

He denied the killing and fingerprint experts have since cast doubt over evidence presented in the case.

 Click here to watch Finger of Suspicion, part of BBC Scotland's Frontline series.

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See also:

06 Jul 00 | Scotland
Fingerprint perjury inquiry launched
23 Jun 00 | Scotland
Trial chaos fears played down
22 Jun 00 | Scotland
Fingerprints to be 'double-checked'
16 May 00 | Scotland
False impression: transcript
18 Jan 00 | Scotland
Finger of suspicion: transcript
17 Jan 00 | Scotland
Frontline Scotland
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