Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:25 UK

Tribunal for McKie print expert

Fiona McBride
Fiona McBride is claiming unfair dismissal

A fingerprint expert who lost her job in 2007 over the Shirley McKie case has started a legal bid to get reinstated.

An employment tribunal in Glasgow heard that Fiona McBride is claiming unfair dismissal after being asked to leave the Scottish Criminal Records Office.

Former detective, Ms McKie, received 750,000 in compensation after being wrongly accused of entering a murder scene and committing perjury.

The tribunal is scheduled to hear evidence over 10 days.

The case centred on a fingerprint which four Scottish police experts said belonged to Ms McKie, but which many independent analysts said did not.

Ms McBride and her colleagues maintained no mistake was made.

The four experts were suspended from duty in 2001 by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

An independent investigation followed and they were reinstated a year later, but were not allowed to carry out their normal duties.

'Expert sacked'

A report by MSPs said the officers involved had not acted maliciously.

Three of them accepted redundancy in March last year but Fiona McBride declined. She was eventually sacked.

Thursday's hearing heard from witness David Mulhern, chief executive of the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), a body formed last year which incorporated the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO).

He said that the McKie affair had had a debilitating effect on staff at the Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau.

Mr Mulhern, who was instructed by then Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to produce a report on the Scottish fingerprint service at the end of March 2006, said he found a 20% absence rate among employees.

"There was this debilitating impact of the McKie mark," he told the tribunal.

Staff meetings

Members of the Scottish Parliament's Justice 1 Committee carried out a lengthy investigation into the fingerprint service in the wake of the McKie case.

Giving evidence to the inquiry in September 2006, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd said any future trial the fingerprint experts were involved in could be overshadowed by their links to the case.

Mr Mulhern said he "fully agreed" with the Lord Advocate's comments.

Ms McBride, 43, was the only one of the officers to transfer to the SPSA.

The tribunal was told of several meetings between Mr Mulhern and union representatives towards the end of 2006, before the SCRO merged with other police bodies to form the SPSA in April last year.

The future of the four fingerprint officers and two other staff involved in the McKie case was discussed.

Mr Mulhern, who took up his position as SPSA head, on a permanent basis in December 2006, said: "I found it was incumbent on me to now deal with the matter.

"I was unwilling to take any risk with the organisation."

The tribunal continues.

McKie 'does not want' new inquiry
14 Mar 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
McKie book calls for new inquiry
17 Apr 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
MSPs deliver McKie case verdict
15 Feb 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
McKie inquiry proposals accepted
23 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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