Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

McKie print expert wins tribunal

Fiona McBride
The tribunal ruled that Fiona McBride had been unfairly dismissed

A fingerprint expert who lost her job in 2007 over the Shirley McKie affair has won her case for unfair dismissal.

Fiona McBride was one of four experts who said a fingerprint left at a murder scene was that of Ms McKie, one of the investigating detectives.

Scottish ministers later accepted that a mistake was made and paid the former policewoman 750,000 in compensation.

Ms McBride was sacked from the Scottish Criminal Records Office. The tribunal has ordered her re-instatement.

Ms McBride's solicitors, Turcan Connell, said she was "delighted" at the judgment.

A spokeswoman said: "Not only does the judgment vindicate her fully, it allows her to return to a profession which she loves and in which she has many years of experience.

We will be studying the details of the tribunal's judgement and its implications, including any grounds for appeal
Jo Brigham
Scottish Police Services Authority
"It marks the end of what has been a significant ordeal for Fiona, not just since her dismissal a year and a half ago, but over the last 10 years during which time she has co-operated fully with a number of investigations and inquiries.

"Fiona would like to thank her colleagues in the fingerprint bureau and other people across Scotland and the international fingerprint community for their unwavering support throughout."

Her solicitors said the judgment ordered that Ms McBride should be "treated in all respects as if she had not been dismissed".

The judge has ordered that all her rights and privileges, including pension rights, to which she was entitled at the time of her dismissal, be restored to her.

In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Records Office was incorporated into the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA).

Its interim chief executive, Jo Brigham, said the authority may consider an appeal against the tribunal decision.

"This has been a complex and involved case," she said.

Appeal considered

"Dismissing a member of staff is a major decision and not one the organisation enters into lightly.

"We are clearly disappointed that the tribunal has found against us on this occasion.

"We will be studying the details of the tribunal's judgement and its implications, including any grounds for appeal."

The Shirley McKie affair - and its continuing fallout - has been one of the most controversial cases ever handled by the Scottish justice system.

Shirley McKie
Shirley McKie accepted 750,000 damages from Scottish ministers
Ms Mckie was cleared of perjury after a fingerprint, said to be hers, was found at a house in Kilmarnock where a woman had been murdered in 1997.

She had always denied entering the property, but four fingerprint experts - including Ms McBride - maintained that the print belonged to her.

The case drew international attention with many independent analysts disputing the findings.

Despite the controversy, the four experts stood by their initial identification.

A subsequent inquiry by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary in 2000 backed Ms McKie and recommended an overhaul of procedures at the SCRO.

Redundancy deal

The four experts at the centre of the controversy were then suspended from duty but the following year the Crown Office ruled out any criminal action against them.

Ms McKie successfully sued the Scottish Executive and SCRO over the affair and was awarded 750,000 in compensation.

In 2006, the four fingerprint officials at the centre of the case were offered a deal to leave their jobs.

Three of them accepted redundancy in March 2007 but Ms McBride declined and was eventually sacked.

It was confirmed on Thursday that she had won her tribunal.

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