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McKie 'does not want' new inquiry

14 March 08 17:35 GMT

The former police woman at the centre of a fingerprint scandal does not want a public inquiry into her case to take place, according to her family.

Shirley McKie's father, Ian McKie, said his daughter would co-operate with the inquiry, to be led by a senior Northern Ireland judge, but wanted to move on.

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

She was later awarded £750,000 in compensation.

The inquiry, to be headed by Lord Justice Campbell, is due to start in September but no official date has been set.

The judge is expected to report on how any "shortcomings" could be avoided in the future.

Fingerprint 'failures'

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.

Ms McKie and her father had long campaigned for a public inquiry into the case, and the SNP committed to an inquiry in its election manifesto.

But at a press conference to mark the launch of the inquiry, Mr McKie said his daughter had "had enough of it".

He said: "She has appeared in court twice, she has appeared at a parliamentary inquiry and she has tried to get on with her life.

"She was a young woman when this started, and 11 years or more have been taken from her life."

Mr McKie said he regarded Lord Campbell's inquiry as an end point.

"If the politicians and the judiciary don't get this right, so be it - that's on their head, and I will certainly be walking away from it once this inquiry is finished," he said.

Announcing the appointment of Lord Campbell, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the inquiry marked a significant step forward.

He said: "For over a decade, the Shirley McKie case has cast a cloud of suspicion and uncertainty not just over individuals involved but over the criminal justice system.

"Previous reviews have shed some light on matters, but they have not fully explained the events. They have not entirely dispersed that cloud."

The Scottish Government said Lord Campbell would remain focused on his duties in Northern Ireland until August.

The Scottish Government will hand over any material it holds which might be useful to the inquiry, and in an "exceptional" move the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, will do likewise.

And if requested, ministers, prosecution and government officials would appear in person.

'Difficult issues'

The inquiry will not be Lord Justice Campbell's first encounter with the Scottish Justice system.

In 2000 he was appointed by the Lord Advocate to hold an inquiry into the decision-making process in the prosecution of three men who had been accused of the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar, and he gave evidence to Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee in 2002.

On his appointment, he said: "By their very nature, public inquiries tend to deal with issues that are difficult and sensitive.

"I intend that this inquiry will be both rigorous and fair in dealing with the issues and individuals."

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