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Inquiry into the Scottish Criminal Record Office and the Scottish Fingerprint Service

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

section 1: background and introduction

Background to the inquiry

1. On 8 January 1997, Marion Ross was found murdered in her home in Kilmarnock.

2. Shirley McKie, also known as Shirley Cardwell, a Detective Constable with Strathclyde Police, was part of the murder investigation team.  In the course of the murder investigation, Scottish Criminal Record Office fingerprint officers identified a mark (given the reference code Y7) on the bathroom doorframe as matching Ms McKie’s left thumbprint. 

3. Shirley McKie was informed on 11 February 1997 that her left thumbprint had been identified at the crime scene.  On that same day, Ms McKie contested the identification, denying that she had ever entered the house.

4. In May 1997, David Asbury was tried for the murder of Marion Ross. Ms McKie gave evidence as part of Mr Asbury’s trial.  During her evidence she denied that she had entered the deceased’s house and further denied that a fingerprint discovered on the bathroom doorframe was her print.  Mr Asbury was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

5. At the conclusion of David Asbury’s trial, Crown Counsel considered that there was a prima facie basis for considering that Ms McKie had committed perjury. Accordingly, the Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow was instructed to precognose the case and report to Crown Counsel.  The report was submitted in 1998 and the then Solicitor General, Colin Boyd, took the decision to prosecute Ms McKie.1 The basis of the charge was that Ms McKie had been in Marion Ross’s house during the course of the police investigation; mark Y7 had been made by her, and that, therefore, she had lied under oath at the Asbury trial. Ms McKie continued to deny that she had entered the murder scene and left her print on the doorframe.

6. On 14 May 1999, a jury unanimously found Ms McKie not guilty of perjury.  

7. In August 2000, Mr Asbury appealed against his conviction and was granted interim liberation pending a full appeal.  His conviction for murder was quashed on 14 August 2002.  The Crown had not opposed the appeal in light of new analysis of the fingerprint evidence which contradicted the Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) findings.2

8. Ms McKie’s acquittal triggered a series of inquiries, investigations, reports, media and political campaigns and legal actions over the following seven years.  The common thread was the dispute over the identification of mark Y7 but there have been ramifications that have gone far beyond the individual circumstances of one case. 

9. The impetus for this inquiry was the decision by Scottish Ministers to settle an action for damages brought by Ms McKie for malicious prosecution.  On 7 February 2006 a settlement was reached and Ms McKie accepted damages of £750,000.

10. Following this out-of-court settlement, on 22 February 2006, the Minister for Justice, Cathy Jamieson MSP, told the Parliament—

“Much has been made of the rights and wrongs in this case.  I firmly believe that settling with Ms McKie was the right thing to do.  It was right for her as fair recompense for all that she has been through.  It was right for our fingerprint service and its staff to allow them to move forward as part of a new national forensic service and central police authority and it was right for the Executive as an appropriate settlement that is a defensible use of the public purse.”3

11. There was, however, no admission of liability on the part of the Scottish Ministers. The Minister for Justice explained to the Committee the basis for the settlement—

“We did not accept that there had been malicious intent on the part of the SCRO officers, so we were prepared to arrive at a settlement by mutual agreement that allowed us to maintain our position that there had not been malice while accepting that there had been a misidentification. That is the position that we have held.”4

12. Previously, on 9 February 2006, the First Minister, Jack McConnell MSP, told the Parliament that the identification of mark Y7 was an honest mistake—

“In this case, it is quite clear—and this was accepted in the settlement that was announced on Tuesday—that an honest mistake was made by individuals. I believe that all concerned have accepted that.”5

13. Having settled the case, Ministers were understandably keen to draw a line under the affair. It was apparent, however, that not all those concerned accepted that an honest mistake had been made.  Despite agreeing to the settlement, it was apparent that neither Ms McKie, nor her father, was willing to believe that an honest mistake was made. 

14. Similarly, the SCRO officers who had originally made the identification continued to maintain that they had not made a mistake.  At the same time, various experts and supporters from both sides kept up their arguments in the media.  There were growing calls for a public inquiry to be held into the case. 

15. In the course of her statement the Minister for Justice outlined her opposition to the establishment of a public inquiry into the case—

“A number of members have expressed support for an independent public inquiry.  We need to consider carefully whether anything of value could be achieved by such an inquiry, how long it would take and what impact it would have on the process of reform while we were awaiting its outcome.

A statutory inquiry could not rule on any person's civil or criminal liability and it could not rule on whether Ms McKie's claim against the Scottish Ministers would have been successful had she not agreed to settle out of court without admission of liability.

It could not rule on convictions or acquittals that took place in the past nor could it determine whether particular persons who were under investigation were guilty of criminal conduct.

A public inquiry could not change the outcome of the criminal investigation, it could not reverse the findings of the disciplinary investigation and I very much doubt whether it would be the right way to secure further improvement of our fingerprint service.”6

16. As part of her statement, the Minister for Justice announced that she had instructed the then interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Police Services Authority, Deputy Chief Constable David Mulhern, to produce, by the end of March 2006, an action plan to develop the Scottish Fingerprint Service as an integrated part of the new Scottish Forensic Science Service from April 2007.

17. At its meeting on 22 February 2006, the Justice 1 Committee considered the impact of the McKie case on the Scottish Criminal Record Office, Scottish Fingerprint Service and wider Scottish justice system and agreed to write to the Minister for Justice, seeking further information.

18. On 8 March, the Parliament agreed by resolution that action needed to be taken to restore public and professional confidence in the Scottish Fingerprint Service but that a public inquiry was not appropriate.7

19. At its meeting on 22 March 2006, and following consideration of correspondence received from the Minister for Justice, the Committee agreed to hold an inquiry, with the following remit—

To consider the efficient running of the Scottish Criminal Record Office and Scottish Fingerprint Service; the implications of the McKie case; the operation of SCRO and within that the fingerprint service and public confidence in the standards of fingerprint evidence in Scotland; to scrutinise the implementation of recommendations of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary primary inspection report of 2000 and to ensure that their service is efficient and effective; and to scrutinise the Action Plan announced by the Minister for Justice for improvements in fingerprint and forensic services in Scotland.

Purpose of the inquiry

20. The purpose of this inquiry has been to contribute to the process of restoring public confidence in the Scottish Fingerprint Service.

21. While the Committee was aware of the work being done by David Mulhern, the Committee could not accept that, in the context of the febrile atmosphere which prevailed in the weeks following the settlement of the civil action, the production of an Action Plan for Excellence (following a series of inquiries, inspections and reports in the preceding seven years) would, on its own, be enough to convince the general public that they could have confidence in fingerprint evidence.

22. To this end, the Committee considered that the actual process of holding an inquiry could be useful as part of the process to restore public confidence.  The Committee considered that the inquiry would be a forum where, put simply, people could have their say.  The Committee considered that there would be merit, of itself, in the process of evidence-taking as a means by which opinions could be aired; questions could be put and positions could be clarified. 

23. The remit of the inquiry is forward-looking and is focussed on the efficiency and effectiveness of SCRO and the Scottish Fingerprint Service. 

24. At the same time, however, there is a need to see what lessons can be learned from the key events that surrounded the fingerprint identification process in relation to mark Y7 (the fingerprint which was alleged to have been made by Ms McKie) and the subsequent inquiries, inspections and reports .

25. It was relevant for the inquiry to examine the procedures which were followed by SCRO fingerprint officers in the initial identification of mark Y7  and, more generally, the procedures which were in place in the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in 1997 and to track how these procedures have changed over the intervening years.  

26. The Committee also considered it extremely important to examine the basis on which the Executive chose to settle out-of-court the civil action raised by Ms McKie.  This includes examination of the course of events which led to the settlement of the action and also consideration of the explanation given by the Executive as to why it chose to settle out-of-court. 

Issues outwith the scope of the inquiry

27. It is important to make clear from the outset that there were a number of issues which were outwith the scope of this inquiry. 

28. Firstly, it has never been the purpose of this inquiry to pass judgement or otherwise comment on allegations of criminality by any individual.  The Committee accepts entirely that this is a matter for the independent prosecution service and, ultimately, the courts.  It is not a matter for the legislature.

29. In evidence to the inquiry, Lord Boyd of Duncansby – the Solicitor General and subsequently Lord Advocate throughout the period in question – told the Committee that he stood by the decision to prosecute Ms McKie on the basis of the information known at the time.  He told the Committee that while he accepted that lessons could be learned from the way in which trials like this one were conducted, “the right decisions were taken, given the evidence and information that we had at the time” and that having spoken to the advocate depute (Sean Murphy) about the conduct of the trial, “at the time, I would probably have handled the trial in exactly the same way.”8

30. However, he did tell the Committee that if he had known then what he knew now then his decision “might well have been different”.9 

31. The Committee is aware that the view of the former Lord Advocate is not shared by everyone.  People are, of course, entitled to their own view on this subject.  However the Committee’s opinion is that it is not the function of the Parliament, or one of its committees, to challenge the judgement of the Lord Advocate as head of the independent system of prosecution in respect of individual decisions in relation to individual cases.

32. This means that it was not part of the remit of the inquiry for the Committee to enquire into the individual decisions taken by the former Lord Advocate; advocates depute or other Crown Office employees in relation to prosecution decisions.

33. It has, therefore, not been part of this inquiry to examine the way in which the Crown Office handled the prosecution of Ms McKie in the perjury trial. Similarly, the Committee has not sought to open up the decision-making process which culminated in the previous Lord Advocate’s decisions:

  • not to prosecute the SCRO fingerprint officers involved in identifying the mark from the murder scene as that of Ms McKie; or
  • not to defend the appeal by David Asbury against his conviction for the murder of Marion Ross. 

34. Secondly, it has not been the intention of this inquiry to re-try Shirley McKie.

35. Thirdly, it has not been the purpose of this inquiry to act as a disciplinary tribunal for SCRO employees or anyone else.

36. Fourthly, the rules of the Parliament in relation to cases that are sub judice10 mean that Members of the Parliament (or committees) may not refer to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active except to the extent permitted by the Presiding Officer. In relation to this inquiry, this has meant that the Committee was not able to enquire into the status of another mark from the Marion Ross murder case, known by the reference QI2.  Its status is relevant to an ongoing civil action and, as such, remains sub judice.  Accordingly, the Committee has been unable to comment on this mark as part of the inquiry.  

Evidence-taking process

Evidence taking process – the need for transparency

37. From the outset, the Committee was conscious that the inquiry would cover sensitive and deeply contentious matters.  It was also obvious that this type of inquiry would be uncomfortable for a number of the parties most closely involved due to the rawness of the subject matter.

38. The Committee has consciously undertaken its inquiry in as transparent a way as was possible.  All relevant and timely written evidence was published in full.  All evidence-taking sessions were held in public.  The Committee fully recognised that in adopting this approach there was the potential for personal criticisms to be made in public which those being criticised considered to be inaccurate or unfounded.  The Committee was also cognisant of the potential for evidence to be submitted which was, at best, tangential and, occasionally, irrelevant to the terms of the remit.  

39. The Committee considers that its decision to publish all evidence rather than withholding part of the evidence was necessary and appropriate given the public interest in the outcome of the inquiry. 

Procedural and legal complexities – powers under the Scotland Act

40. In addition to the highly controversial subject matter, the inquiry also threw up a number of procedural and legal issues which, when taken together, made the inquiry the most complex undertaken by any parliamentary committee in the history of the Parliament. 

41. In particular, the Committee has had to grapple with the extent of the Parliament’s (and its committees’) power to call for witnesses and documents, as provided for by the Scotland Act 1998. Given the constitutional importance of these matters, it is appropriate to comment in this part of the report on some of the more significant challenges which the Committee faced during the course of the evidence-taking phase of the inquiry.

42. In undertaking the inquiry the Committee took full account of the powers at its disposal under section 23 of the Scotland Act to compel the attendance of witnesses and to call for the production of documents.  The Committee at all times was prepared to exercise these powers if evidence it required could not otherwise be obtained.  The Committee was also fully aware of the provisions of section 26 of the Act which allowed the Committee to take evidence under oath if required.  Witnesses giving evidence were reminded of that power at each evidence session.  In the event, the Committee did not find it necessary to exercise these powers.

43. In any inquiry, difficult and competing issues of public interest arise as to what information should be released and in what context.  The Committee was conscious that its powers under the Scotland Act to obtain evidence were not unfettered.  There are explicit restrictions to that effect in sections 23(9) and 27(3) of the Act.  The Committee could not, for example, compel the production of evidence which would attract privilege in court proceedings.  However, the Committee did not feel unduly restricted by the operation of these provisions.  Had the inquiry been set up in another way, such as an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, statutory restrictions on the production of certain evidence would also have applied.

44. In conducting the inquiry, the Committee has sought to bring into the public domain as much information as possible in relation to the McKie case and the operation of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  To this end, the Committee had to assert its legitimate right to have access to documents which had, until this inquiry, not been publicly disclosed.  The Committee was involved in vigorous and detailed negotiations to secure access to documents which the Committee considered to be absolutely essential to being able to fulfil the inquiry remit.

45. By seeking evidence on a voluntary basis and in some cases by negotiation, the Committee has been able to obtain a great deal of information and material that had not previously been made public.  The Committee is satisfied that its approach to the inquiry was the correct way to proceed. 

The MacLeod and Pass Reports

46. The Committee was able to obtain from the Minister for Justice previously confidential reports prepared for the Scottish Executive by independent fingerprint experts John MacLeod and Michael Pass.  The two reports prepared by John MacLeod concerning mark Y7 had a direct bearing on the decision by Scottish Ministers to reach a negotiated settlement with Shirley McKie.

47. The Minister initially refused to release the reports as she considered that to do so could potentially undermine Ministers’ position in future legal proceedings where they required to commission expert reports on a confidential basis.

48. However, the Committee was adamant that it was in the public interest that these reports should be disclosed.  Indeed, the Committee went as far as to agree a formal motion calling upon the Minister for Justice, Cathy Jamieson MSP, to release the documents.11  Following further negotiation, the Minister agreed to release the reports to the Committee.  In so doing, the Minister acknowledged the exceptional background to the inquiry and its great importance to the criminal justice system, the discipline of fingerprinting and to public perceptions of both.12  The Committee commends the Executive for its recognition of the Committee’s position.  The Committee took the decision to publish the reports in full.

The Mackay Report

49. The Committee also sought from the Lord Advocate, a copy of the police report prepared by Deputy Chief Constable James Mackay following his criminal investigation into the actions of SCRO fingerprint officers in the McKie case.  The substance of the report was already in the public domain following unauthorised disclosure of the Executive Summary which had appeared on a number of websites.  The Committee’s stated position was that it wished to receive the full report but that it would not make use of any report which had been disclosed without authority.  Once again, the Committee agreed a motion calling upon the Lord Advocate to release the report.13  This request was refused by the Lord Advocate as he considered that reports of police officers to the Procurator Fiscal are protected by common law duties of confidentiality and that to release the report would lead to a process that focussed on the allegations of criminality and the decision to take no proceedings. 

50. As previously stated, it was never the intention of the Committee to challenge or otherwise question the decision taken by the then Lord Advocate not to prosecute any individuals on the basis of Mr Mackay’s findings.  The Committee considers that the independence of the Lord Advocate as head of the prosecution service in Scotland is an essential part of our system of criminal justice.

51. However, the Committee considered that it was legitimate to look at matters such as organisational culture, processes and standards within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.  The Committee considered that information on these matters would assist the inquiry by allowing the Committee to compare Mr Mackay’s conclusions with those of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau of May 2000 and the subsequent  ACPOS Change Management Review Team of October 2000.

52. Following further correspondence and a meeting between the then Lord Advocate and the Convener, he agreed to release a synopsis of information from the report which related to these matters. 

53. While the Committee referred to the synopsis provided by the then Lord Advocate, it has been wary of placing too much emphasis on the information contained within the synopsis as the extracts could not be considered in the context of the full report.  Given the scope and nature of the Committee’s inquiry, the Committee considers that it would have been in the public interest for this report to have been disclosed in its entirety.  In particular, this would have allowed the Committee to scrutinise the report and closely question Mr Mackay on its contents when he appeared before the Committee to give evidence.  On this basis, the Committee considers that the then Lord Advocate was wrong to withhold the full Mackay report.

Evidence taken

54. On 23 March 2006, the Committee issued a call for evidence on the inquiry and received 14 responses.  All submissions received were published as a Committee Report on 17 May 2006.14  A number of supplementary and additional submissions were received after the deadline.  Those accepted into evidence by the Committee are published in volume two of the report and are also available on the Scottish Parliament website.15 

55. The oral evidence sessions were arranged as follows:

Session 1: 12th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 26 April

Deputy Chief Constable David Mulhern, then Interim Chief Executive, Scottish Police Services Authority
John McLean, Director, Scottish Criminal Record Office
Ewan Innes, Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service
Joanne Tierney, Training Manager, Scottish Fingerprint Service
Bruce Grant, Head of Counter Terrorism, Forensic Services, Metropolitan Police
Arie Zeelenberg, Senior Fingerprint Expert, Dutch National Police Force
Danny Greathouse, Department of Homeland Security, USA
Chief Constable Peter Wilson, President, Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS)
Chief Constable Ian Latimer, Vice President, ACPOS

Session 2: 17th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 23 May

Shirley McKie, Iain McKie and Andrew Smith QC
Hugh Ferry, former Head of the Scottish Criminal Record Office

Session 3: 19th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 30 May

Hugh Macpherson, Principal Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Fiona McBride, Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Anthony McKenna, Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Charles Stewart, Principal Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau

Session 4: 22nd Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 7 June

Arie Zeelenberg, Senior Fingerprint Expert, Dutch National Police Force and Chairman of the Interpol Fingerprint Expert Monitoring Group
Peter Swann, Independent Fingerprint Expert
Pat Wertheim, Independent Fingerprint Expert
Allan Bayle, Independent Fingerprint Expert
John McGregor, Principal Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Aberdeen Bureau
Jim Aitken, Principal Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Edinburgh Bureau
Ken Clacher, Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Dundee Bureau

Session 5: 24th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 20 June

James Mackay, Former Deputy Chief Constable Tayside Police
Natasha Durkin, Solicitor, Shepherd and Wedderburn
Scott Robertson, Former Detective Chief Superintendent, Tayside Police
Sir William Rae, Honorary Secretary, ACPOS
James Black, Human Resources Consultant
Doris Littlejohn, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee

Session 6: 26th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 26 June

John MacLeod, Independent Fingerprint Expert
Mike Thompson, Head of National Fingerprint Training, Centrex NTC
Peter Swann, Independent Fingerprint Expert
Malcolm Graham, Independent Fingerprint Expert
John Berry, Independent Fingerprint Expert
Robert Mackenzie, Deputy Head of Bureau, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Alan Dunbar, Quality Assurance Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Terry Foley, Senior Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau
Alister Geddes, Fingerprint Officer, Scottish Fingerprint Service, Glasgow Bureau

Session 7: 28th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 6 September

William Taylor, former HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland
Jim Wallace MSP, former Minister for Justice
Deputy Chief Constable David Mulhern, then Interim Chief Executive, Scottish Police Services Authority
Joanne Tierney, Training Manager, Scottish Fingerprint Service

Session 8: 29th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2) 12 September

Lord Boyd of Duncansby, then Lord Advocate
Cathy Jamieson MSP, Minister for Justice.

Structure of the report

56. The remainder of the report is structured as follows—

Section Two: Mark Y7

One of the elements of the remit is to examine the implications of the McKie case.  The Committee considers that there is merit in trying to set out in as accessible format as possible a narrative on what happened in relation to mark Y7 and to then set out, in a discursive format, the key issues of dispute between those individuals who consider mark Y7 to have been correctly identified and those who consider that it was misidentified. 

Accordingly, in this section, the report sets out the basis for the original identification of mark Y7.  The report then discusses the various areas of disagreement that exist over mark Y7.  This section of the report also explores what has been said about the professional competence of the SCRO officers in relation to mark Y7.

This section of the report also considers the Scottish Executive’s settlement of the civil action for damages brought by Ms McKie. The report sets out a comprehensive account of the legal process that eventually led to the Scottish Executive reaching an out-of-court settlement with Ms McKie. 

Section 3: Reviews of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau

Another element of the remit is to scrutinise the implementation of recommendations made by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in its report following the Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000.  The inspection was conducted by the then Chief Inspector of Constabulary, William Taylor.  He went into great detail about all aspects of how the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was run and the procedures which were in place at that time.  In order to understand how efficient and effective the Scottish Fingerprint Service now is, it is imperative to look back to this 2000 review to see what the key concerns were at that time and how they were subsequently tackled by the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau and Scottish Fingerprint Service in the period up to 2006. 

Accordingly, this section of the report is an in-depth analysis of a number of the structural; leadership and management; human resources; procedural and quality assurance issues which the Committee considers to be particularly important.

Section 4: The Future of the Scottish Fingerprint Service

The final element of the remit to give scrutiny to the Action Plan for Excellence for improvements in fingerprint and forensic science services in Scotland.  It is a widely shared view that the Scottish Fingerprint Service needs a fresh start and that the implementation of this Action Plan is a crucial part of this process. 

This section of the report also considers the baseline review of the Scottish Fingerprint Service conducted by Sir David O’Dowd and the progress made to date in implementing the various action points contained in the Action Plan.

Finally, this section of the report puts forward the Committee’s view on whether the Action Plan for Excellence is fit for purpose and makes recommendations for modifications the Committee considers should be made to strengthen it.  

Section 5: Key Conclusions and Recommendations

This section of the report reproduces the Committee’s key conclusions and recommendations.

Supporting references

57. One of the key purposes of the report is to try to set out in a single document what the Committee considers to be the key issues over the 10 year period covered by the report.  Given the complexity of the issues at stake, there is a basic but fundamental aim to provide clarity wherever it is possible to do so. 

58. As part of this aim, the Committee considered that it would be useful to produce a timeline of the all the key events.  This timeline is set out at pages 16-35.  Immediately before the timeline is a list of the various people who are referred to during the course of the report. [pages 13-15] By giving the timeline and this list such prominence, it is hoped that this will enable readers to have a more readily digestible picture of events. After the timeline of events is a guide to the fingerprint identification and verification process to assist the reader in understanding the report.  Finally, at the end of the report is a glossary of terms [pages 205-208].

Nature of conclusions and recommendations

59. It is important to note that in the course of charting the key issues, as they appear to the Committee, the Committee has chosen not to draw conclusions on all of the issues which are covered in this report. 

60. The Committee considers that some of these matters should properly be left to subject-experts.  In these situations, the Committee considers it appropriate simply to draw out, in language that is as accessible as possible, what the issues are and to allow readers to come to their own conclusions. 

61. There are, of course, other political and broader policy issues on which it is entirely appropriate for the Committee to draw conclusions and, indeed, make recommendations.  It is the aim of the report to do this.

LIST OF PEOPLE REFERENCED IN THE REPORT

Surname

First name

Job title/relation to inquiry

Aitken

Jim

Principal Fingerprint Officer, SFS Edinburgh Bureau

Asbury

David

Prosecuted for murder of Marion Ross; conviction subsequently quashed

Bayle

Allan

Independent Fingerprint expert

Bell

Harry

Director, SCRO - November 1998 to April 2003

Berry

John

Independent Fingerprint expert

Black

James

Human Resources Consultant

Boyd of Duncansby (Lord)

Colin

Lord Advocate - 2000 to 2006

Brown

Andrew

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary – March 2004 to present

Brown

Lesley Anne

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Bruce

Edward

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Cameron

Roy

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary - January 2002 to January 2004

Clacher

Ken

Principal Fingerprint Officer, SFS Dundee Bureau

Crowe

Frank

Deputy Crown Agent in HMA v Shirley McKie

Daniels

Peter

Her Majesty's Lay Inspector of Constabulary

Dunbar

Alan

Quality Assurance Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Evett

Ian

Forensic Scientist - Co-author of the Evett and Willams report on the 16 point standard

Ferry16

Hugh

Head of the SCRO - November 1995 to November 1998

Findlay

Donald

Shirley McKie's QC in HMA v Shirley McKie

Foley

Terry

Senior Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Geddes

Alister

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

German

Ed

Operator of fingerprint website www.onin.com

Gilchrist

William

Former Regional Procurator Fiscal for North Strathclyde

Graham

Malcolm

Independent Fingerprint expert

Grant

Bruce

Head of Counter-Terrorism Forensic Services, Metropolitan Police

Greathouse

Danny

Department of Homeland Security, USA

Grieve

David

Independent Fingerprint expert

Halliday

David

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Hamilton

John

Former Chief Constable, Fife Constabulary and Chair of the Scottish Fingerprint Service Working Group

Hodge (Lord)

Patrick

Presiding Judge in determining award of damages in Shirley McKie against the Scottish Ministers

Innes

Ewan

Head of SFS

Jamieson MSP

Cathy

Minister for Justice - May 2003 to present

Jofre

Shelly

BBC Panorama/Frontline Scotland Reporter

Johnston (Lord)

Allan

Presiding Judge in HMA v Shirley McKie

Latimer

Ian

Chief Constable of Northern Constabulary and Vice President, ACPOS

Leadbetter

Martin

Independent Fingerprint expert

Littlejohn

Doris

Chair of the Scrutiny Committee

Mackay

James

Former Deputy Chief Constable, Tayside Police

Mackenzie

Robert

Deputy Head of SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

MacLeod

John

Independent Fingerprint expert

Macpherson

Hugh

Principal Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

McBride

Fiona

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

McConnell MSP

Jack

First Minister - November 2001 to present

McGregor

John

Principal Fingerprint Officer, SFS Aberdeen Bureau

McInnes

Kenny

Head of the ACPOS Change Management Review Team

McKenna

Anthony

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

McKie

Shirley

Prosecuted for perjury - found not guilty by unanimous verdict

McKie

Iain

Father of Shirley McKie

McLean

John

Director, SCRO - April 2005 to May 2006

McClure

Jean

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Mulhern

David

Chief Executive, Scottish Police Services Authority

Murphy

Sean

Prosecuting QC in HMA v Shirley McKie

Nelson

Tom

Director, Scottish Forensic Science Service

O’Dowd

Sir David

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales – 1996 to 2001

O’Neill

William

Head of SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, November 1995 to October 1997

Padden

Greg

Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Pass

Michael

Independent Fingerprint consultant

Rae

Sir William

Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and Honorary Secretary, ACPOS

Robertson

Scott

Former Detective Chief Superintendent, Tayside Police

Rolfe

Mervyn

Chairman, Scottish Police Services Authority

Ross

Marion

Murder victim

Rudrud

Torger

Fingerprint Expert, Norwegian National Bureau of Investigation

Russell

David

Peter Swann's solicitor

Smith QC

Andrew

Shirley McKie's QC

Stewart

Charles

Principal Fingerprint Officer, SCRO/Glasgow Fingerprint Bureau

Swann

Peter

Independent Fingerprint expert

Taylor

William

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary - January 1999 to January 2001

Thompson

Mike

Head of National Fingerprint Training, Centrex NTC

Tierney

Joanne

Training Manager, SFS, 2003 to present

Wallace MSP

Jim

Minister for Justice - 1999 to 2003

Wertheim

Pat

Independent Fingerprint expert

Wheatley (Lord)

John

Presiding Judge in Shirley McKie v. The Strathclyde Joint Police Board and Others

Williams

Ray

Co-author of the Evett and Willams report on the 16 point standard

Wilson

Peter

Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary and President, ACPOS

Zeelenberg

Arie

Senior Fingerprint Expert, Dutch National Police Force

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

1960

Date

Event/Incident

Source

1960

SCRO was established as a Common Police Service to act as a central repository for criminal records and the national fingerprint collection.  The SCRO Controlling Committee was established, chaired by a senior civil servant, with representatives from ACPOS and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMCIC).

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

1975

Date

Event/Incident

Source

1975

With the amalgamation of forces, SCRO moved to Strathclyde Police Headquarters in Pitt Street, Glasgow. Although little changed in respect of conviction information, the provision of fingerprint services was reshaped. SCRO continued to do all case work for Strathclyde Police and Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and provided a backup service for Northern Constabulary.  The remaining five forces each retained their own fingerprint bureau.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

1991

Date

Event/Incident

Source

1991

Automatic Fingerprint Recognition (AFR) was introduced.  It was initially introduced at SCRO in Glasgow and later in Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

1995

Date

Event/Incident

Source

1995

Publication of the “Evett and Williams Report”.

In 1988, Ian Evett and Ray Williams, were commissioned by the Home Office to conduct a review of the 16 point standard for fingerprint identification in England and Wales. The report concluded that there was no statistical or logical justification for 16 points.

“A Review of the 16 Point Standard” - Evett and Williams

1996

Date

Event/Incident

Source

1996

SAGEM Charting PC purchased at a cost of £30,000 to assist the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau in the preparation of visual aids for court presentation purposes.

HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000.

1996

Then Head of the SCRO, Hugh Ferry, raised concerns over impending difficulties within the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau concerning resources, which required urgent resolution to prevent a serious reduction in the quality of service provided by the Bureau.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

ACPOS Presidential Review Group – Change Management Review Team – Scrutiny Report

1997

Date

Event/Incident

Source

8 January 1997

Marion Ross was found murdered in her home at 43 Irvine Road, Kilmarnock. Her body was found beneath a doorframe going into the bathroom from the hall.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson

January 1997

Mark XF was developed on a Christmas tag from the crime scene.   The mark was identified as belonging to David Asbury.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson

16 January 1997

Mark Y7, which was later identified as Shirley McKie’s left thumbprint, was sent to the SCRO for elimination purposes.

Shirley McKie v Scottish Ministers – Closed Record

22 January 1997

David Asbury was arrested.  A biscuit tin containing money was recovered from his home.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee from Digby Brown Solicitors

31 January 1997

SCRO fingerprint officers identified mark QI2 on the biscuit tin having been made by Marion Ross.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee from Digby Brown Solicitors

February 1997

Alister Geddes and Robert Mackenzie visited Kilmarnock Police Station in order to obtain the list of police officers with legitimate access to the locus of the crime scene.  Shirley McKie’s name was on that list.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson.

6 February 1997

SCRO requested ten prints from Shirley McKie as they were not held in Police records.

Shirley McKie v Scottish Ministers – Closed Record

10 February 1997

Hugh Macpherson was the first SCRO fingerprint expert to identify mark Y7 as belonging to Shirley McKie.  He decided to apply the 16 point standard due to the proximity of the mark to the body at the locus.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson

Shirley McKie v Scottish Ministers – Closed Record

11 February 1997

Alister Geddes was the first expert asked to verify Hugh Macpherson’s findings in relation to mark Y7. He eliminated it, however, he was unable to meet the 16 point standard, finding only 10 points of similarity.  Hugh Macpherson sought to find other experts who could find 16 points in sequence and agreement.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson

Shirley McKie v Scottish Ministers – Closed Record

11 February 1997

Charles Stewart, Fiona McBride and Anthony McKenna checked mark Y7 and verified Hugh Macpherson’s identification, finding 16 points of similarity. The identification was telephoned to the incident room.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Hugh Macpherson

11 February 1997

The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) was notified of the elimination of mark Y7 to Shirley McKie.

Shirley McKie v Scottish Ministers – Closed Record

11 February 1997

The SIO requested a statement from Shirley McKie with regard to her presence at the scene of the crime.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Digby Brown

11 February 1997

Shirley McKie was told of the identification. She denied having ever been in the murder house. 

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

17 February 1997

The Deputy Divisional Commander at Kilmarnock contacted William O’Neill, then Head of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau, to ask him to have mark Y7 re-examined in the presence of Shirley McKie.  Mr O’Neill was told that Iain McKie was with the Deputy Divisional Commander at the time of the call. 

William O’Neill suggested that the Deputy Divisional Commander ‘pulled rank’ on him and he reluctantly agreed to have the mark re-examined in the presence of Shirley McKie.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by William O’Neill

17 February 1997

Robert Mackenzie examined mark Y7 and confirmed that it was a match for the left thumbprint of Shirley McKie.

Justice 1 submissions - Precognition of Robert Mackenzie

17 February 1997

Alan Dunbar in his capacity as Quality Assurance officer was asked by William O’Neill to re-examine mark Y7 which had already been eliminated.  He too eliminated the mark as the left thumbprint of Shirley McKie.

Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006 Column 3554

17 February 1997

William O’Neill instructed Alan Dunbar to set up what has been termed a ‘blind test’ or ‘blind trial’.

Official Report  of the Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006 Column 3554

Date

Event/Incident

Source

17 February 1997

Alan Dunbar asked the late shift experts on 17 February to undertake the blind test.  Experts Greg Padden, Jean McClure, Terry Foley and Edward Bruce took part in the blind test.  Edward Bruce and Terry Foley eliminated mark Y7 as having been made by the left thumb of Shirley McKie.  Greg Padden and Jean McClure were unable to eliminate the mark.

Precognition of Robert Mackenzie and Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Digby Brown Solicitors

Written evidence from Greg Padden and Jean McLure

18 February 1997

Further to William O’Neill’s contact with the Deputy Divisional Commander at Kilmarnock on 17 February, Hugh Ferry intervened, and contacted the Deputy Divisional Commander.  Mr Ferry agreed to have the mark reviewed but not in the presence of Shirley McKie.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by William O’Neill

18 February 1997

Robert Mackenzie was summoned to Hugh Ferry’s office regarding mark Y7.  In his written submission, Robert Mackenzie suggested that Hugh Ferry was agitated and threatening.  Hugh Ferry made clear to him that Ms McKie’s career was at stake.

Precognition of Robert Mackenzie

18 February 1997

Mark Y7 was re photographed and a new set of elimination prints were taken.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Digby Brown Solicitors

18 February 1997

Robert Mackenzie and Alan Dunbar were asked to re-examine mark Y7 with the new set of ten prints and the new photograph of mark Y7.

Official Report  of the Justice 1 Committee, 26 June 2006 Column 3554

18 February 1997

Robert Mackenzie confirmed to Hugh Ferry by telephone that Y7 matched Shirley McKie’s left thumbprint. A comparison was made to eliminate the mark, but not to the 16 point standard.

Precognition of Robert Mackenzie

April 1997

Electronic capture of fingerprint impressions through Livescan, a national system which allowed an individual’s fingerprints to be captured by optical and electronic scanning, was introduced to all forces in Scotland.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

May 1997

SCRO Controlling Committee established the Scottish Fingerprint Service Working Group, led by then Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary, Mr John Hamilton, to examine, among other things, the potential impact of Automatic Fingerprint Recognition (AFR), Livescan and other technical developments on fingerprint services in Scotland, and to make appropriate recommendations for the future.

HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000.

1 May 1997

Malcolm Graham was instructed by Mackintosh and Wylie solicitors to examine fingerprint productions in connection with the case against David Asbury, and provide a report.

Malcolm Graham examined books of photographs of fingerprints and joint forensic reports relating to the fingerprint identifications, including mark Y7, at the request of Ms Lesley Dowdalls, Mr Asbury’s solicitor.

Malcolm Graham concluded that the mark was the fragment of the tip of a left thumb and compared it with the fingerprints of Shirley McKie (Cardwell) and agreed with the identification.  He was also asked to determine whether or not it could have been transferred from the biscuit tin found at Mr Asbury’s house.  He was convinced that it was not transferred from there to the doorframe.

Report on the examination of fingerprints. Malcolm Graham.  17 May 1997 (as submitted by Digby Brown solicitors).

12 May 1997

David Asbury was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Marion Ross.  At David Asbury’s trial, fingerprint experts from SCRO gave evidence that mark Y7 had been eliminated as that of Shirley McKie.  Shirley McKie, in her evidence, stated that she had not been inside the house beyond the front porch and could not therefore have left her fingerprint where it was said to have been found.

Following the murder trial there was an investigation on the basis that Shirley McKie may have given perjured evidence.  She was later arrested and charged with perjury based on her denial that she was inside the house while the fingerprint evidence gave conclusive probative evidence that she had.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

1998

Date

Event/Incident

Source

March 1998

Scottish Fingerprint Service Working Group reported.  It identified that major restructuring of Scottish fingerprint services was required.

It recommended an implementation strategy to launch the next stage of the development of fingerprint services in Scotland.  Independent consultants, Leishman Management Consulting, were contracted to undertake a two stage process to carry out this work.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

16 March 1998

Home Office Research and Development Branch (Mr Terry Kent) received original door standard from 43 Irvine Road, Kilmarnock, for specialist photography.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by David Russell 26 June 2006.

May 1998

Peter Swann met Shirley and Ian McKie.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –made by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

13 May 1998

Mark Y7 was examined by Home Office expert Mr Terry Kent. Mr Kent produced a report on his findings and declared that it was not a ‘plant’ or a ‘forgery’.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by David Russell 26 June 2006

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

12 May 1998

Peter Swann retained as Ms McKie’s defence fingerprint expert

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –made by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann

November 1998

Harry Bell appointed Director of SCRO

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Harry Bell

December 1998

Leishman Management Consulting concluded stage 1 of the process. They found consideration had not been given to the staffing implications of the introduction of new technology and that SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was unable to cope with its workload. It was recommended that methods were developed to enable the Bureau to cope with its workload.

ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report

1999

Date

Event/Incident

Source

2 March 1999

Peter Swann attended offices of Levy and Macrae (solicitors to Shirley McKie) in Glasgow.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

2 March 1999

At the High Court of Judiciary in Glasgow, Peter Swann examined the door standard, an actual size photograph of mark Y7, and other exhibits connected with the case.

Mr Swann confirmed to Donald Findlay QC that the mark was genuine and matched Shirley McKie.  Donald Findlay terminated the meeting.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee – made by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

3 March 1999

Levy and MacRae provided an original left thumbprint of Shirley McKie to Peter Swann.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

16 March 1999

Peter Swann wrote to Levy and MacRae providing them with two fingerprint reports each dated 16 March 1999.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

March 1999

Mark Y7 was examined by defence fingerprint experts Pat Wertheim and David Grieve.

David Grieve and Pat Wertheim were both of the view that mark Y7 was not made by Shirley McKie.

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

21 April 1999

Shirley McKie’s trial for perjury commenced at the High Court in Glasgow.

Opinion of Lord Wheatley, Court of Session, 24 December 2003, McKie v The Strathclyde Joint Police Board and Others

11 May 1999

Pat Wertheim and David Grieve gave evidence for the defence at the trial of Shirley McKie.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee – by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

14 May 1999

Shirley McKie was found not guilty of perjury by a unanimous verdict.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

Court of Session Opinion, 24 December 2003.

May 1999

Following the not guilty verdict, Harry Bell directed Robert Mackenzie to re-examine mark Y7.  Robert Mackenzie re-confirmed his opinion that mark Y7 was a match for the left thumbprint of Shirley McKie.

Written submission to Justice 1 by Harry Bell

20 May 1999

At the instigation of Mr Bell, a meeting took place at SCRO with the Deputy Crown Agent and prosecuting Advocate in Shirley McKie’s perjury trial.  The prosecuting Advocate commented that nothing in the McKie case affected the legal framework surrounding fingerprint evidence.  The Crown was satisfied with the evidence of the SCRO officers. Concern was, however, raised about the projection facilities used in the court.

Following the meeting at SCRO Mr Bell wrote to all Chief Constables in Scotland and HMIC outlining the actions he had taken and the opinion of the Crown.

Written submission to Justice 1 by Harry Bell

June 1999

Leishman Management Consulting completed the second stage of their work. They concluded that there was a need for a more modern structure of accountable management to enable the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau to develop and respond to the needs of those it served.

ACPOS Presidential Review Group – CMRT scrutiny report

November 1999

The first meeting of the 8 Force Standard Working Group (8FSWG) was convened by John Hamilton, Chief Constable, Fife Constabulary

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

December 1999

BBC Scotland engaged four English experts (Ron Cook, Frank Reed, Frank Williams and Ray Broadstock) to independently examine the ‘Shirley McKie mark’.  They unanimously concluded that, ‘the mark was not made by Shirley McKie’.

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by Shelly Jofre

2000

Date

Event/Incident

Source

January 2000

14 Lothian and Borders Experts wrote to the Justice Minster and Lord Hardie to highlight their concerns about the identification of mark Y7.  They stated that: “At best the apparent ‘misidentification’ is a display of gross incompetence by not one but several experts within the bureau.  At worst it bears all the hallmarks of a conspiracy of a nature unparalleled in the history of fingerprints.”  Their conclusions were based on the material used by Pat Wertheim, which one of the Edinburgh experts sourced from him.

Official Report of the Justice 1 Committee 7 June 2006, c 3397

18 January 2000

BBC Frontline Scotland programme on the misidentification of Shirley McKie’s mark was broadcast.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

7 February 2000

ACPOS Council meeting was held at which chief constables discussed the furore surrounding the identification of mark Y7.

Official Report of the Justice 1 Committee, 20 June 2006, c 3434

7 February 2000

SCRO Executive Committee meeting was held.  At this meeting it was decided that HMIC should be asked to commission an independent assessment of mark Y7.

Official Report of the Justice 1 Committee, 20 June 2006, c 3434

23 February 2000

William Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, agreed to bring forward the formal inspection of SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

24 February 2000

The Minister for Justice, Jim Wallace, stated in response to a written parliamentary question that the terms of reference for a review by HMIC of the standards and quality of work within the Fingerprint Section of the Scottish Criminal Record Office would be announced shortly and that the review would cover the case of Shirley McKie.

Response to question S1O-1189 - Allan Wilson (Cunninghame North) (Lab)

April 2000

Following discussions with the SCRO Executive Committee, the Crown and the Scottish Executive, HMIC agreed that the primary inspection of SCRO planned for December 2000 would be brought forward but only in respect of the Fingerprint Bureau.  The McKie case would be examined with a number of others (24 in total) with a view to informing HMIC about the efficacy of the processes involved in making an elimination or identification and the subsequent presentation of evidence in court.  In addition HMIC would arrange and oversee a further examination of the disputed identification by experts not previously involved with the case.

HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000

30 May 2000

Use of charting PC suspended in SCRO.  The purpose of this PC, which was first introduced in 1996, was to assist in the presentation of fingerprint evidence for court purposes.  However, the images it produced were not considered to be sharp enough and it was removed from operation.

HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000

June 2000

Two independent international experts, Arie Zeelenberg and Torger Rudrud, asked by HM Chief Inspector Of Constabulary to examine mark Y7 stated that the mark was not made by Shirley McKie and, ‘that decision could have been reached at an early point in the comparison processes.’ 

HMIC Primary Inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau 2000

21 June 2000

William Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, met with key stakeholders, including ACPOS office bearers, and outlined his emerging findings. 

Official Report of the Justice 1 Committee, 6 September 2006, c 3635

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

21 June 2000

ACPOS established a Presidential review group (APRG) in response to the HMIC emerging findings.

Scottish Parliament Official Report 22 June 2000

22 June 2000

Before a public announcement was made on the emerging findings, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s lead staff officer made a courtesy call to the McKies to advise them of the findings.

Justice 1  Committee Official Report 6 September 2006 c 3635

22 June 2000

William Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, publicly announced his emerging findings following the inspection of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau.

Scottish Parliament Official Report, 22 June 2000

22 June 2000

The Minister for Justice, Jim Wallace, and the Lord Advocate responded to HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s findings in the Scottish Parliament.  The Minister also apologised to Shirley McKie for the suffering she had endured.

In the course of this response, the Minister for Justice informed the Parliament that the Inspection had concluded that the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau was ‘not fully efficient and effective’.

Scottish Parliament Official Report 22 June 2000

22 June 2000

The Lord Advocate directed that all current and future SCRO identifications should be independently checked (this requirement lasted 13 months). 

A total of 2,246 cases were examinedand the identification of 6,894 marks containing 10,449 impressions were verified.  In each case the accuracy of the verification was confirmed.

Written submission from Hugh McPherson to Justice 1 Committee.

Scottish Parliament Official Report 22 June 2000

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS

3 July 2000

The ACPOS Presidential Review Group subsequently established two teams. Mr Kenny McInnes, then Deputy Chief Constable, Fife Constabulary, was appointed to lead an ACPOS Change Management Review Team in undertaking a 90-day scrutiny of SCRO, while Mr James Mackay, then Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police, was appointed to lead the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the fingerprint identification.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

6 July 2000

The Lord Advocate instructed Mr William Gilchrist, then Regional Procurator Fiscal for North Strathclyde, to inquire into allegations of criminal conduct made by Shirley McKie’s father to the Minister for Justice in a letter of 26 June.

DCC James Mackay, already undertaking an investigation on behalf of ACPOS in terms of the identification of mark Y7, supported William Gilchrist in his inquiries.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

Correspondence from Mr McKie to the Minister for Justice 26 June 2000 c. 3585

13 July 2000

Malcolm Graham wrote to Iain McKie stating he ‘had made a terrible mistake’ in terms of the identification of mark Y7. He later retracted this apology and re-asserted his initial contention that mark Y7 was a match for Shirley McKie’s left thumbprint.

Written submission to the Justice 1 Committee by Digby Brown

Official Report Justice 1 Committee 26 June

3 August 2000

SCRO Executive Committee decided to suspend Hugh Macpherson, Charles Stewart, Fiona McBride and Anthony McKenna, on a precautionary basis

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

3 August 2000

A retrospective examination of historical cases involving Hugh Macpherson, Charles Stewart, Anthony McKenna and Fiona McBride was commenced.  No errors were found.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

15 August 2000

Presentations were given at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan by Robert Mackenzie and Alan Dunbar from the SCRO and Arie Zeelenberg and Torger Rudrud who were invited by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary to consider mark Y7 as part of his inspection.

Neither side accepted the other’s conclusions.

Both James Mackay and William Gilchrist attended the event as observers.

Notes of ACPOS Facilitated meeting at Tulliallan

22 August 2000

David Asbury was granted interim liberation by the Court of Criminal Appeal pending a full appeal in respect of his conviction of the murder of Marion Ross.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

September 2000

Alan Dunbar and Robert Mackenzie were put on non-operational duties.

Strathclyde Police Joint Board Scrutiny Committee Investigation Report – ‘The Black Report’


14 September 2000

The HMIC report of the SCRO Fingerprint Bureau Primary Inspection was published.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

14 September 2000

Sir William Rae, then Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway and President of ACPOS, met the McKie family and personally apologised for the trauma and distress.

Official Report Justice 1 Committee 20 June 2006

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

October 2000

‘The Mackay Report’ was submitted to William Gilchrist, the Regional Procurator Fiscal for North Strathclyde.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

October 2000

The ACPOS Change Management Review Team published its report building on the conclusions of HMIC.

ACPOS Change Management Review Team report.

December 2000

HMIC conducted a primary inspection of SCRO as a whole.  

HMIC SCRO 2000 Primary Inspection

December 2000

SCRO Fingerprint Bureau achieved ISO 9002 certification.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

2001

Date

Event/Incident

Source

April 2001

Head of the Scottish Fingerprint Service (SFS), Ewan Innes, appointed to lead the work to establish the SFS based on four regional bureaux.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

24 May 2001

HMIC published report of the Scottish Criminal Record Office 2000 Primary Inspection.  HMIC noted, in particular, the action taken in response to the recommendations made following the inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau.  Taking into account the performance of SCRO as a whole, HMIC considered SCRO to be efficient and effective.

HMIC SCRO 2000 Primary Inspection

13 June 2001

William Gilchrist, wrote to Peter Swann notifying him of his investigation.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –made by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

16 June 2001

Peter Swann met Mr Gilchrist at the Academy of Experts in London.

Mr Gilchrist showed Peter Swann additional material and photographs and copies of reports prepared by fingerprint experts from Holland, Norway and Durham Training School.

Peter Swann considered the material produced by Durham and Pat Wertheim as ‘totally flawed’.

Written submissions to Justice 1 Committee –made by David Russell on behalf of Peter Swann.

6 July 2001

Lord Advocate withdrew need for independent verification of SCRO fingerprint evidence.

Response to question S1W-16832 Irene Oldfather (Cunninghame South) (Lab).

7 September 2001

The Lord Advocate confirmed that no criminal proceedings were to be taken against the four SCRO fingerprint officers.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

6 November 2001

Proceedings against Scottish Ministers were served on behalf of Shirley McKie

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

13 December 2001

HMIC published Second Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection 2000.  The review was focussed on the SCRO Primary Inspection, and did not consider the Primary Inspection of the Fingerprint Bureau.

HMIC Second Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection of 2000

2002

Date

Event/Incident

Source

Early 2002

Work was completed on the establishment of the SFS.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

14 February 2002

Shirley McKie’s action against the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police on the manner of her arrest was dismissed (appeal was also dismissed on 28 February 2003).

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

19 February 2002

The Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, in a speech to the Howard League stated, ‘The BBC Frontline Scotland programme on the case of Shirley McKie ….. helped uncover what were at best serious defects in the analysis of fingerprinting at the Scottish Criminal Record Office and forced the authorities including myself, to act to ensure that such a case would not happen again’.

Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 12 September 2006

28 February 2002

Strathclyde Joint Police Board (employers of the fingerprint officers) instructed James Black to carry out an independent investigation to consider whether any disciplinary action should be taken against either the four SCRO officers currently suspended or the two officers on non-operational duties.  On 28 February 2002 James Black reported that, in his opinion, no disciplinary action should be taken and all six officers should be returned to normal duties.

Strathclyde Police Joint Board Scrutiny Committee Investigation Report – ‘The Black Report’

20 March 2002

On 20 March 2002, Strathclyde Joint Police Board convened a disciplinary committee, to consider the findings of James Black. The Committee, chaired by Doris Littlejohn, concurred with James Black’s findings.  All six officers were reinstated.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

14 August 2002

David Asbury’s conviction was quashed.  The Crown did not oppose the appeal.

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

18 September 2002

Petition to the Scottish Parliament by four fingerprint experts (Allan Bayle, David Grieve, Arie Zeelenberg and Pat Wertheim) which sought an enquiry of Openness and Accountability within SCRO.  No action was taken on the petition.

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 by Iain McKie

Website of the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee

2003

Date

Event/Incident

Source

April 2003

Fingerprinting in Scotland was restructured on a four bureaux model under the auspices of the Scottish Fingerprint Service.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

22 May 2003

HMIC published Third Year Review of the SCRO Primary Inspection 2000.  HMIC concluded that it was “satisfied that all the outstanding recommendations are being addressed and that considerable progress has been made.  However HMIC would wish to see the impact of ongoing developments before finally discharging.”

HMIC Third Year Review of SCRO Primary Inspection of 2000

24 December 2003

Lord Wheatley allowed Shirley McKie’s civil action against the SCRO and Scottish Ministers to go to proof.

Written submission to Justice Committee 1 Minister for Justice

2004

Date

Event/Incident

Source

April 2004

New governance arrangements were put in place for SCRO with the development of a formal national structure for common police services.

Written submission to Justice 1 Committee by ACPOS.

July 2004

The Scottish Executive received a report it had commissioned from John MacLeod on mark Y7.  The report had been commissioned to inform its defence in the case brought against it by Shirley McKie.

John MacLeod’s first report to the Scottish Executive on mark Y7

2005

Date Event/Incident Source

17 March 2005

HMIC published its Primary Inspection report of 2004.  The report concluded that the SCRO was efficient and effective, however, recommended further integration within the SFS.

HMIC SCRO 2004 Primary Inspection

1 June 2005

Shirley McKie served formal notice on Scottish Ministers calling on them to admit that Y7 was not her mark.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

30 June 2005

Scottish Executive wrote to Shirley McKie indicating its willingness to explore settlement of the civil action before proof.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

13 September 2005

Shirley McKie’s solicitors amended her claim to £1.2 million plus interest, with intimation of Minute of Amendment.

Correspondence from the Scottish Executive, 8 November 2006

30 September 2005

Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament which proposed new governance arrangements for Scottish Fingerprint Service, namely that it would come under the management of a national forensic science service.

Scottish Parliament Website

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/bills/46-policePublic/index.htm

October 2005

The Scottish Executive received a second report it had commissioned from John MacLeod on mark Y7.  Mr MacLeod had been asked to comment further on each of the ridge characteristics on which the SCRO relied to support their identification of markY7.

John MacLeod’s second report to the Scottish Executive on mark Y7

2006

Date Event/Incident Source

30 January 2006

The Scottish Executive received a report it had commissioned from Michael Pass on fingerprint QD2, to inform its defence in the case brought against it by Shirley McKie.

Michael Pass’ report to the Scottish Executive on mark QD2

7 February 2006

The Scottish Executive settled the action brought by Shirley McKie for £750,000 on the basis that while there had been a misidentification of mark Y7, there had been no malicious intent on the part of the SCRO officers.

Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 12 September 2006 c 3710

9 February 2006

First Minister Jack McConnell stated that the identification of the ‘McKie print’ was an ‘honest mistake’.

Official Report, 9 February 2006

2 March 2006

Parliament debated the Shirley McKie case.

Official Report, 2 March 2006

8 March 2006

Scottish Parliament decided against a public inquiry.

Official Report, 8 March 2006

9 March 2006

First Minister answered questions on the settlement in Parliament.

Official Report, 9 March 2006

21 April 2006

Action Plan for Excellence published by David Mulhern, Interim Chief Executive, Scottish Police Services Authority.

Scottish Fingerprint Service website

26 April 2006

Parliamentary Inquiry by Justice 1 Committee commenced.

Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 26 April 2006

4 September 2006

Non-numeric standard for fingerprint examinations was introduced

Letter from David Mulhern, Interim Chief Executive, SPSA

15 December 2006

HMIC published the report of the Eighteen Month Review Inspection of SCRO.

HMIC SCRO 18 Month Review Inspection 2006



Footnotes:

1 Lord Boyd of Duncansby, former Lord Advocate, written submission, available in volume 2 of this report

2 The Criminal Appeal Court made the following Order: "In the Continued Procedural Hearing in the Appeal against Conviction, having heard senior counsel for the appellant and the Advocate Depute, the Court being advised that the Crown could no longer support the conviction Sustained the Appeal and Quashed the conviction; further the Court was advised by the Advocate Depute that no retrial was sought, and Decerned."

3 Official Report, 22 February 2006, c 23347

4 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 12 September 2006, c 3709

5 Official Report, 9 February 2006, c 23255

6 Official Report, 9 February 2006, c 23347

7 Motion S2M-4039

8 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 12 September 2006, c 3688

9 Official Report, Justice 1 Committee, 12 September 2006, c 3700

10 Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 7.5

11 Motion S2M-04486

12 Correspondence from the Minister for Justice, 16 June 2006

13 Motion S2M-04485

14 Justice 1 Committee, 5th Report, 2006 (Session 2) – Written Evidence received on Scottish Criminal Record Office inquiry (SP Paper 558), available online at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/justice1/reports-06/j1r06-05-00.htm

16 Hugh Ferry died on 26 January 2007.

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