The media in Scotland today covered the Scottish Government apologies:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-g ... t-16843103
David, I appreciate your comments and fully understand your concerns regarding the on-going actions of the SPSA. On 1 April 2007 when the SPSA was set up they actually took over all liability for the previous actions of the SCRO.
I believe the SPSA has two further apologies to make. Firstly as Wullie points out, the apology that was publicly made to Shirley, similarly needs to be afforded to David Asbury.
I also believe the SPSA need to make an apology to the International Fingerprint Community for allowing their experts to seriously damage the reputation of the Science for the last 15 years.
Re your concerns that the SPSA are simply reacting in the way the previous SCRO did, I believe the International Fingerprint Community are in a far stronger position, not only to demand answers from the SPSA, but also to ensure that changes are being made.
Since the publication of the Report several things must have happened within the SPSA.
(1)The two experts, Foley and Geddes must have been asked if they accept they made two errors in the Marion Ross case.
(2) Irrespective of their responses they must have been suspended from all fingerprint duties on the 14 December 2011 until they had been re-trained and all their previous work has been independently peer reviewed. Only after this has occurred can they possibly resume fingerprint duties.
(3) If they failed to formally accept their mistakes then they needed to be officially dealt with under the SPSA Competency Procedure, and then the SPSA Disciplinary Procedure.
(4) Given the Inquiry reported two errors within the SPSA would have been duty bound to implement the Official Procedure which deals with erroneous ‘identifications’.
(5) The SPSA state on their website http://www.spsa.police.uk/
that they are ‘one of the world's only independently-accredited ‘crime scene to court' forensic services’. Given the Fingerprint Section must therefore be accredited, two mistakes would mean there must have been non-compliances, which again must have been formally investigated and reported in line with any such accreditation.
(6) The SPSA holds the fingerprint evidence in the Marion Ross case. Now we know there are two errors in this one case, it cannot wait for the Lord Advocate or the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police to order a re-examination of the fingerprint evidence. Two errors in one case that has never ever been peer reviewed must give serious cause for concern within the SPSA and allow them to carry our their own re-examinations of the evidence.
(7) The use of the prints in training with-in the SPSA. Initially I had concerns the SPSA might not want to use the images in re-training but have been heartened when I re-read the evidence of the Scottish Training Officer of the SPSA, Alex McGinnies at the Inquiry. He was asked about using the prints in training http://www.thefingerprintinquiryscotlan ... script.pdf
…The other thing I wanted to ask is would it not be a very useful training model not just Y7 and the inked print to look at it and then try and work out what happened, but also the methods of presentation, the difference between how the Americans presented the evidence, is it not something that is a very useful database for training purposes for, frankly, interest's sake within the SPSA? Would you agree with that comment?
Mr McGinnies answered:
I certainly would and we do use the Mayfield case. The Brandon Mayfield case has, if you like, a beginning a middle and an end. It has, as you say, a very quick turnaround on the report, the international experts and the recommendations. We use that to look back and look at the procedural breakdowns. I'm hoping that when the case is resolved that I will be able to use that as a training aid, yes.
The Scottish Training Officer clearly stating agrees that Y7 should be used in training and was hoping he could use them as a training aid when the Inquiry resolved the issue over identification.
I believe that every Fingerprint Agency anywhere in the world has the right to challenge the SPSA over how it has dealt with the Inquiry Report. Also I believe they should be asking the SPSA to share with them their new training packages which Mr McGinnies will have prepared in light of the Inquiry Report.
The SPSA needs to be in a position to share the lessons with their colleagues and peers. What cannot happen is for a wall of silence or secrecy to be allowed to cover the SPSA.
I notice Michlle Triplett updated her Fingerprint Dictionary on 25 January 2012. However I cannot see any updates reflecting the findings of the recent Fingerprint Inquiry.
Shirley McKie - 1997
In 1997, Shirley McKie, a detective with the Strathclyde Police in Scotland,
was charged with perjury after denying that she had left a fingerprint at the
murder scene of Marion Ross. David Asbury was convicted of this murder based
on other fingerprint evidence. Later both charges were overturned while the SCRO,
who performed the fingerprint analysis, stood by their identifications. On February 7, 2006,
just prior to Shirley McKie’s civil hearing, The Scottish Ministers settled out of court for the
full amount Ms. McKie was suing for, while not admitting to any errors.
Over 10 years after the murder the identifications were still under dispute and a resolution
seemed impossible. In April 2007, the examiners involved in this case were asked to resign.
4 of the 6 examiners (Robert McKenzie, Allan Dunbar, Hugh McPherson and Charlie Stewart)
took a redundancy package. One examiner, Tony McKenna, agreed to be redeployed to
Strathclyde Police. Fiona McBride refused to accept another job at 1/3 of her salary and
was fired on May 1, 2007. Fiona McBride is pursuing legal action.
Similarly I see no updates on the profiles of Martin Leadbetter with reference to his errors:
Leadbetter, Martin FFS, RFP, Bachelor of Arts + Honours
Martin Leadbetter was employed within the Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland
Yard from 1966/72. During this period he was also responsible for attending
crime scenes in Central London as a Divisional Fingerprint Officer. Having
qualified as a Fingerprint Expert in 1972, he transferred to the Gloucestershire
Constabulary where he remained employed for just over two years, after which he
took up the post of Deputy Head of the Fingerprint Bureau for Hertfordshire
Constabulary, just north of London.
In 1988 he was seconded to the Home Office as part of the team investigating
implementation of a national AFIS for England and Wales. This secondment lasted
until 1991 and during this time he assisted in the writing of the Detailed
Operation Requirement for a national AFIS and made several visits with the bench-
marking team to the USA and France where systems produced by Printrak, NEC, Morpho
Systèmes (now Sagem) and ISS were all tested.
From January 1991/August 1995 he was employed by Sagem SA as Fingerprint Expert
and Consultant. During this period he visited the police departments of more than
thirty countries worldwide, including two visits to Siberia, South American countries,
South Africa, numerous visits to the USA, Russia and most European countries.
In September 1995 he took up his present post as Head of the Fingerprint Bureau for
Cambridgeshire Constabulary, based in the East Anglian region of the UK.
He has been a member of IAI since 1978, a Distinguished Member since 1988 and achieved
Life Membership in 2003. He is a Founder, Fellow and Life Member of The Fingerprint
Society and was its first Secretary and Assistant Editor of the Society's journal,
Fingerprint Whorld for just on fifteen years. Today, Mr. Leadbetter is a serving
member of The Fingerprint Society Committee. Recently, he has acted in a consultative
position in Bosnia, assisting the European Union Police to implement a national AFIS
for that country. He has addressed several conferences, both at home and abroad, in
particular at the Humboldt University, East Berlin, Surgut, Siberia and most recently,
in October 2004 at the Centenary Conference in Budapest, which celebrated the first
hundred years of the fingerprint system in Hungary.
At home he is now very active holding several important national posts. He is a member
of the National Fingerprint Board of England and Wales, Chairman of the Bureau
Practitioners' Sub-Group and a member of the Standards Working Group. Until recently
he chaired the Third Level Detail Sub-Group, which had been instigated by the
Association of Chief Police Officers to investigate the potential use of so-called
'third level detail' within the identification process. He also sits on the IAI's
International Committee and is a member of the Journal of Forensic Identification's
He is a Registered Forensic Practitioner with the Council for the registration of Forensic
Practitioners and Member of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences and holds the degree
of Bachelor of Arts with Honours.
Throughout his long career within the fingerprint discipline he has been a constant
contributor to forensic and scientific journals. He strongly holds the view that
fingerprint identification is not a science, but a technique that requires
considerable skill, but is prepared to compromise and accept that it has a scientific,
albeit a rather nebulous 'scientific' basis.
In his spare time Martin Leadbetter enjoys gourmet cooking, wine and is a composer having
written three symphonies, numerous works for chamber and instrumental ensembles, more than
fifty songs, and works for choir, band and orchestra. He is also a Member of the
Corporation of the Royal Albert Hall, London. As an author he has just completed his first
full-length novel, Deep and Crisp and Evil, which gives an uncompromising insight into the
working of the modern police service and forensic discipline.
Martin Leadbetter retired from the Cambridgeshire Constabulary on Aug. 12, 2005. He
remains an active participant in the fingerprint industry.
Can I also suggest for accuracy of the Dictionary to include an entry for Peter Swann to include his two errors.
I believe this dictionary to be invaluable and should be seen as a record for the future, long after we are all departed and it is important that it is factually correct.