Media Statement By
Minister of Justice
17 June, 1999
DNA Inquiry Terms Of Reference
Justice Minister, Tony Ryall today, announced that former Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and Royal Society President, Professor Sir John Scott, will conduct a ministerial inquiry into the identification of matching DNA profiles in certain samples relating to two homicide scenes in Wellington.
In late May, Mr Ryall announced that he would establish a ministerial inquiry into the circumstances which resulted in DNA material belonging to a person who was not involved in two separate criminal cases, being said to have been found at both scenes.
Mr Ryall reiterated his earlier comments saying that "both the Police and the scientists at the ESR laboratory have made an intensive and thorough investigation into the facts of this incident. Nevertheless I have concluded that an independent inquiry is justified taking into account the importance of DNA profiling in many criminal trials".
"There is nothing to suggest that a widespread problem affecting other cases has been identified but where human involvement in a process is involved there is always a possibility of error. If we can improve the process in any way we should do so", Mr Ryall said.
"The appointment of Sir Thomas and Sir John to conduct this inquiry indicates the high level of importance I place on this issue.
"I expect the inquiry will take around two months. However, given the nature of the inquiry I have not specified a deadline for the completion of the work", said Mr Ryall.
Mr Ryall also released the Terms of Reference for the inquiry (attached).