Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Release Of Report Into DNA Evidence

Media Statement By
Tony Ryall
Minister of Justice

26 June 1999

Release Of Report Into DNA Evidence

Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, today announced he has directed the Ministry of Justice to report on ESR's reporting protocols in cases where DNA results are unclear.

Mr Ryall's announcement follows a report by the Ministry of Justice on the reporting of DNA results in a 1996 rape of a teenager which was allegedly committed by convicted murderer, Peter Howse.

In 1996, Peter Howse was acquitted of all charges relating to the alleged rape of the teenager following evidence given by an ESR analyst at the trial that Howse could not have been the source of semen found on the girl's underpants. However, retesting conducted earlier this year indicates that Howse was the most likely source of that seminal material.

A Ministerial Inquiry is currently being conducted by former Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum and Royal Society President, Professor Sir John Scott, into a separate incident involving DNA evidence.

"This Ministerial Inquiry deals with a conceptually quite different issue. It concerns the factual basis for apparent contamination of DNA samples in a particular case.

"The Howse case, on the other hand, does not involve any factual problems and is more about improvements in DNA profiling technology and the protocols applied by ESR to interpret unclear DNA results.

"Given that taking up the issues arising from the Howse case would delay the report on the contamination issue, I believe it is more appropriate to work separately on the question of ESR reporting protocols.

"Accordingly, I have asked the Ministry of Justice to report back to me on the appropriateness of ESR protocols within the same timeframe as the Ministerial Inquiry.

"The Ministry's report notes that there are several explanations for the variation in the results. The most significant is the quantum shift in DNA profiling technology meaning that the subsequent tests were conducted using a far more sensitive and discriminating technique.

"The report also notes that recent developments such as the introduction of more advanced semi-automated processes, which reduce the scope for subjectivity in the interpretation of results, mean that it is less likely that the same problems would arise again.

"Further, the report notes that the reporting of the results in the Howse case followed ESR's conservative philosophy that "if the results of a particular test are unclear then the benefit of the doubt is given to the defendant. In hindsight, given the uncertainty, it may have been more appropriate for ESR to have reported the results were "inconclusive""".

"However, there may be a need to establish clearer guidelines for ESR analysts in cases where DNA test results require a 'judgment-call' because the results are unclear.

"This will be the key issue addressed in the further work I have asked the Ministry to conduct", Mr Ryall concluded.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Jami-Lee Ross (And The New Hobbit Law)

Clearly, Jami-Lee Ross is not waging a normal form of political warfare, with agreed rules of combat and rational cost/benefit calculations.

This is politics-as-terrorism where everything is being sacrificed by the man in the bomb vest in order to remove Simon Bridges as the leader of the National Party. More>>

Text Messages Released: National On $100,000 Donation(s)
The Botany Electorate of the National Party received 8 donations, and Mr Ross declared 8 donations to us. More>>


Three Killed: DOC Supporting Family, Colleagues After Helicopter Crash

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is rallying around family and colleagues of the staff who died in a helicopter crash this morning in Wanaka... The helicopter, with two DOC staff on board, was on its way to undertake tahr control in the Haast area when it crashed. More>>


Political Donations: Greens Call For Tighter Anonymity Rules And Public Funding

“It is clear that those vested interests have a tangible influence on the decision making of political parties. This is a threat to democracy and should change.” More>>


Education Amendment Bill Passes: Urgency Sought For Partnership School Treaty Claim

The claim takes issue with the acts and omissions of the Crown in respect of the closure of Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua. More>>


Salvation Army Paper: Call For Public Housing Investment

To meet these future demands the report suggests the government needs to look beyond the private rental market and begin to invest heavily into home-ownership programmes and more public and social housing. More>>


Cull: Himalayan Tahr Control Operation Proceeding

“The target of controlling 10,000 Himalayan tahr over the next eight months remains. The revised plan provides for a staged control operation with increased reporting to the Tahr Liaison Group...” More>>


Health: Petitions To Fund Breast Cancer Drugs

Women marching to Parliament today, to present two petitions calling for Government funding of vital medicines, have 100% support from a coalition representing than 30 breast cancer organisations. More>>


Animal Welfare Advisory Committee: Report On Rodeo Practices Released

The independent committee that advises the Minister responsible for Animal Welfare, has today released a report on animal welfare in rodeos, together with advice to the Minister making recommendations to improve the welfare of the animals in rodeos. More>>


PM's Press Conference: Fuel And Leaks

Other topics included the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the relation between the Government moves against high fuel prices and the commitment to act on climate change, NZTA's failures in compliance checks ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels