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DNA Inquiry Findings Expected In December

MediaStatement By
Tony Ryall
Minister of Justice

11 October 1999

DNA Inquiry Findings Expected In December

Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, said today that he has agreed to a written request from former Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, to extend the report back date on a Ministerial inquiry into DNA evidence, currently being conducted by Sir Thomas and Royal Society President, Professor Sir John Scott. The new expected report back date is 30 November 1999.

In late May, the Justice Minister 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. In June the Minister appointed Sir Thomas and Sir John to conduct the inquiry.

“Both the Police and scientists at the ESR laboratory have already made an intensive and thorough investigation into the facts of this incident. Nevertheless I concluded that an independent inquiry was justified taking into account the importance of DNA profiling in many criminal trials,” said Mr Ryall.

"There is nothing to suggest that there is a widespread problem. However, if we can improve the process in any way we should do so.

"When announcing the inquiry in late May I said that I expected the inquiry to take around two months.

“Sir Thomas has indicated that the inquiry now wishes to have further analysis of DNA samples done and that this is the primary reason for the extension.

“A separate report on ESR's reporting protocols in cases where DNA results are unclear is also being conducted by the Ministry of Justice.

“This report has been progressing well. However, because there may be aspects of the Eichelbaum Scott inquiry relevant to the Justice Ministry’s report, the Ministry will defer finalising its findings until the findings of the Eichelbaum Scott inquiry are known,” said Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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