Numerous criminal convictions may be unsafe after forensic tests now considered unreliable.
New details have emerged about forensic testing deficiencies at two of the country’s leading laboratories. Police are currently investigating the circumstances, and a number of people have been arrested.
Randox Testing Services (RTS) and Trimega Laboratories handled samples for some of the most high-profile criminal and family law cases, the accuracy of the tests being of paramount importance in proving criminal prosecutions.
When the breach was discovered earlier this year, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said it had concerns that almost 500 criminal cases could be affected. However they have now accepted that data from approximately 10,000 forensic blood samples may have been manipulated by scientists at the two laboratories.
The cases affected includes hundreds of sex offences, murders offences of violence. In addition to child protection and family court cases.
Two former workers from the RTS laboratory in Manchester have been arrested and five others questioned under caution in connection with the alleged data manipulation.
Home Office Minister Nick Hurd told parliament:
‘Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences.’
He has further accepted that poor records keeping has made it impossible to know the true position.
RTS, on their website, has made the following statement:
“In early 2017, the forensic testing company RTS became a whistle-blower when it exposed evidence of alleged data manipulation. Almost one year on, it remains committed to ensuring the police investigation will succeed in bringing those responsible to justice and protecting the criminal justice system.”
RTS has made clear that in addition to self-reporting, no actual samples were affected. These are now being re-tested by the Police.
Trimerga went into administration in 2014. The two arrested men had joined RTS from Trimerga.
Bearing in mind the on-going criminal investigation, no motive has been made clear as to why the alleged rogue scientists would want to manipulate data.
If you have been convicted – Is your conviction safe?
If a conviction in your case rested wholly or partially on the reliability of forensic tests, it is essential that you seek further legal advice.
While the Crown Prosecution Service will be carrying out a review into criminal cases, this will take a considerable period of time, and many will question whether the body that brought the prosecution in the first place is ideally placed to make decisions as to the safety or otherwise of a conviction.
Those affected will, therefore, wish to consider whether any further forensic testing ought to take place, and even whether or not there are grounds to appeal. All convictions will need to be considered on a case by case basis.
Even if your cases did not involve the two laboratories currently under investigation, this scandal throws a spotlight on the hidden world of forensic testing and calls in to doubt results from other forensic testing providers.
If you have been convicted and the case against you involved a forensic test, we can look at your case for you and advise if there may be grounds to appeal, even if the time limit for an appeal has long passed.
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