Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The McKie case: FBI launch investigation

The FBI are to launch an investigation into allegations that some of its agents intimidated forensic experts into suppressing their doubts about the Shirley McKie case:
"Juval Aviv, Pan Am's Lockerbie investigator, (alleged) that members of the Scottish Criminal Records Office, who had misgivings over the McKie evidence, were visited by FBI agents in 1999 or 2000 and pressured to "fall in line with the evidence" against Ms McKie.

In another allegation, a fingerprint expert for the Illinois state police, Dave Grieve, said an FBI official pulled him aside at a forensics conference in 1999 and told him not to speak out about the McKie case. At the time, Mr Grieve was the editor of an international forensics journal and was planning an editorial criticising the SCRO, which had incorrectly identified the fingerprint of Ms McKie at a murder scene.

Another US forensic expert who spoke out about faults in the SCRO's investigation, Pat Wertheim, has said he was pulled aside by an FBI agent at the same conference in 1999 and warned to keep quiet about the case, although Lockerbie was not mentioned."
What is at stake here is not the infallibility of fingerprint evidence (or more accurately, the fingerprint expert) but rather the more modest claim that forensic science can, based on the proposition that no two human fingerprints are identical, demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt when two fingerprints could not have came from the same person. This is what vindicated Shirley McKie and an account for the original mistake - if indeed it was a mistake - remains outstanding.

It's a source of international embarrassment that Scotland's Executive can't seem to put their own house in order in this matter.

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