By Naomi Mills
A three year judicial inquiry into fingerprinting in Scotland finally came to a conclusion this afternoon.
Sir Anthony Campbell published the report based on the wrongful accusations of former police officer Shirley McKie.
McKie was accused of perjury in 1997 for a wrongly identified fingerprint of hers at a murder scene in Ayrshire.
The Scottish government established the public judicial enquiry in March 2008 to establish the procedures and handling of the HM Advocate v McKie case and to ensure future cases did fall victim to the same shortcomings.
Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, believes the report will only serve to enhance the quality of Scottish forensic services. He said: “This is a comprehensive and detailed report and I would like to thank Sir Anthony Campbell and his team for their dedicated work on the Fingerprint Inquiry.
“For well over a decade, the Shirley McKie case has cast a shadow of uncertainty and suspicion over the individuals involved and the wider Scottish criminal justice system.
“Though previous reviews had helped address some key issues, they had not resolved them all.
“This government was firmly of the view that as long as some matters remained unresolved, and public concern remained, that the right and proper action was to establish an independent public judicial inquiry into the case.
“Scotland’s Criminal Justice system is a cornerstone of our society, and it is paramount that there is total public confidence in it.
Mr MacAskill continued: “Though there is a lot to digest in Sir Anthony’s report, I believe that the Fingerprint Inquiry has brought to an end the many years of uncertainty surrounding the Shirley McKie case and has, I sincerely hope, brought welcome closure to those involved.
“We should all recognise that there have been significant advances in the delivery ofScotland’s forensic services since the McKie case, and I am confident that the recommendations from this Inquiry will further enhance these services.
“We said when we set up this inquiry that it was not intended to try or retry any individual for events of the past, nor to challenge the decisions of the prosecution, the defence or the courts in relation to any of those events.
“It was to open up and understand those events and to learn from them to ensure thatScotlandhas a fully efficient, effective and robust approach to the identification, verification and presentation of fingerprint material.
“Sir Anthony’s report delivers on this and gives all those involved the clear basis for moving forward with a system that commands full public confidence.”