Forensic Fudging By Keith Rose, Serving Life Prisoner
In recent years, we have seen the privatization of water, energy, railways and even the Royal Mail which have led to soaring prices, cartel formation and a lack of competition, in spite of all government claims to the contrary.
For prisoners, we even 'enjoy' our own example of privatization with the ever-soaring prices of prison canteen items whilst the last proposed pay rise for prisoners, which never happened, was more than 25 years ago.
While price rises may hit the prisoner and public in their pocket, there is one area where privatization plays fast and loose with people’s lives and that is in the past privatization of the Forensic Science Service.
The Forensic Science Service was not perfect and provided a mostly independent and impartial service even if there were the occasional questionable practices
in laboratories like Huntingdon. (In one episode, a chemist turned firearms expert disappeared from Huntingdon laboratories when he realized he was under investigation in 9 cases to turn up years later working for the Metropolitan Police in their Lambeth laboratory).
However, with privatization, impartiality and ethics is now lacking in some companies who seek to maximize their profits and secure closer business ties with their principle customers, the 43 police forces of the U.K. Any laboratory which consistently supports police cases is going to enjoy regular business from the client police force. There are no checks, balance, or regulations for rotating forensic laboratories.
As I write more than 6,000 forensic samples are to be re-examined after two employees of Randox forensic services have been placed under criminal investigation by Greater Manchester police on suspicion of manipulating data.
There are many thousands of cases affected which range from rape and murder to minor cases like drug-driving with thousands of convictions suspected to be unsafe.
Helping the evidence along is an old practice in forensic science circles where a lab assistant or scientist 'forms a view' of the evidence and particularly when giving evidence in court will seek to sway the jury by omitting or talking up forensic results to support their view.
This 'Forensic Fudging' has long been recognised by academics involved in forensic science like Ruth Morgan, Director of University College London's Centre for Forensic Services. Doctor Morgan recently highlighted the fact that PNA sequencing and analytical chemistry has improved exponentially in recent year~ with more than 55,000 genetic matches every year. What concerns Doctor Morgan and her colleagues is detailed understanding of what this evidence actually means.
Misinterpretation of DNA evidence is very easy, shake hands with someone, your DNA is transferred to their hand and vice versa. Hand someone a coat and your DNA is now on the garment and their DNA is transferred to your hand. If your DNA is subsequently found on a victim or murder weapon, how do you prove your innocence?
Doctor Morgan's views appear to be shared by the Metropolitan Police's Director of Forensic Services, Gary Pugh, who warned that the system had reached a 'low point' in the past 5 years, and was suffering 'degradation' due to a lack of support.
There are many cases of forensic fudging I could use as examples in this article. In 2015, the FBI admitted that its experts had overstated the evidence in 95% of microscopic hair sample analysis cases resulting in more than 200 unsafe convictions with 14 defendants dying in prison or executed. (Don't mention this to Donald Trumpski, he'll use it as an excuse to justify sacking of the FBI director Comey).
In Britain, we have cases like that of Barry George, convicted by a microscopic particle of gunshot residue, talked up by an expect with no mention of possible cross-contamination in a laboratory handing gunshot samples. Ide could look at the laboratory in Kent where for two years contaminated equipment had been routinely used. There are dozens of similar fiascos, but here is a specific example.
In 2000, a shop assistant, Rachel Manning had been found strangled on a golf course near Milton Keynes. Her boyfriend, Barri White was charged with murder and convicted due to the 'compelling' evidence of a dozen micro-particles of the rare-earth elements Cerium and Lanthanum found on Rachel Manning's skirt and also found on the seat of a van belonging to Barri White's friend, Keith Hyatt, who was also convicted.
At trial the prosecution forensic witness talked up the presence of cerium and lanthanum as highly unusual and stated that these materials could have only have been deposited on Ms Manning's clothing minutes before her body was dumped.
In 2003, Ruth Morgan, then an Oxford University PhD student, found herself testing dozens of cigarette lighters to destruction, flicking them over and over again.
What the prosecution expert witness had failed to disclose to the court was Cerium is indeed a rare-earth metal of the Lanthanide series, atomic number 58. However, it is as abundant as copper, found in many ores and is three times as abundant as lead. It oxidizes rapidly and strongly so is used in illumination, ignition and signaling devices such as flares. Misch metal, used in lighter flnts is 50% Cerium. Lanthanum, atomic number 57 is routinely found in Cerium oxide. Furthermore, each time a lighter is 'struck the flint sheds up to 4,000 metal particles which can persist for at least 18 hours. A classic case of forensic fudging.
Barri White and Keith Hyatt's convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2007 due to the evidence above and in 2013, Shahidul Ahmed, was convicted of Rachel Manning's murder.
Doctor Ruth Morgan and University College London are now asking the public to assist to raise £1 million to fund a new laboratory housing a scanning electron microscope and a liquid chromatograph for minute scrutiny of gunshot and other residues. The intention is to provide independent, bespoke scientific reports. One of the principal aims is to answer questions relating to transfer and persistence of DNA and other particles passing from one surface to another.
The establishment of such a facility will be academically driven rather than commercially driven as is now the case with privatised forensic companies seeking to make a profit.
Anyone can donate to UCL's project at https://crowd.science/campaigns/UCL-forensic-science
Other writings by Keith Rose
A couple of weeks ago, I was dragged kicking and screaming onto an over 50s wing. After admiring the deep furrows my fingernails had left in the concrete floor, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and entered the spur.
Making my way through a forest of Zimmer frames, past a row of very smelly old men in bath chairs drooling onto the tartan rugs covering their knees ••• but that's enough about the staff ••• what about the prisoners?
Read more: http://www.mojuk.org.uk/MOJUK%202013/KeithRose2.html
Clearing the Books?
There are many criminal cases where police forces have covered themselves with shame in efforts to 'solve' or clear their books of crimes. Cases like those of the Guildford 4, Barry George, or the M50 Marie Wilkes murder which implicated Eddie Browning, there are hundreds of other examples.
However, there are few that fill me with more disgust and contempt than the brazen attempt by *Devon & Cornwall police to 'Solve the Genette Tate case as reported in MOJUK issue 578. Just after the death of Robert Black, the principle suspect and likely murderer, this deceitful and corrupt police force announces they were just about to charge Robert B1ack. Just pipped at the post after 38 years? I don't think so, more like a shameless attempt to 'Clear the books' of the crime, a tactic they have used in the past all too often.
The sheer nerve of this police force to claim to be providing Genette Tate's family with closure by claiming to be about to charge Black is almost beyond belief. But to then blame the Crown Prosecution Service for 'introducing a new policy' of not charging or trying the dead, unbelievable?
Read more: http://www.mojuk.org.uk/Keith%20Rose%20April%202016.html
Plebgate - The Allegation The Police Lied. This Is What They Do
Of all the names that featured in the media in 2012, the one I least want to hear of in 2013 is that of Andrew Mitchell.
Andrew Mitchell presents'as a prat, indeed he presents as an arrogant, pompous, condescending, evil-tempered prat. He admits swearing at police, but in his obscenity littered, bad-tempered rant denies using the toxic word, "pleb". [Pleb: C18; abbrev. of Plebian; noun; informal, derogatory. A member of an inferior or lower order social class].
Mitchell claims that the police lied, he swore but did not use the word, pleb, and it is claimed use of that word caused him to be fired.
Mitchell further states that the Plebgate affair has destroyed his lifelong belief in the honesty of bobbies everywhere, his belief that a coppers word was sacrosanct. That begs the question where has he spent his life, Pluto?
Mitchell's bleating about being fired from his job as Chief Whip (Bully-boy) for the Conservative party has resulted in a top-level investigation being set up by the Met, headed by Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe. It is claimed that up to 800 Met officers will be required to complete a duty statement as part of the investigation. What a waste of time (I Newspaper 05/01/13). Let me conduct my own somewhat briefer investigation into the Plebgate affair.
Read more: http://www.mojuk.org.uk/MOJUK%202013/KeithRose1.html