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Monday, April 15, 2002
(Updated on 5-6-02 to include the statement and petition)

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...

More Airport Security for NYC Area (AP)
Two governors announced tougher security measures at the major airports around New York City on Friday, including requiring criminal background checks of shop workers and fingerprint scans for all airport employees.
- Apr 12 5:59 PM ET

New crime scene lab streamlines investigations (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
They photograph the crime scenes and collect and process evidence like fingerprints, clothing fibers, hair, blood and other fluids. They work in cities all over the county, including many that have their own police departments and homicide detectives.
- Apr 12 7:11 AM ET

Broward Gets New Crime Fighting Tool (WPLG Click10.com)
The mobile lab has state-of-the-art equipment that will allow investigators to gather and process fingerprints, hairs, and fibers while still on the scene of a crime. It also has two lasers, a digital imaging station, and a satellite navigation system.
- Apr 09 2:39 PM ET

Man Accused Of Raping 87-Year-Old To Stand Trial (KGTV TheSanDiegoChannel.com)
...Latent Print Examiner Rodrigo Viesca testified that a fingerprint lifted from a bedroom window in the victim's home matched the defendant's on file in a criminal...
- Apr 10 7:56 PM ET

Good morning via the "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.

Last week, we looked at a news article that compiled and summarized much of the challenge as reported lately in the media.  If you would like to read this or other past details, visit the clpex.com Detail Archives.  This week, we turn to international events in Scotland as Arie Zeelenberg passes on information regarding the recent controversial results of the SCRO's "independent inquiry" into the McKie and Asbury cases.  Below are exerpts from a letter recently circulated by Mr. Zeelenberg.



Lectori Salutem,

This is a generic letter circulating among fingerprint experts around the world.  I apologise for the fact I am unable to address to you personally and in your own language.

We appeal to your expert judgement and professional ethics.

As you may have heard a dreadful mistake is made in Scotland with a wrong identification of a latent mark in a murder case against a police officer named Shirley McKie.  Her life and career are ruined as a result of this. After a long investigation the experts of the Scottish Criminal Record Office refuse to admit to the mistake hiding behind their opinion.  They will be reinstated in their job and may continue to discredit the fingerprint science and to make new victims.

Iain McKie, the father of Shirley, a retired Police Superintendent, has presented an accurate summary of the events in this case and at the same time, makes it very clear what devastating effects it has had upon their lives.  The presentation is available on this site.

Just recently the Scottish authorities have announced that no mistake was made, SCRO staff simply has another opinion. This puts the suspicion back upon Shirley's shoulders and will certainly make it more difficult for her to find  justice and compensation.

It is recommended that you make your own comparison and draw your your conclusion.  You can find the mark and the comparison print on the internet at the following link:

If you agree that the identification is wrong we ask you to support the following statement.  It is an initiative from Mr. Michael Russell a Member of the Scottish Parliament and is an appeal to the Fingerprint community.  The statement is written such that it expresses your opinion/conclusion in your professional domain at the same time minimizing the risk of getting in conflict with your own organization.  Their will be a list of undersigning experts from all over the world that state their name, position, organization, city and country.

We, the undersigned, forensic experts in the field of fingerprint identification are writing to express our extreme concern about a matter we consider to have serious implications for our profession.

We have learned about an identification of a latent print in a murder case, allegedly coming from a police officer named Ms. Shirley McKie.

We have studied the latent and the comparison print from the left thumb from Ms. McKie.

On every level of detail investigated the two prints show so many differences that we are convinced that the latent does not originate from her left thumb.

The number and quality of the differences we have observed can be easily demonstrated to anyone and can only happen in comparing fingerprints from completely different sources.

It is clear that Ms. McKie should have been definitively excluded as a possible donor at an early stage of the comparison process.

We are astonished that any qualified or even non-qualified expert could deliver a conclusion that they were identical.

We are deeply concerned that fingerprint techniques that have proved dependable for so many years and have served the judicial process so well for over a century have now been  badly tainted.

We are also concerned that the victim was a police officer acting in the line of duty, that her accusers were expert witnesses working for the Crown Office and that such an injustice could happen again.

To continue to excuse such a gross mistake as a ‘matter of opinion’ harms the credibility of fingerprint evidence, the Scottish judicial system and the position and credibility of the SCRO.

This statement expresses our personal view as experts who are bound to their professional and ethical obligation to expose mistakes and ascertain the truth without fear or favour.

We appeal to you to use your authority and power to correct this mistake, stop injustice and prevent such a situation ever arising again.

Name                     Position                     Country

As long as the situation in Scotland continues, we will enable experts to join this list.  It will be allowed to grow as long as necessary; this will be “the indefinite list”.

The statement will be sent to the Minister of Justice from Scotland, Mr. Jim Wallace, to the media and will be in the public domain.  The Media version may be an abstract.

We don’t have much time; within two weeks there will be a debate in Scottish Parliament and it would be very helpful if it was ready by then.  We need to speak up for the sake of the McKie family and for the sake of the fingerprint science.  We have a moral and professional obligation to do so.

Please forward this Email to your fellow experts in your country and ask them to join even if you don’t.  If you want to join, your name will be listed underneath the statement.

To join the list, simply E-mail the consent form below back to dact.arie@12move.nl.  If you are under threat of disciplinary action you may undersign anonymous,  we will verify your identity and will only supply the key information you provide; For example; fingerprint expert, 45 years, (organization), City, Country.

I have studied the prints in the McKie case and it is my expert conclusion that to identify these prints is a mistake.

I have read and I support the content of the statement about the McKie case.

I herewith give consent to list my name under the statement and to publish it.

I accept that the lay out and wordings of the final letter may differ slightly from the draft as long as the principal content stays the same.

I accept that a shorter version may be provided to the media.


  ___________________   _____________________   ___________________

                 Name                                       Title                                 Organization     


Country: _____________________


___I prefer to be listed anonymous because I am under threat of diciplinairy action.

What is asked;

- Judge the prints at http://onin.com/fp/problemidents.html#second_case

- Forward this message to your fellow experts in your country.

- Direct any e-mail replies to dact.arie@12move.nl

- Be aware that we might be forced to limit the list of the statement sent to the Minister or media, but all of the names will be published in the public domain.

- Please react within a week.

Thanks for your cooperation
Arie Zeelenberg
Head National Fingerprint service
The Netherlands


If desired, you may affix your name to a "hard copy" of the Petition consent form and mail it to:

Allan Bayle
77 Great North Way,
London,  NW4 1PT
United Kingdom

As usual, the Detail Chat board is available this week for informal banter about the Weekly Detail, as is the onin.com forum for other discussion.  


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Added the transcript of Iain McKie's presentation on the McKie and Asbury cases:



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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!


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