T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, May 6, 2002
BREAKING NEWz you can
Chicago Fingerprint Forum Adjourns
As you know, a group of latent print examiners from across the globe were
invited to Chicago last week to discuss the best ways to address the recent
challenges to the science of fingerprints. A "Recommendations"
document was drafted by the attendees, and is being finalized as we speak.
Naturally, it will be made available via the Detail as soon as it is officially
BidNow Week! For
our newcomers, the first Monday of every month we auction off a unique or cool
fingerprint-related item on Ebay. This week I found a neat 8 1/2 X 11 inch
golden (from age) reproduction of the document (and text) that WIlliam Herschel
had Rajyadhar Konai place his hand print on in 1858. As we all know,
Herschel's collection became the backbone of Sir Francis Galton's later studies
of the permanence of friction ridge skin features. This item would make a
great framed display. For more info and pics, visit the auction.
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 Dave Wade brought us an article entitled "Processing Tape with Titanium Dioxide (Tio2)."
If you missed it or would like to otherwise peruse past Details, they are
available on the Detail Archives page. This week we are updated by Airie
Zeelenburg on current progress in Scotland.
Friday the 3rd of May, Michael Russell, a member of Scottish Parliament, sent
the statement from international fingerprint experts regarding the erroneous
identification in the McKie case to the Minister of Justice Mr. Jim Wallace.
The document was supported by 129 signatures from experts all over the
world, including many notable ones.
a radio interview Michael called it a very powerful document regarding a case
that has become a “cause celebre”
in the fingerprint community. The
publication of the documents was covered by radio, TV news and some news papers.
Debate in parliament is scheduled for the 15th of May, and can be
followed live on the internet via the BBC site.
Let us all share the hope of Michael Russell that this matter will now be
concluded soon, otherwise it will continue to harm their victims in the first
place. In the end it will also
discredit fingerprint evidence not only in Scotland but throughout the world.
behalf of Shirley McKie, her family and Mike Russell we thank you, subscribers
of the Detail, for your
support! Signatures are still
coming in and will be published prior to the debate in parliament and long after
if need be.
can still join... mail your consent to;
If you want images side by side just send a request to the same
address and a package will be sent to you.
you can find and/or download these published documents:
- the final statement
- a cover letter from Michael Russell addressed to the Minister of Justice
- the list with signatures
- a list with notable signatures
- a list with quotes from subscribers. (below)
For other media publications you may look at;
interview with Mike Russel on radio is available in real player format, or
on the BBC article above, click on the "Scottish National Party" link
in the <WATCH/LISTEN> area located in the right top corner. Or try
the below link...
Rt Hon Jim Wallace QC MSP,
Minister for Justice,
St. Andrew’s House,
EDINBURGH EH1 3DG
2 May 2002
MCKIE V SCRO
attached a self explanatory statement in support of Shirley McKie signed by 130
fingerprint experts from across the world.
All the signatories have either examined the disputed marks on the original
court productions or have viewed the photographs of those marks taken by
fingerprint experts Pat Wertheim and David Grieve in person and/or on the
The relevant photographs and the Internet reproductions have been independently
verified and are accepted by the world fingerprint community as being good
quality reproductions of the disputed marks as found on the original court
expert’s agreements to sign and their personal statements that they have
viewed the disputed marks have been retained and are available for inspection.
This statement from the world fingerprint community is a powerful indictment of
SCRO and its experts.
Of all their important conclusions one is absolutely critical:
can be easily demonstrated and proven that the SCRO experts were clearly
in identifying the mark as Shirley McKie’s and this makes the SCRO
defence that it is a matter of opinion false and untenable.’
It is clear from the unprecedented worldwide response that not only is SCRO
being held up to ridicule but the whole Scottish System of Justice is losing
An even more worrying aspect is my understanding that most, if not all, of the
experts have also viewed the disputed SCRO ‘identification’ in the David
Asbury case and believe it to be equally wrong.
In view of this latest evidence I ask you to take early action to resolve this
selection of comments from fingerprint
experts who have signed the statement to the Minister for Justice.
a perverse way, we owe a debt to the intractable position of the SCRO.
Their decision to remain apart from the rest of the fingerprint community has
done more to unite that community than anything I have encountered in my career.’
the SCRO demands to be 'hoist on its own petard,' let them. Let them enjoy the
fame and celebrity currently enjoyed by all members of the Flat Earth Society
and the various apostles of crop circles, alien autopsies in New Mexico and
those who profess to communicate with the dead.’
was present at the Fingerprint Society meeting in Liverpool when the attending
SCRO supervisor rose in defence of this lunacy. That it continues and is
apparently countenanced is nothing short of appalling.’
seems increasingly unlikely that the SCRO will change their position, which is
truly incredible. The only other option….. is that the remainder of the
Fingerprint Identification community must disassociate ourselves from these
blatant cowards with dispatch and certainty.’
are three possible conclusions to any examination, that is, I know whose
fingerprint it is, I know whose fingerprint it isn’t or I simply do not know.
Experts may vary in knowing and not knowing, but experts cannot disagree on
whose fingerprint it is. Physicians may disagree on a diagnosis
when considering symptoms but one will be right and one will be wrong. Both will
agree whether the patient is alive or dead.’
that errors occurred in the face of overwhelming conflicting opinions is not a
statement of confidence in the four examiners, but arrogance.’
SCRO have done nothing to further the science of fingerprints and they have
caused much confusion with their smokescreen of these identifications.’
the SCRO remain in the ascendancy, leading SCRO officials will certainly be
invited to lecture on alchemy, phrenology and this case by the Iowa Division of
the International Association for Identification.’
SCRO's latest moves to reinstate the examiners involved in the Shirley McKie
case, taking no further action and to make the conclusion that fingerprint
identification is only a matter of opinion and it is perfectly acceptable for
different experts to express different opinions - is a travesty.’
the SCRO to try and justify their errant fingerprint “experts’” actions with
the explanation that fingerprint identification is simply a matter of opinion is
to make a mockery of the whole realm of forensic science.’
felt powerless to help Shirley. The way I have described the feeling…… is
that we are oppressed by one side and shunned by the other, we have no allies in
this fight. Silence seems the only policy.’
can only shake my head in wonder and disbelief.’
CLPEX.com this week...
Updated the link bar on the home page to include
As usual, the CLPEX chat
is available this week for informal banter about the Weekly Detail, as
is the onin.com forum (http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/)
for other discussion.
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!