Friday, 18 May 2012

Fingerprints and Annex TVP 2

On 9 June 2011 the Attorney General Dominic Grieve made a statement in the House of Commons saying that he wasn't going to go to the High Court to apply for an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.  On the same day a considerable body of written material was published on the Attorney General's website relating to his decision  It can be seen under the sub-heading "Thames Valley Police (TVP) statements" there are seven links; the first six links are titled Annex TVP 1 to 6.

Bearing in mind the wording of the sub-heading referred to then it might reasonably be assumed that a police officer from TVP authored the six annexes.  That is not the case though: we now know from a Freedom of Information request that they were drafted by Kevin McGinty, a senior civil servant in the Attorney General's Office.

Mr McGinty's "Annex TVP 2 Fingerprint and DNA evidence" is the one relevant to this post   It is quite a brief document so should be read as a whole, however it is only the part dealing with fingerprints that I will concentrate on in this particular post.

Superficially it may appear to be fine but I want to point out my concerns about it.

At point number 7 Mr McGinty states 'It should be pointed out that these figures and the fingerprint statistics that follow are from a fairly small sample'.   The question that needs to be asked is how small is 'fairly small'?  We just don't know.  If a police force is involved in a cover up then how do we know whether or not the 'fairly small sample' has been weighted in some way.  Again we just don't know.  Really the statistics Mr McGinty then goes on to quote do not necessarily add up to very much.

Another matter not addressed is that a person intent on suicide would normally have little motivation to avoid leaving fingerprints.  Contrast this with a planned assassination say where I suggest the murderer or murderers could be very keen not to leave fingerprint, or DNA, evidence!  Without him being aware of the circumstances of the event leading to the possible procurement of fingerprint evidence how can Mr McGinty make a valued judgement from the statistics provided?

It is worth reading paragraphs 2 and 3 together.  Effectively I think they are saying that because no third party DNA or fingerprints were found at the scene that doesn't in anyway exclude the possibility of third party activity at Harrowdown Hill.  Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page made the point at the Hutton Inquiry that there was no evidence of third party involvement in Dr Kelly's death.  Clearly then the lack of third party DNA and fingerprints on its own couldn't exclude the possibility of third party presence.  

One area in which Mr Page's reasoning lets him down at the Inquiry is that because he can't find evidence of third party activity at the scene then no third party activity took place.  Hence Dr Kelly wasn't murdered, hence he committed suicide.  This line of argument is demonstrably nonsense!

In many ways the testimony given by Mr Page is very poor, no doubt I will be looking again at what he said at the Inquiry in later posts.

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