Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The lack of fingerprints

No comment was made at the Hutton Inquiry about whether there were fingerprints on the knife found near the body.  Nor indeed about fingerprints on any of the other items at Harrowdown Hill.  But Norman Baker asked Thames Valley Police about prints on the knife at least.  After some delay he received a response on 27 February 2007 stating that 'no fingerprints were recovered from the knife'

More recently it has been discovered via freedom of Information requests that similarly there were no prints on the spectacles, mobile phone, watch or from two of the co-proxamol blister packs.  (Although there were three blister packs one was retained for DNA checking - as the packets had been in a pocket of the Barbour jacket it is not too surprising that DNA believed to be that of Dr Kelly was found on it).  The packet with one tablet left was one of the two tested for fingerprints.

I have now had a witness statement dated 4 August 2003 sent to me.  This is by Renee Gilliland, a "Fingerprint Development Technician" employed by Thames Valley Police.  It is clear that she looks for fingerprints or other marks, photographs them and then these photographs are examined by someone else.  There has been understandable confusion about the process, the fact that there is a record of no fingerprints has been interpreted by some as being no identifiable prints.  Ms Gilliland has to report on any marks, it could be say a third of a smudged thumbprint, or less ... it doesn't matter. 

On Tuesday 29 July she examined and chemically treated the following objects as described by her:

AMH/2        Evian water bottle
AMH/5        Sandvik knife
AMH/4        Watch from left hand side body near left hand
NCH/17/2   Co-proxamol blister packets
NCH/17/4   Glasses
NCH/8         Belt
NCH/4         Right shoe
NCH/5         Left shoe
NCH/17/1    Mobile phone

I don't know why the belt and shoes were tested.  The first three items had a reference AMH because they were the preserve of Scenes of Crime Officer Andrew Hodgson, the remainder have a Nicholas Hunt reference.

With all this testing she found just two marks: these were near the mouth of the bottle.  Black and white photographs of the marks were forwarded to the force fingerprint bureau.  She gives a date of 4 July 2003 which is clearly way out - perhaps she was thinking of America's Independence Day for some reason!  Maybe she meant to say 4 August but would it take almost a week to have the photographs developed and sent?

She has to report on ANY marks that are revealed.  I find it difficult to believe that all she got out of the testing were two marks on the neck of the water bottle.  We don't know if  any significant conclusions were drawn from the presence of the two marks. 

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