Human error in the lab caused Adam Scott to be held in jail for six months after his arrest on October 23, 2011, the UK report stated. Scott, residing in Devon, was charged with raping a woman in Plant Hill Park, Blackley and immediately taken into custody. As in any rape case, Scott was required to submit a blood test to determine if his DNA matched with what was recovered from the victim.
Unfortunately, the tech at LGS Forensics in Manchester that was performing the lab analysis re-used the plastic tray that the sample on. This is a routine test, says the LGS, but they admitted that there was a similar mistake made earlier that same year, while also determining the DNA of an individual.
Accidents Could Convict Innocent Citizens
Mr. Scott was held in custody for “only” six months, until March 7, 2012. If the contaminated specimen had been used, Scott could have been convicted and held in prison, which would have been completely unfair. Andrew Rennison, the Forensic Science Regulator stated “It is unlikely that the case against Mr. Scott would ever have proceeded to trial and, in the absence of any further evidence, the case would probably have been discontinued.”
The technicians who were working in the lab did not adhere to the strict guidelines. The proper procedures were not used in destroying the plastic trays that were used to hold the samples and the result was contamination. As you would expect, there is a validated DNA extraction process that was ignored or not followed precisely, the trays were not labeled, and the records were not kept properly.
Man Wrongly Charged is Freed
What compounded the errors made was that LGC refused to reconsider their work and the chance that contamination could have possibly occurred. The investigating officer questioned the dependability of the DNA profile, and this refusal caused an innocent man to be held in custody even longer.
The UK Accreditation Service, UKAS, did not revoke the accreditation from LGS Forensics, but they required the agency to put “a number of mandatory improvement actions” into operation, to prevent this type of error from happening in the future.
LGS stated that they treat any error seriously and deeply regretted the contamination that occurred. The incident was closely monitored by the Forensic Regulator and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, and both of these national agencies were satisfied with the outcome of the investigation. They expressed their satisfaction with the corrective measures that LGS made their protection against further contamination and the high standards that were instituted.
Looking at this incident with an international eye, Mr. Rennison had been warned previously by the Forensic Science Service, FSS, which represents the UK in international issues. With the threat of England’s reputation on the line, he asked police in every town in the UK to assist him in regulating standards in all the laboratories to prevent other tests from falling beneath the standards.
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