The Home Office has admitted that potentially misleading DNA evidence has been presented to juries.
Following a landmark case last year, criminal courts have increasingly allowed “subjective expressions of evidential weight” to be offered to juries.
This means that rather than just presenting the raw data, scientists may describe the likelihood of DNA pointing to a suspect as “moderate” or “strong”.
Now there are fears that the recent reliance on such subjective statements could have overstated the strength of the prosecution’s case in a number of trials.
This in turn could open the floodgates to appeals from those convicted of crimes including murder and rape.
Professor Peter Gill, who pioneered DNA profiling, told The Times: “As soon as they [the Home Office] start admitting that mistakes have been made, this opens the door to appeals in other cases.
“Evidence given by a scientist is not the same as scientific evidence.”
Prior to last year, DNA evidence collected from crime scenes tended to be treated as inconclusive. But following a number of complex cases, the Court of Appeal ruled that there were occasions when it would be helpful for experts to give a professional opinion on the reliability of what was found.
Now however, guidance has been issued from the forensics watchdog warning that the approach runs the risk of undermining convictions.
- For those facing criminal charges, it is important to seek specialist legal advice. As criminal law solicitors in Yorkshire, Lester Morrill are experienced at handling a range of criminal law cases including assault and battery, robbery, theft, burglary and anti-social behaviour. To find out how we can assist you in your case, contact us today.