FOI request sheds light on fingerprint case

The chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Willie Rae, warned the Scottish Executive almost five years ago that Shirley McKie, the former police officer wrongly accused of lying on oath at a murder trial, was entitled to financial compensation. But officials have refused to admit that a mistake was made, and Miss McKie has been forced to take her claim through the courts and hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent on legal costs.

The former CID officer lost her position with Strathclyde Police after the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) said her thumbprint was found at the home of murder victim Marion Ross in 1997. Miss McKie was cleared of lying on oath in 1999 after insisting the print found at the murder scene was not hers, a claim supported by international fingerprint experts.

The letter from Mr Rae to the Executive, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also reveals that the chief constable believed the fingerprint left at the murder scene did not belong to Miss McKie. He suggested that progress to agree any kind of settlement with Miss McKie could be impeded by the police and the Executive's refusal to agree who was responsible for the fingerprint bureau of the SCRO. Politicians said the letter indicated that the executive should have paid up years ago.

Police chief: McKie had a case in 2000 (The Herald, 10 November 2005)