Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Police Services Authority Chief accused of political meddling in 'no more inquiries' jibe on McKie fingerprint scandal

What should the public expect the new Chief of the Scottish Police Services Authority to be doing ?

Probably trying to heal widespread distrust in what was the SCRO - the Scottish Criminal Records Office, which failed so miserably in the Shirley McKie fingerprint case, but that's definitely not the case for David Mulhern, as he tells the Scottish Parliament there should be no further inquiries into the McKie scandal, thus avoiding any discovery by independent means of wrongdoing within the former organisation, which may well carry on to the new SPSA unless it is brought out ...

Was Mr Mulhern prompted to say this by policial means to give some in Holyrood an excuse to resist the SNP pledge for a full inquiry into the McKie case ? or did he come up with it on his own ... only time will tell ...

The Herald reports :

Police chief sparks fury with ‘no more McKie inquiries’ remark

ROBBIE DINWOODIE, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent

The head of the new Scottish Police Services Authority has said there should be no further inquiries into the Shirley McKie affair.

But the intervention of a senior police officer in political decision-making has outraged the McKie camp and goes directly against a manifesto commitment of the incoming SNP government.

Iain McKie, father of the police officer whose career was wrecked by the fingerprint error that put her at a murder scene in Kilmarnock a decade ago, has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill after the intervention.

Mr Mulhern is chief executive of the new agency that has inherited responsibility for the Scottish Criminal Records Office and the Scottish Fingerprint Service.

He told Holyrood magazine: "The parliament report did allow the boil to be lanced and allowed people the opportunity to say what they wanted to say and there was a sense, I think, from the people involved directly that somebody external had listened to the issues."

He also said: "All everybody said about it was, I just want a chance to say what I think' and they all got a chance to do that. So yes, I think it's gone now.

"We now have resolution, so I'm not sure that any inquiry that sought to reopen that would give us anything further but I know there is intention to have something and personally, I am interested to see what it is intended to do."

Alex Neil, the SNP MSP who has championed the cause of the McKie family, said of Mr Mulhern's intervention: "He should be keeping his nose well out of politics.

"It is very unhelpful when a senior police officer gets involved in such a partisan political debate.

"For one thing, one of the first things he has to learn in his new job is his own remit before he goes on to anything else.

"Secondly, he can take a running jump if he thinks there should be no further inquiries. There are many unanswered questions, including the role of the police and the relationship between the police and the prosecution service.

"No-one will have confidence in his forensic agency, and in particular the fingerprint service, until we get to the root of the poison that landed us with the Shirley McKie affair in the first place."

Mr McKie said: "My breath is taken away by this. This is very stupid and very indiscreet. How many Arlene Fraser or World's End or Chhokar cases do we need?"

"I am very disappointed and surprised that David Mulhern should express that view and I doubt his judgment as a man supposedly in charge of our forensic services."

Mr Mulhern said: "I was recently asked, if in my opinion, we can draw a line under the McKie affair.

"My answer to that question was and is yes'. I do feel that the parliamentary inquiry last year gave all parties involved the opportunity to say what they think. I recognise the commitment of the Scottish Government to a judicial inquiry and SPSA will of course co-operate fully."

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