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Randox review reverses 40 convictions... and counting

(Posted on 07/12/18)


A review of the Manchester forensic lab Randox Testing Services involving 10,500 cases has so far resulted in the quashing of 40 drug-driving convictions. 50 further cases have already been dropped.

Two employees have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and six others interviewed under caution.

"This is a national scandal which has had a devastating impact on the lives of the many people we are representing,” said Andrew Petherbridge of Hudgell Solicitors. "People have lost their driving licences, and as a result lost their employment, struggled to pay bills such as mortgages and rents, and some have been unable to travel to see their families and children."

"It was devastating to me," explained Luke Pearson, whose wrongful conviction was overturned in February. "I needed to travel to sites as part of my job as a scaffolder as we worked across the country, so as a result of me being banned I lost my job. I'd even been offered a job as a foreman for a company and they were prepared to give me a company car to travel around sites, but of course that opportunity was lost when I was banned."

On top of the £2.5m the data manipulation is likely to cost Randox for re-testing of samples by other laboratories, the affair has eroded public trust in the police and possibly in forensic science itself.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on forensics, said the re-testing was taking longer than expected thanks to a "chronic shortage" of scientific expertise and accredited laboratories, with resultant knock-on delays in unrelated sexual assault cases.

This was clearly foreseen by the Forensic Science Regulator Gillian Tully who wrote a year ago that the re-testing process would be lengthy because of a limited number of skilled experts. Forensic toxicology expertise has been lost since the closure of the Forensic Science Service in 2012.

The review, begun in January 2017, is likely to take 3 years to complete.