High Court rules innocent man’s DNA must be removed from database

As if the govenrment wasn’t in enough of a bind over the police National DNA databases, in a landmark ruling yesterday, the High Court of England and Wales has decided that the DNA of the innocent should not be on the database in the current legal circumstances. The man from County Durham was maliciously accused of assaulting a pupil at the school at which he was a teacher, and despite volunteering for questioning was arrested, fingerprinted and swabbed. These records were of course kept despite his innocence.

This story reminds us that being on the NDNAD is not an isolated thing, but part of a complex network of records that do imply suspicion (like it or not) – even Sir Alec Jeffreys, who pioneered DNA fingerprinting, thinks so… in the case of this teacher, he would have been wrongly suspected every time he applied for jobs working with children.

This is another indication that the government’s policy on the DNA database and police tactics to populate it, have been not just morally questionable but illegal, and confirms that the response issued this week was inadequate and devious. It will be interesting to see how they might now immediately have to modify their plans to conform to this new ruling (which, being a British court, they can hardly blame on ‘un-British’ European law)…

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

3 thoughts on “High Court rules innocent man’s DNA must be removed from database”

  1. This is a great news, but from reading the article you link to and the one in the Times, the Police eventually consented before a High Court hearing so this is not a landmark ruling. The police seem to have been scared that it could have been one and climbed down.

    br -d

  2. Hmm. Seems you are right – that was rather clever (and once again, devious).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: