This week brought us the news that almost 500 criminal investigations in Greater Manchester are being reviewed following the arrest of two RTS employees on suspicion of perverting the cause of justice.
RTS (Randox Testing Services) is a firm which provides forensic services to more than half of the UK’s police forces. Alongside criminal cases, RTS have carried out toxicology tests in pathology cases. It is not yet clear whether any of these tests are affected.
The details of the data manipulation are also unclear. According to RTS, this is a case of two rogue employees manipulating control data to affect test results. No information has surfaced so far about the motivations of these employees. Regardless of their individual motivations, however, very serious questions should be asked about a justice system where such a volume of cases can potentially be compromised without an alarm being raised.
It is interesting that this news comes less than a month after Dr Gillian Tully, the Forensic Science Regulator, warned in her annual report that the government will damage British justice if it inflicts further cuts on forensic science. Dr Gillian Tully described the compromise in quality caused by the relentless government cuts, and singled out legal aid cases as being the worst affected.
Of course, manipulation of forensic data is not a new phenomenon. We represented a claimant in a high profile case [Smart v The Forensic Science Service Ltd  EWCA Civ 783] who had been falsely convicted of a firearms offence on the basis of incorrect forensic evidence. We presented evidence that employees of the Forensic Science Service had altered the exhibit numbers on the evidence in question, possibly to cover up their mistake.
This recent case simply serves as yet another warning: forensic evidence can be used to pursue justice, but it can also be used to pervert it. Our justice system must be fully aware of, and equipped for, the latter possibility.
Our Inquests and Actions Against Police solicitors act for many people who believe they have been treated unfairly by the police and justice system. If you would like to contact our team call 0333 321 4580 or email email@example.com.