Today the Home Affairs Select Committee heard evidence on the retention of innocent DNA samples from Sir Alec Jeffreys - the man who developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling which are now used all over the world.
While Big Brother Watch could sadly not be there, the tireless Lobbydog - a prolific blogger of Westminster gossip – has provided a brief transcript of the key exchanges that I felt were worth sharing on our blog.
“If my DNA were to be put on the database I would object profoundly against that,” said Sir Alec Jeffreys at a hearing of the Home Affairs Committee.
“What advantage is it to me, as an entirely blameless citizen? The best outcome is that my DNA would sit there cluttering up a fridge and that my DNA profile would sit there cluttering up the database.
“The worst that could happen is that there is some glitch in the database that made a false match to my DNA profile and that brings me into the frame of a criminal investigation which has very serious repercussions.”
Crucially, Sir Alec finished by saying that if he’d known his DNA analysis would be used by the Government in the way it has, he’d have been “astonished, perplexed and deeply worried”.
“I’ve always understood that one of the great foundations of English law was a presumption of innocence, but obviously now there is a presumption of future possible guiltyishness,” he said.
He makes several other excellent points against why innocent DNA should be removed from the database (including the increased likelihood of false matches between family members – who share similar DNA profiles) – the full report really is a must read.
By Dylan Sharpe