EXCL Diane Abbott says a Labour government could renationalise forensics amid major evidence scandal

Posted On: 
4th December 2017

Diane Abbott has said a Labour Government could renationalise forensic services as a major evidence-tampering scandal threatens to ruin more than 10,000 criminal cases.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott urged ministers to revisit the question of privatisation
PA Images

Some 50 cases will no longer go to trial amid allegations of evidence manipulation at the Randox Testing Services laboratory in Manchester, it emerged last week.

Two road deaths have already been referred to the Court of Appeal, while many more cases across 42 police forces and dating back to 2013 could now be in doubt.

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In an exclusive article for PoliticsHome, the Shadow Home Secretary said Labour will “be looking at renationalising" the service once the costs and delays caused by the scandal are totted up.

The taxpayer-funded Forensics Science Service was shut down by the Coalition government in 2012 due to monthly losses of some £2m.

Randox Testing Services took on evidence analysis in criminal cases involving violent crime, sexual offences, unexplained deaths and drug driving.

Two men formerly employed at the firm have been arrested, while five have been interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police.

The two suspects are understood to have previously worked at Trimega Laboratories - a separate forensics firm also facing a probe - which deals with child protection and family court cases.

Ms Abbott said: “As cases unfold, Ministers will need to provide much greater disclosure of the likely costs and delays, as well as the human costs involved.

“Once we have some idea of the extent of these, Labour will be looking at renationalising forensic services.”

She said warnings during the coalition that privatisation of forensic services could lead to big problems “may be proved correct” as the fallout of the scandal becomes clear.

“Ministers want to accuse Labour of ‘politicising’ the forensics scandal around the issue of privatisation,” Ms Abbott wrote.

“But theirs was a political decision to privatise the forensics service in defiance of the warnings they received.”