Belfast Telegraph

Met Police to review NI fingerprint procedures after Kingsmill errors

By Michael McHugh

The Metropolitan Police has been asked to independently review fingerprint checks in Northern Ireland after opportunities were missed to identify a suspect in the Kingsmill massacre.

Expert Dennis Thompson twice failed to link the suspect's palm print to a sample found on the getaway vehicle used by the gang.

Last year a different fingerprints expert who read a report of the inquest decided to run another check and discovered a match, a witness told the hearing. A decision was taken not to prosecute.

Later, more of Mr Thompson's work was reviewed and further errors found, the PSNI's senior fingerprints expert said. Nothing other than human mistake was suggested.

Jeff Logan told the inquest yesterday: "We have brought in the Met Police to go through our methodology to ensure that what we do is correct."

In 2010 and 2014 Mr Thompson was working with the database for the Historical Enquiries Team (HET). The HET gave him a list of 25 Kingsmill suspects.

The individual known by the cipher S54, who has been convicted of unrelated terrorist offences, was one of those.

His fingerprint data had been handed over to police in Northern Ireland by the Garda.

Mr Thompson ran a check with Kingsmill and wrongly found it negative. Mr Logan said: "This is a human judgment and is prone to error."

He added: "I don't believe that the decisions taken... on November 8, 2010 and October 7, 2014 were anything other than human error and no attempt was made to conceal the facts."

The mistakes were uncovered last year when expert David Traynor was reading a news report about the inquest during his tea break and decided to run another check, Mr Logan explained.

Subsequently the PSNI checked a proportion of Mr Thompson's other work.

Mr Logan said: "There were further errors found in that work.

"There was no particular pattern."

Michael Egan, a barrister for the police, said: "There is an audit and a piece of work presently taking place by the PSNI directly arising from error in the Kingsmill case and focusing on Mr Thompson's work in other cases."

Alan Kane QC, who represents some of the Kingsmill families, said it was an important development.

The inquest was halted while legal counsel considered the impact of the revelations and will resume in the autumn.

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