Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland firm Randox denies claim police forensic testing 'fixed'

Major police investigation into Northern Ireland firm's forensic testing centre in Manchester

The Northern Ireland firm which handles forensic testing for police forces across the UK has denied claims some samples were "fixed".

Police in England are reviewing hundreds of cases and have arrested two staff over what the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) described as "data manipulation".

Greater Manchester Police launched an investigation that some 484 cases handled by Randox Testing Services (RTS) were affected.

Potentially hundreds of people could have been the victims of miscarriages of justice because of convictions based on incorrect test results in their cases.

Randox said it was treating the matter with the "utmost seriousness" but totally rejected reports samples were "fixed", blaming "the perverse actions of individual(s)".

A statement said: "Please rest assured that RTS have acted with absolute propriety and speed in this matter, and will continue to work tirelessly with the Police and all appropriate authorities to resolve the outstanding issues and support the ongoing police investigation."

<<<Randox statement>>>

Dorset Chief Constable Debbie Simpson, the NPCC lead for forensic science, said: "We have been made aware of a quality failure with RTS which is currently being investigated and a criminal inquiry has been launched by Greater Manchester Police.

"Randox has provided each force with a list of cases that could have been affected. Working in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service, we have provided guidance to forces so they are able to review each case to determine if compromised data played a part in prosecution and the CPS will then take appropriate action in any cases identified.

RTS is based in Northern Ireland and has offices in London and Manchester and describes itself as a "a world leader in clinical diagnostic solutions with offices and distribution in over 145 countries".

It is part of the Randox Labratories group, which includes Randox Health, the sponsor of UK horse racing's premier event, the Grand National and based in Crumlin Co Antrim.

It was founded by Dr Peter FitzGerald.

RTS's website adds that it is "entrusted by the majority of UK police forces to provide forensic toxicology testing".

In a statement on the website it said that the issue "came to light as a result of an internal investigation" and that the investigation was limited to its Manchester site, and two men who worked there for three years.

It blamed "the perverse actions of individual(s)", adding: "Contrary to media reports, the internal investigation centres on the manipulation of quality control data, which supports test results. There is no evidence that either the samples or the quality control materials themselves were subject to interference.

"There is no evidence from our internal investigations that the processing of alcohol samples has been affected. Alcohol analysis in drink-drive cases is not conducted at RTS Manchester."

Manchester police said two men, aged 47 and 31, had been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and bailed until next month.

A force spokeswoman confirmed it had been asked to investigate "forensic results issued by Randox Testing Services".

She added: "Randox Testing Services have provided forensic services to police forces, including GMP, for the past two years. The organisation is being fully co-operative (with) the investigation."