Forensic Evidence and Terrorist Trials in the United Kingdom
(1995) 54 Cambridge Law Journal 69-99
Posted: 20 Aug 2018
Date Written: 1995
Though forensic evidence has played a role in the conviction of terrorists in the UK since the 1970s, it seems that its importance is growing. This trend is most marked in Northern Ireland, where the expanding facilities of the Northern Ireland Forensic Service recently received some recognition of their relevance to the IRA by the fact that the latter organisation arranged for the laboratories to be laid waste by a large bomb in 1992. On the face of it, this evidential avenue seems to offer great promise. On the one hand, it avoids several human fallibilities, such as itchy trigger fingers, memories affected by fright or lapse of time, and self condemnatory statements induced by disorientation. On the other hand, it calls in aid the wonders of science with its allure of objectivity and technical precision. Yet even this most apparently objective category of prosecution evidence has been shown to be very fallible, especially in terrorist cases. The purpose of the remainder of this paper is to elucidate some of those fallibilities and to discuss what lessons may be drawn from them for the operation of the criminal justice system.
Keywords: Forensic science, miscarriage of justice, terrorism, criminal justice
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K33, K19, K30, K33, K42, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation