Monthly Archives: January 2017

DNA Evidence Under The Microscope

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   At the first mention of ‘DNA evidence,’ our minds can be forgiven for wandering to starched white lab coats and the tortoise-shell glasses of television detectives. A report released today by researchers from the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence (EUROFORGEN) wants to challenge that. ‘Making Sense of Forensic Genetics’, written in partnership with the charity Sense about Science, aims to clarify the limitations of what DNA can and can’t tell us in criminal investigations. ‘Such is the power of DNA to identify, convict, and exonerate,’ the report argues, ‘that many perceive it to be infallible.’ While forensic evidence has given prosecutors and detectives a vital tool in their investigations and in court, the researchers argue that we should acknowledge that the science is not fool proof and can rarely stand up alone. ‘The DNA evidence won’t give a “yes” or …

Who’s Afraid of Milo Yiannopoulos?

“I made a decision that has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with human rights and decency,” argued Adam Morgan’s article in The Guardian last week. The editor-in-chief of The Chicago Review of Books was justifying his magazine’s decision to boycott publisher Simon & Schuster in 2017. Why? For publishing a book whose author he finds repulsive. Stranger things have happened in the past year than the call to boycott a publisher in the name of liberalism, but not many. Morgan’s words do not sound brave. Instead, they demonstrate some of the most basic forms of repression, cowardice and fearfulness. Books become dangerous only when we show our own closed-mindedness to open debate. A hard-hitting review of Yiannopoulos’s book would have done far more to dismiss his slander and his lies. The Chicago Review should spend its time criticising ideas themselves, and not their free expression. …

Silence in Court: British defendants in shaken baby cases look to US for help

This piece was originally published with The Justice Gap.   ‘I’ve been contacted by three or four families in the last three or four months, desperately looking for help,’ says Dr John Plunkett. From his farm deep in the Minnesota countryside, high-speed Internet can’t always be relied upon. But Dr Plunkett, a retired forensic pathologist who has been instrumental in challenging the science behind so-called Shaken Baby Syndrome, is receiving messages from British families struggling to find experts prepared to give evidence on their behalf in court. ‘There’s nobody that’s willing to testify,’ he claims. Back in March last year, Dr Waney Squier was banned from practising in the UK when the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that she had given irresponsible and misleading evidence in court. As reported on the Justice Gap, Michael Birnbaum QC criticised the ruling as a ‘bizarre combination of the apparently one-sided and the obviously inept’ …