Justice

‘The military didn’t fail them. The government failed them’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   ‘Why do they need to ask?’ wonders Kris McGurk. ‘Why do they need to bring campaigners on board? Why do they need to launch funding appeals?’ McGurk is talking about the crowdfunding campaign he has been leading on behalf of the families of three Scottish soldiers killed, off duty, by the IRA back in March 1971. First approached by members of the McCaughey family after the Historical Enquiries Report came out, McGurk has since been pivotal in bringing the case into the public consciousness once more. The story is horrific, even by the cruel standards of the Troubles: three young men – Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig and Joseph McCaig – befriended in a bar and persuaded into the car that drove them to their deaths. They were shot in the head at a roadside not far from Belfast. Their bodies returned …

Major review finds ‘insufficient evidence’ in science behind shaken baby syndrome

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   A major review of shaken baby syndrome has called into question the science that links the three symptoms to deliberate harming. The study, conducted by an independent Swedish agency that assesses healthcare interventions, has found ‘insufficient scientific evidence’ to assess the accuracy of the so-called ‘triad’ of symptoms – that is, brain swelling, intracranial bleeding, and bleeding in the retina – in identifying traumatic shaking; and that there was ‘limited scientific evidence’ that the ‘triad and therefore its com­ponents’ could be associated with such shaking. You can read the report here. Despite long-standing concerns about the validity of the science behind the shaken baby syndrome, it has become increasingly difficult for paediatric experts to challenge a diagnosis in courts. Last month, the Justice Gap reported on how British defendants were struggling to find medical experts in the UK prepared to testify …

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 …