DNA bungle could happen again if recommendations are ignored

Friday 23 Feb 2018

The Health Services Union (HSUWA) has welcomed the supplementary report of the Ross Inquiry into PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA which revealed a rare clerical error, not a failure of the Forensic Biology Department’s (FBD) science, led to a wrongful jail conviction.

The report found the clerical error was exacerbated by a manual process and didn’t involve the scientific practice which it deemed exemplary.

The supplementary report was the final chapter of the Ross Inquiry that was conducted to determine if FBD issued incorrect evidence, results or reports to WA Police or the WA Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In total the inquiry investigated five matters, four of those were dealt with by the Ross Inquiry Report tabled in State Parliament on October 19, 2017.

HSUWA Secretary Dan Hill said, this supplementary report released today confirms once again that the scientific work of the Forensic Biology Department of PathWest is of the highest standard.

“Our members should be commended after the independent reviewer Alastair Ross deemed the full audit, conducted by North Metropolitan Health Service following identification of the error, to be appropriate and valid,” he said.

“The public vilification of the Forensic Biology Department and its staff has been shown to be completely unfounded.

“Our members strive to provide the highest quality scientific service despite the inquiry finding their working space and the condition of the FBD facilities were inadequate.

“We are pleased two out of the eight recommendations have been implemented but call on the State Government to urgently action all of the recommendations from the Ross Inquiry.

“Successive governments have failed to act on previous reviews and recommendations calling for new facilities, increased staffing and adoption of new IT systems.

“If these recommendations are ignored, the potential risk for another error is imminent, the time to act is now,” Dan Hill said.

Get In Touch