Saturday, 14 November 2009

Disappearing DNA database story

It has been reported in the Daily Mail, and referred to in today's Independent, that a £150,000 p.a. city solicitor lost her job because her employers discovered that her name appeared on the Home Office DNA database. The story was that her DNA had been taken because of a complaint against her, which had proved to be unfounded. It is just the sort of anecdote which we opponents of the casual saving of innocent people's DNA, as well as of the proposed National Identity Register, fear may become all too common.

However, the Daily Mail web site no longer has the story in question. Click on the link and you will receive a "not found" message. Since there appears to be no other source for the story, one wonders whether the Mail jumped the gun and printed before it could stand the story up.


Anonymous said...

This is the full text of the story:

A high-flying city lawyer was fired from her £150,000-a-year job after a 'routine security check' revealed her DNA was held on the national database - over a 'false allegation' made against her.

Lorraine Elliott said that she felt 'gobsmacked and depressed' after bosses spotted her file during 'background clearance' checks as she was just about to start work on a new project.

The mother-of-three today described her reputation as having been 'tainted' after she was dismissed from her post following the discovery of her DNA profile - despite never having been charged with an offence.

Lorraine Elliott was finger-printed and swabbed for her DNA after a complaint was made against her that she had tried to fraudulently obtain a nursery school place

She said: 'I was gobsmacked that something so ridiculous, a completely made up allegation, could have such awful consequences.

'It has tainted my reputation.'

The keen horse rider who lives in Kent is now struggling to keep her home after her glittering legal career was left in tatters following her arrest on September 24 this year.

She is now working as a stable hand to make ends meet.

She was taken to her local police station in Ashford after a complaint was made against her that she had tried to fraudulently obtain a nursery school place.

She was accused of forging a signature on an application form and then finger-printed and swabbed for her DNA.

But following extensive interviews with officers she was released without charge and the very next day she received a letter saying there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute.

Despite 'no further action' being taken her genetic record was kept on file.

And she is now battling to have her name removed after the government announced on Wednesday that DNA profiles of innocent people would be kept for six years.

She added: 'If that is left on a police record for anybody to see - and anybody doing a check - it taints my reputation.

'And my reputation has been tainted purely by a false allegation.'

Ms Elliott was just about to take up working on the government's own national identity card scheme which required the routine checks to be made before she was 'cleared' for the role.

But she is now fighting Home Office red tape to have her name removed from the database as an 'exceptional case' - and relaunch her legal career.

She has won the backing of human rights group Justice which said her experience is not an 'isolated case'.

Eric Metcalfe, spokesman for human rights group Justice, said: 'This is not an isolated case.

'There's likely to be a much larger category of cases of people who are involved.

'They may not realise for several years before they get caught up in a security check or background clearance of some kind only to find out they have been barred from some area of working.'

Meanwhile Ms Elliott, who has children aged four, six and eight - has been left struggling to keep a 'roof over their heads'.

She said: 'I've gone from working five days a week and being able to spend my weekends with my children to now working seven days just to keep a roof over their heads.'

Frank H Little said...

Thank you. Lots of detail there which makes the story look authentic. The question remains: why did the Mail pull it?