Will the randox scandal lead to quashed convictions?

Back in February it was reported that two men had been arrested for perverting the course of justice in relation to alleged manipulations of samples taken from motorist’s drugs tests which were submitted to the Randox Testing Services Manchester Laboratory. It was indicated then that due to the arrests any positive samples from the Manchester Lab were being retested at the Randox Northern Ireland Laboratory.

However after further enquiries were made it was discovered that there were issues with the results from The Northern Ireland Lab and the CPS decided not to use any Randox toxicology tests in any criminal proceedings.

In a statement the CPS said:

“Following the investigation and arrest of two employees of the Randox Testing Services (Randox) Manchester laboratory accreditation was removed by UK Accreditation Services (UKAS) on the 21st March 2017. Positive samples from that lab were sent for retesting to the Randox Northern Ireland laboratory to check and confirm their results.
Unfortunately further enquiries have now called into question the results from the Randox Northern Ireland laboratory such that the Crown Prosecution Service is unable to use any Randox toxicology tests in evidence in criminal proceedings.
This decision was made following advice from the Forensic Science Regulator on 27 April and the removal of accreditation to carry out toxicology testing by Randox.
Samples from positive tests from both laboratories are now being prioritised for retest by other laboratories.”

How a new laboratory is able to accurately test a sample which has already been handled and potentially interfered with by a lab that is no longer is accredited has not been explained by the CPS.

This clearly brings into question all samples that have ever been tested by Randox and may result in convictions being overturned even when defendants entered guilty pleas in a similar manner to the Greater Manchester Police Medi-prep scandal in the late 80’s and early 90’s which affected thousands of motorists arrested for driving with excess alcohol.

In November 1988 the Forensic Science Service (FSS) laboratory at Chorley found an anomaly when comparing an actual blood/alcohol reading with that anticipated. Upon receiving notice of that and learning that there had been a similar anomaly earlier in the year, Chief Superintendent Halligan of Greater Manchester Police began an inquiry.

The inquiry found that because the swabs in kits were drying out all such kits dated prior to 1 January 1984 had been withdrawn from use and returned to the police supplies department. There the swabs, called medical cleansing Towelettes, were removed from the kits and replaced by swabs called Medi-prep swabs. The kits were then re-issued throughout the Greater Manchester police area.

Scientific examination revealed that the swabs contained ethanol and would have adversely affected the toxicology results in excess alcohol cases. The blunder resulted in hundreds of people applying to the Home Secretary for a pardon and having their convictions quashed.

Other cases came before the Courts such as those of Josephine Sarah Scally and others who had sought orders to quash their convictions in cases whether they had pleaded guilty. The court found that, albeit innocently, the convictions were obtained by conduct which was analogous to fraud, collusion or perjury and would be quashed.

As experts on road traffic law, Burton Copeland represented many clients and secured quashed convictions in the medi-prep cases. We now anticipate that there may be many cases where convictions are based on flawed findings.

If you think that your blood sample may have been tested by Randox, even if you pleaded guilty to a drug driving offence you may have an argument to appeal or re-open your case and have the conviction set aside. Contact us to discuss further.