Attorney General’s Reference (No 3 of 1999) (Lynn): HL 15 Dec 2000

A DNA sample had been wrongfully retained after the suspect had been acquitted, and the sample had been used in a later investigation to identify him. A subsequent sample had been taken, and the result of that second test had been used as evidence at trial. The defendant objected, and claimed that it had been gained and used in breach of the section. The original sample itself was not relied upon at trial. The issue was whether the unlawful retention so tainted the investigation process, that the later sample should not have been admitted. The two parts of the section were strikingly different. After an acquittal the sample should have been destroyed. Part b merely prohibited the use in an investigation, but that did not go on in turn to make inadmissible subsequent evidence. To the extent that such an interpretation was an interference with the suspect’s private life, the interference, as qualified, was necessary to ensure prosecution of serious crime. At trial the accused had full opportunity to contest the reliability of the DNA evidence. There was no principle under the Convention that unlawfully obtained evidence was not admissible. The purpose of the criminal law is to permit everyone to go about their daily lives without fear of harm to person or property. Serious crime should be effectively investigated and prosecuted, with fairness to all. This requires the court to consider three interests, the position of the accused, the victim, and the public. The austere interpretation of the Court of Appeal conflicted with the plain words of the statute and produces results which are contrary to good sense. A consideration of the public interest reinforces the interpretation adopted. The question to be asked in respect of the failure to comply with a statutory requirement was to focus on the consequences of non-compliance.

Lord Steyn
Gazette 15-Feb-2001, Times 15-Dec-2000, [2000] UKHL 63, [2001] 2 WLR 56, [2001] 2 AC 91
House of Lords, Bailii
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 64
England and Wales
Appeal fromAttorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999 (Lynn) CACD 26-Mar-1999
There was an obligation to destroy fingerprints and samples in respect of persons who were acquitted. Nevertheless, if such material was unlawfully retained, it could be used for the purpose of investigating another offence, and the evidence could . .
Appeal fromRegina v B (Attorney-General’s Reference No 3 of 1999); Regina v Weir CACD 26-May-2000
Where a defendant gave a sample of DNA during an investigation, but the sample was not destroyed on his acquittal, evidence obtained from a cross match relating to a different crime was not admissible. The statute requires the samples to be . .

Cited by:
CitedSekhon, etc v Regina CACD 16-Dec-2002
The defendants appealed against confiscation orders on the basis that in various ways, the Crown had failed to comply with procedural requirements.
Held: The courts must remember the importance of such procedures in the fight against crime, . .
CitedRussell v Devine (On Appeal from the Court of Appeal Northern Ireland) HL 8-May-2003
The House was asked whether a specimen of blood required under the regulations, having been requested at a hospital or health centre had to be taken there.
Held: The health centre was not a hospital within the regulations. However the request . .
CitedS, Regina (on Application of) v South Yorkshire Police; Regina v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police ex parte Marper HL 22-Jul-2004
Police Retention of Suspects DNA and Fingerprints
The claimants complained that their fingerprints and DNA records taken on arrest had been retained after discharge before trial, saying the retention of the samples infringed their right to private life.
Held: The parts of DNA used for testing . .
CitedRegina v Soneji and Bullen HL 21-Jul-2005
The defendants had had confiscation orders made against them. They had appealed on the basis that the orders were made more than six months after sentence. The prosecutor now appealed saying that the fact that the order were not timely did not . .
CitedR, Regina v CACD 4-Apr-2008
The defendant appealed his conviction for rape, saying that the complainant’s evidence had wrongfully been allowed to be given over a remote video link. Provisions to allow such means of giving evidence had been intended to be phased in only as . .
CitedRegina v Sargent HL 25-Oct-2001
When a telephone engineer used his position to make unauthorised telephone intercepts, and produced apparent evidence of criminal activity, he was, under the Act, a person engaged in providing a public communications system, and the recordings were . .
CitedMarper v United Kingdom; S v United Kingdom ECHR 4-Dec-2008
(Grand Chamber) The applicants complained that on being arrested on suspicion of offences, samples of their DNA had been taken, but then despite being released without conviction, the samples had retained on the Police database.
Held: . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Criminal Evidence

Updated: 20 November 2021; Ref: scu.77969