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Ross independent inquiry into PathWest complete

An independent inquiry that examined 19 forensic cases from PathWest’s Forensic Biology Department (FBD) has found the standard of DNA science at the laboratory to be consistently high.

The inquiry was initiated by the Director General of Health following an Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) investigation into cases potentially affected by the misconduct of a PathWest employee.

Led by Alastair Ross AM, the inquiry examined 19 forensic cases identified by the ODPP, which concerned 27 Persons of Interest, and were dated between 2007 and 2011.

Mr Ross reviewed more than 2,500 DNA analyses and assessed reports, communications and related case file communication logs, case diaries and peer reviews.

In his final report, tabled in State Parliament today, Mr Ross identified eight transcription errors and two typographical errors from six of the 19 cases examined.

One further result, that was unexplained, has since been investigated by the FBD laboratory and a revised report will be issued.

While these errors are concerning, Mr Ross found that none appeared to have had an impact on the outcome of any trial.

Mr Ross made 10 recommendations for improvements at PathWest relating to areas including peer review, governance, IT systems and numbering and labelling of items, and called for an urgent review into the suitability of the FBD facility.

The Ross Inquiry is still to report on its review of the North Metropolitan Health Service audit on the erroneous DNA matching which occurred in 2004 and a supplementary report will be provided at a later date.

The ODPP will liaise with PathWest and Western Australia Police Force to ensure that any disclosure obligations in relation to any of the anomalous results are complied with – only four of the 11 errors were found in court reports and Evidentiary Certificates.