More controversy over DNA database as MP's details removed

20 Aug 2009 View Comments
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Damian Green
Damian Green's DNA was deleted from the police database

The government has come under fresh pressure to delete the records of hundreds of thousands of innocent people from the police DNA database after the "exceptional" decision to remove the sample taken from Tory shadow immigration spokesman Damian Green when officers arrested him during an investigation into Home Office leaks last year.

Green hailed the Metropolitan Police decision "a small but significant victory for freedom" but insisted it was only a first step, adding: "I want every innocent person who has been arrested and whose records are being wrongly held to be treated the same as me."

Further reading

Under current rules, recently challenged by a European Court of Justice ruling, police record and store the genetic fingerprint of anyone arrested. There is provision for an appeal for removal to chief constables, but it is rarely effective.

Green's DNA details were recorded last November after police controversially raided his offices in the Commons and in his constituency seeking evidence of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office in connection with a series of leaks of Home Office immigration scandals.

No charges were brought and the inquiry was abandoned.

Green said his success was "not the end of the matter" and he would continue to campaign against the retention of data on 800,000 people arrested and subsequently found innocent or released without cases proceeding.

He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "The battle over our DNA records is part of a wider struggle to roll back the database state. As citizens of a free country, our personal information belongs to us not the state. If we transgress, we lose some rights to privacy. No government has the authority to take away those rights from the innocent as well."

Green has accused ministers of "shamefully dragging their feet" after putting forward proposals to retain data for 12 years following the Strasbourg judge ment that the blanket policy of retention was a breach of the right to privacy.

Campaign group Liberty said the rapid destruction of Green's DNA data " highlights the unfairness of the current regime, which enables special treatment to be given when police consider it expedient while most ordinary people are dismissed or ignored".

But the Home Office insisted the database plays a vital role protecting the public by helping to prevent crime and arrest offenders and said ministers are considering proposals to comply with the judgement which will "ensure the right people are on the database" while determining when they should come off.

A spokesman said the Home Office was "committed to putting in place an evidence-based retention regime which has public support and enhances public protection".

He said the new system would make the exceptional case procedure for deletion more open.

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