Court rejects ex-prisoner's DNA sample challenge

A convicted killer lost his appeal Tuesday against a police demand for him to provide DNA samples as part of a sweep to solve unsolved historic crimes.

Lawyers for the man -- who was convicted of manslaughter in 1984 but was later released and has not committed a serious crime since 1999 -- argued at the High Court that the request infringed his human rights.

But Lord Justice Pitchford ruled the request made in April was "lawful and proportionate".

The police could have been ordered to destroy thousands of DNA samples if the challenge had been successful.

Stephen Cragg QC, who led the challenge by the man identified only as R for legal reasons, said: "The claimant in this case accepts he committed a serious crime but not since 1999.

"Now he has been asked to provide a sample he says his human rights have been breached as he has a right to a private life."

Cragg questioned whether statistics backed up the police case. He said: "If you take DNA from everybody you will solve more crimes.

"But will this improve the detection rate? It remains a very low rate. Often DNA evidence will throw up red herrings."

The test case was triggered by a police operation in which DNA samples have been collected from prisoners whose crimes pre-date routine collection, which started in 1994.

The police force at the centre of the case, which also must not be be named for legal reasons, wanted R's sample as part of the push across England and Wales to collect genetic material from people jailed for serious crimes before 1994.