In March 1998, Ms McKie, a Detective Constable with Strathclyde Police was arrested and charged with perjury. She had testified at a murder trial that she had never been inside the house where the murder was committed, which contradicted testimony from expert witnesses from the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) to the effect that they had identified a fingerprint in the house as Ms McKie's.
At Ms McKie's trial, two American fingerprint experts testified that her fingerprint was definitely not the same one as had been found in the house and she was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict.
In June 2000 the then Justice Minister, Jim Wallace, and Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd, apologised in the Scottish parliament to Shirley McKie. A former Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police, James Mackay QPM, was then appointed by the Crown Office to conduct a further investigation into the issues relating to fingerprint evidence and to report back with their findings. Mackay's interim report on August 3, 2000 suggested that SCRO fingerprint personnel had given evidence in court that was:
- "so significantly distorted that without further explanation, the SCRO identification likely amounts to collective manipulation and collective collusion."
A civil action was raised suing the Scottish Executive and others on the basis that a malicious prosecution had been caused by dishonesty of the SCRO fingerprint experts. On the morning that this was to be heard, in February 2006, Ms McKie was offered and accepted £750,000 from the Scottish Executive in full settlement of her compensation claim, without admission of liability.
It has been suggested that the motivation for this attempted cover-up was in order to maintain American confidence in the Scottish legal system in advance of the Lockerbie trial.
It is clear that this sorry affair reflects badly on the SCRO whose chairman was Mr Andrew Brown.
The very same Andrew Brown was Chief Constable of Grampian Police in 2000 when that force failed to investigate Hollie Greig's allegations. "