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Private matter?

The recent European Court of Human Rights ruling against retaining DNA samples has thrown the right to private life into sharp relief, says Lucy Corrin

20 January 2009

The government is being forced to revisit legislation on DNA retention for the purposes of investigating and detecting crime.

The case of Marper v UK (30562/04 [2008] ECHR 1581), heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 4 December, considered whether the UK should be allowed to retain fingerprints and DNA samples of a person accused of a crime and use them for the purpose of detecting other criminal behaviour.

The applicants’ complaint rested on Articles 8 and 14. Their argument was that the authorities had continued to retain their fingerprints, samples and DNA profiles after the criminal proceedings against them had ended with an acquittal or had been discontinued.

The central issue was whether retention infringed the applicants’ right to private life. The applicants contended that there was an interference with their private life that was unjustified under Art.8(2). Art.8(2) allows states to interfere with privacy if a measure is ...

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