HC Deb 08 December 1986 vol 107 cc81-2W
Mr. Richard Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his letter of 11 September to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills and his reply of 20 November to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), on what evidence it has become clear that the strength of caustic soda solution used by Dr. Skuse in the Greiss test on 22 November 1974 was almost certainly 0.1 per cent.

Mr. Mellor

Dr. Skuse told the present Director of the Chorley forensic laboratory in a telephone conversation on 15 January 1986, that he had used a solution strength of 0.1 per cent. The Director made a contemporaneous note of the conversation. Dr. Skuse gave the same information to the controller of the forensic science service in a separate telephone conversation. This conclusion was also supported by a guidance note which Dr. Skuse wrote, which refers to the use of a 0.1 per cent, strength solution, and which he circulated to colleagues in January 1975-February 1975.

However, as my hon. Friend will be aware, Dr. Black who gave evidence at the trial of the men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings, has recently said that his recollection is that Dr. Skuse indicated to him that the solution strength was 1.0 per cent. The then Director of the Chorley forensic science laboratory has also said that the information which he gave to Mr. Baldock in May 1985—in which he referred to the use of a solution strength of 1 per cent.—was based on information given to him by Dr. Skuse.