Sir Alec Jeffreys on The One Show

Posted by mjs76 at Sep 08, 2011 09:45 AM |
Leicester’s DNA fingerprinting pioneer and the case which made legal history.

Yesterday’s The One Show featured a piece about the 1980s murder case that introduced the technique now known as ‘DNA fingerprinting.’

Former police officer Rav Wilding came to the University, where Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys still teaches in our Department of Genetics, to interview Sir Alec about the local double murder case. In 1985, Leicestershire Police believed that the murder of a 15-year-old girl was linked to another murder three years earlier. A local youth had confessed to the second crime but denied the first.

Sir Alec’s innovative technique of DNA profiling proved conclusively that both murders were committed by the same man but it wasn’t the accused. A mass blood sampling of local men was organised and a lucky break led police to Colin Pitchfork who had paid a friend to give a blood sample in his stead. Pitchfork was arrested, positively identified using the new technique and in September 1987 became the first person in the world convicted on the basis of DNA evidence.

You can catch up with Wednesday’s The One Show on iPlayer. The DNA fingerprinting feature starts at about 15’40” and is a sensible, serious look at the topic. However, if you keep watching afterwards, you can hear Joan Collins worrying that DNA advances could lead to criminals making clones of people. Good grief…

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