back to article UK Border Agency suspends 'flawed' asylum DNA testing

The UK Border Agency has quietly suspended its heavily-criticised attempt to test asylum seekers' nationality by DNA fingerprinting and isotope analysis. Officials have been told that the "Human Provenance Pilot", described as "naive and scientifically flawed" by Sir Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA fingerprinting, has been …

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  1. RichyS
    Big Brother

    This sounds very sinister

    <quote>he added, concluding, "what I would like to know is which scientists told them to do this!".</quote>

    Dr. Josef Mengele, possibly?

  2. Hollerith 1

    '...which scientists told them to do this!'

    The ones listed on Ben Goldacre's site?

  3. Adam Salisbury
    WTF?

    LCROSS Mk. 2

    Now the folk at NASA have successfully lobbed a couple of spacecraft at the moon can they please lob a coupld at the Home Office in search of any intelligent life whatsoever??

    Everyone one of those morons and reprobates should be cleasnsed from the gene pool before they fuck the country entirely with their fantasy-land policy making!

  4. Dangermouse

    Who suggested they do it?

    And how much cash was spanked on this waste of time?

  5. Mike Richards Silver badge

    @ Adam Salisbury

    'Now the folk at NASA have successfully lobbed a couple of spacecraft at the moon can they please lob a coupld at the Home Office in search of any intelligent life whatsoever??'

    Bugger that - can't they just crash something into the Home Office?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Dodged a bullet that time.

    This would have been every bit as bad as reintroducing phrenology, FFS! They'll be bringing back the ducking stool next... "Asylum seekers float, so if she weighs more than a duck, she's an illegal immigrant".

  7. Jedi Name Germinator

    You know it's a matter.....

    ... of time before these experiments are conducted on the general populus

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    as but the DNA database is a success

    So there!

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    BTW We've been here before

    During the last Tory administration, 1 or 2 AT (After Thatcher) I think one of the various predecessors to the BA did DNA testing on hcildren Vs parents especially from whereeverstan and India. Perception being (probably amongst the Daily Heil readership) that most of them dummies to help their "parents" get in.

    IIRC testing was stopped when it turned out that a *lot* of these suspected fake children were in fact real children of the people bringing them in.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "what I would like to know is which scientists told them to do this!"

    possible leads here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jul/12/hair-tests-spot-terrorist

    and here:

    http://www.lgc.co.uk/news/24-oct-2007_rebeca_bursary.aspx

  11. Luther Blissett

    Jam tomorrow

    > Isotope testing is equally unproven, he added, concluding, "what I would like to know is which scientists told them to do this!".

    Perhaps it was not a matter of scientists telling the UKBA to do anything, but of someone telling the Home Office to tell scientists something. Namely, because isotope testing of DNA is unproven, that the scientists have to make it work. A negative scientific result in the laboratory called the UKBA may be the equivalent of no jam today, but also the motive for a positive political result in the world at large tomorrow. Who needs this political result?

  12. Colonel Panic
    WTF?

    "Ve haf vays of finding out...

    ...ver you are from. "

    Jesus.. where to start ? Bigotted, stupid, racist and wrong on so many levels I don't know whether to puke, laugh or break something.

  13. YARR
    Thumb Down

    Politics before common sense

    It sounds as if Professor Mark Thomas has a political axe to grind. There is a strong correlation between mitochondrial DNA what region of the world you are indigenous to, but of course it's not accurate down to the level of national borders. This test provides useful information which can be used to dismiss obvious bogus applicants from nowhere near said country. However, as always, the information provided should always be used in combination with other evidence to make an intelligent decision.

  14. Steve Evans

    He not know how HM govt works...

    <quote>he added, concluding, "what I would like to know is which scientists told them to do this!".</quote>

    HM Govt doesn't speak to anyone with any expertise in any field they are about to make a huge cash injection into.

    They say "We want this", sales person says "yes yes yes, show me the money"... Money is handed over, project runs over budget and time, more money is handed over, project fails. No money is handed back.

    Minister involved in handing out the contract quietly leaves post and appears on the board of the company he gave the huge contract too only a few years before.

  15. Paul Uszak

    Where does this lead?

    Why not just measure the spacing of their eyes and the size of their heads? Oh hang on, that went pretty wrong...

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Meanwhile on the Bakerloo line...

    ...another Government laptop containing a private database is errantly left behind on a seat.....

  17. EnricoSuarve
    Big Brother

    Greedy boffins

    "what I would like to know is which scientists told them to do this!"

    Probably the same ones advising the home office that flat finger printing and iris scanning are sensible ways to identify human cattle on their ID tags http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4580447.stm

    i.e. the ones who will say anything for a few quid

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Luther Blissett

    I don't think it's the DNA which is being isotope-tested, it'll be blood or tissue. Your isotopic makeup reflects the isotopic makeup of your diet which varies with the local geology.

    As to the DNA tests, I think the problem is that these tests are OK at population level. Consider blood groupings (the basic ABO system). If I test 1000 peoples' blood groups and 950 of them are group O, it's very likely the group is from the Americas (south > north, but either much, much more likely than Middle East). On the other hand a group who are 25% AB or B are much more likely to be from Beijing than Birmingham.

    But that's for populations. It doesn't help you decide whether a single individual is from one of those areas. All blood groups exist (just about) in all areas.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Colonel Panic

    "Bigotted, stupid, racist and wrong on so many levels I don't know whether to puke, laugh or break something."

    Welcome to the Home Office. As for breaking something, flattening Marsham Street would only be a start.

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