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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Evidence on Trial Public Lecture - Science on Trial: the use of scientific evidence in criminal court

7th March 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre, Professor Niamh Nic Daeid (University of Dundee)


There has been an increasing scrutiny in the UK and other jurisdictions (North America and Australia in particular) of both the nature of the fundamental science which underpins forensic evidence as well as the credibility of forensic scientists presenting their evidence in our courts. What is certain is that science has a role to play in the delivery of both criminal and civil justice for our society, but we must ensure that the science is robust and that our scientists, lawyers and jurors understand its strengths and limitations. This presentation will explore some of these issues and discuss the latest developments in the relationship between science and the courts in the UK.

Niamh holds a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin and received her PhD in bioinorganic chemistry from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She also holds a BA in Psychology from the Open University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an invited leader in the field Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She also holds fellowships with the Royal Statistical Society, the Chartered Society for Forensic Science and the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland.

Niamh has been involved in the development of policy and practice in forensic science over many years and has recently authored the recommended methods for the analysis of cathinone compounds for the United Nations. She also led the recent development of the European standard for fire scene investigation. She has held leadership positions on the council of the Chartered Society for Forensic Science for 9 years and was editor in chief of Science and Justice for 6 years. She is the immediate past chair of the European fire and explosion investigation working group of ENFSI (the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes) and chairs the coordinating committee for the INTERPOL forensic science managers symposium. She also serves as vice chair of the scientific advisory board of the International Criminal Court.

Niamh has published over 120 peer reviewed research papers in the forensic sciences and delivered many conference presentations at National and International conferences. She holds a grant portfolio in excess of £11
million and co directs, with Professor Sue Black, the new £10Million Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee. A focus of this new research centre will be the admissibility of scientific
evidence into the courts. Her personal research portfolio has operational relevance in fire investigation, drug chemistry, fingerprint enhancement, ballistics and tool marks.

Niamh undertakes independent casework in fire scene investigation, terrorist events and the investigation of clandestine drug production. She has been involved in over a hundred cases including high profile terrorist and murder investigations and has presented evidence in court as an expert witness both in Scotland and in England and Wales

This lecture is free and open to all.


Map – The Calman Learning Centre is denoted at
building number: 43.

Contact for more information about this event.