The Queensland health minister responsible for public health in that Australian state has declined to take on a request by Oxebridge to investigate oversight bodies of NATA, the nation’s official laboratory accreditation body.

As reported previously, lax oversight by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) of the Queensland police forensics laboratory was uncovered during an official Commission of Inquiry. That Royal Inquiry was launched to re-open the murder investigation of Shandie Blackburn, after irregularities were uncovered in the associated DNA testing. The commission found that, beyond just the Blackburn case, “thousands of samples with potentially vital evidence in crimes including murders and rapes went untested” after the lab intentionally relaxed its sampling methods to improve profits while decreasing workload.

The laboratory holds ISO accreditation issued by NATA, purporting to attest to the lab’s testing methods.

Oxebridge then reported that NATA is accredited, itself, to ISO 17011 and overseen by the Australian IAF regional body APAC. However, the CEOs of NATA and APAC have had a long-standing relationship that casts doubt on the ability of either body to perform its duties objectively. APAC CEP Graeme Drake previously worked for NATA under its CEP, Jennifer Evans. Drake went on to form APAC, and granted Evans’ NATA full accreditation. Evans now acts as APAC Chair.

APAC is required to perform regular audits of NATA to ensure they are performing proper audits of the forensics laboratories. Yet, NATA performed at least two audits of the Queensland laboratory and failed to uncover any improper sampling, despite verification of those methods being a full requirement. At no point did APAC identify NATA’s audit failings.

Now, both NATA and APAC have been advised of the Royal Inquiry, and have still chosen to do nothing.

Drake, meanwhile, recently was granted a role to represent the entire country of Australia on key ISO committee meetings.

Queensland Ministry De-Prioritizes Case

Yvette D’Ath MP

Oxebridge had requested the Australian government take up the probe into corruption and cronyism by NATA and APAC, and was referred to the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Yvette D’Ath MP. The government then forwarded Oxebridge’s request to MP D’Ath.

Shortly after, however, D’Ath’s office replied that the matter could not be taken up because “due to a heavily committed schedule, the Minister is unable to meet with you at this time.

At no point did Oxebridge request a “meeting.”

Oxebridge has since written back to D’Ath’s office clarifying this, and requesting instead that a probe of NATA/APAC be launched, and that such a probe should not be limited by one person’s schedule.

It is not clear why the government did not forward the matter to Mark Ryan, the MP over Police and Corrective Services, but Oxebridge is simultaneously attempting to reach out to MP Ryan’s office instead.

The delays mean that the corrupt relationship between NATA and APAC continues and that lax oversight of all of NATA’s accreditation audits may continue unabated. The risks posed to the Australian public are sever, including allowing criminals to go undetected, and wrongful convictions of innocent citizens, due to fraudulent forensics testing.


Surviving ISO 9001 Book

Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.