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Broken Public Trust: Lab That Faked Forensics Data Throws UKAS Under the Bus
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Christopher Paris
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8 December, 2018 - 8:28 PM
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Image EnlargerRandox Testing Services is currently under criminal investigation for having falsified forensics testing data, resulting in criminal convictions based on those tests being overturned, and raising into question the results of paternity tests, drug tests, and other life-altering factors. Throughout it all, the lab has held UKAS accreditation to ISO 17025, with UKAS so far refusing to suspend or withdraw the lab’s accreditation. Worse, the crisis came about because Randox had hired two laboratory quality technicians who had worked previously for another lab, Trimega, which was shut down, but which also falsified data. Trimega also held UKAS accreditation during the period that lab was thought to have falsified results.

In a bizarre move, Randox is taking an unusual position and casting itself as a “whistleblower” in the case, while throwing UKAS under the bus for having accredited it in the first place. First, Randox argues that the discovery of the false results came about from an “internal” investigation, and was self-reported. Law enforcement confirms, saying that Randox is cooperating with it in the criminal investigation. This still lays a black eye on UKAS, who didn’t find the problem despite the fact that UKAS is one of the most powerful accreditation bodies on the planet, and who claims extraordinary powers in carrying out its accreditation activities. And remember: UKAS failed to spot anything wrong at Trimega, too.

But the statement made by Randxo goes even further, skirting near outright blame of UKAS for not having found the issue (emphasis added):

RTS are new to the forensic arena and in establishing their capability employed staff with employment history from other accredited laboratories, the Forensic Science Service and UKAS. RTS complied fully with all UKAS accreditation requirements and in numerous inspections by UKAS, when it appears manipulation was underway, nothing untoward was found.

It now appears that manipulation of data also occurred at a now defunct company, who also had accreditation from UKAS.

If you’re UKAS, you have to be floored.

UKAS has taken a beating on this in order to protect Randox so far, and this is the thanks they get. There’s no good reason UKAS can offer to explain why it hasn’t suspended Randox, given the violations of ISO 17025 are overt, publicly known, and literally criminal. But either UKAS has played the good soldier and stood by its customer, Randox, or (more likely) Randox’s checks continue to clear when paying for that cert.

But now UKAS has to come to grips with the fact that its loyalty went wholly punished, and that Randox was never going to take the PR hit on the chin alone. Now they’ve shoved UKAS into the spotlight, and it remains to be seen if investigators will take the bait and ask (appropriately, mind you), “what did UKAS know, and when did they know it?”

What we the public know, very clearly, is that UKAS ISO 17025 accreditations are largely meaningless, since your lab can literally break the law and still hold a certificate that attests you comply with ISO standards and that your results can be trusted.  Remember, “we accredit criminals” doesn’t seem to align with the magical powers UKAS claims for its accreditation services on its website:

  • Accreditation provides the assurance for Government to rely on commercial providers of evaluation and inspection services.
  • Build business and public trust
  • Provide an alternative to Regulation whilst ensuring the reliability of activities that have the potential to impact on public confidence, health and safety or the environment.

Now the question is how long will it be before UKAS yanks Randox’s cert in retaliation. You know the gods at UKAS are having that conversation after Randox’s very public diss.

All of this is just another example that there’s no honor among thieves. But it’s fairly hilarious to watch this play out in such public fashion. Randox and UKAS deserve each other.

But pity those tens of thousands of victims of this crime, and how ever many more victims may arise as UKAS prints certificates for other labs who may be breaking the law right now, and simply didn’t get caught.

 

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