Inquiry into death of former Sheffield Wednesday player delayed
An inquiry into the death of a former Sheffield Wednesday player has been delayed by 'quality failure' at a 'forensic testing' firm.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission's inquiry into the death of 48-year-old Dalian Atkinson has called for the 'urgent' re-testing of forensic samples taken from the former footballer after learning that toxicology samples had been 'potentially compromised' by a private company.
Shropshire Coroner, John Ellery, who adjourned a pre-inquest review into Mr Atkinson's death until January, heard that the re-testing is being co-ordinated by Avon and Somerset Police.
Mr Atkinson died in August last year after a police Taser was during an incident outside his father's house in Telford.
Three West Mercia Police officers have been interviewed under criminal caution, while around 15 other officers have been spoken to as witnesses.
Mr Atkinson played for Wednesday between 1989 and 1990, scoring 10 goals in 38 appearances. He also played for Ipswich, Real Sociedad and Aston Villa during his career.
In a statement read to a pre-inquest hearing, IPCC operations team leader Paul Marriott said a testing firm instructed by the watchdog had allocated toxicology analysis to Randox Testing Services, which is now at the centre of a criminal probe into allegations of 'data manipulation'.
Mr Marriott said: "This analysis was completed, however a quality failure within Randox Testing Services was subsequently identified, which potentially compromised a significant number of cases across the criminal justice system nationally.
"Due to the number of cases impacted by this issue, Avon and Somerset Police were tasked to co-ordinate the re-testing nationally and they categorised the cases in order of priority."
The results will be sent to the pathologist who examined Mr Dalian's body to be included in the final post-mortem report.
Mr Marriott said: "Once the IPCC receive the final post-mortem report, we will then complete our final investigation report.
"This report will go through internal IPCC quality assurance processes and the IPCC commissioner will then determine whether a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service will be made.
"Due to the number of individual parties involved in the process we feel unable to provide a definitive timeframe.
"However in our opinion it would be reasonable to re-list the pre-inquest review for three months from now, during which time we hope to conclude our investigation."