On the 11 November, the Council hosted the first ‘Bioethics in Parliament’ event on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament.

The event’s four sponsors, Dr Ian Gibson MP, Dr Evan Harris MP, Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Earl Howe (shadow health minister), represented each of the main political parties and both Houses. Following on from the publication of the Council’s report on the forensic use of bioinformation in 2007, the question for discussion was: is retaining the DNA of innocent people justified by the need to fight crime? Given a pending judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Marper & S v UK, the debate was highly topical and attracted a large audience. Michael Marper and a teenager known as ‘S’ are arguing that being on the UK’s DNA database is an infringement of their human rights. The ruling, expected before the end of the year, may require the UK Government to reconsider its current policy.

Professor Albert Weale gave a short introduction to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which was followed by a summary of the Council’s report on the forensic use of bioinformation by Dr Carole McCartney. Guests then heard contributions from Gary Pugh, Director of Forensic Services at Metropolitan Police and Jenny Willott MP, who recently introduced The DNA Database (Removal of Samples) Bill, and a general discussion followed. The event was attended by a range of MPs, peers, civil servants and other individuals interested in the ethical issues raised the National DNA Database.

Find out more about the Council's work on the forensic use of bioinformation.

The Council plans to host a second Bioethics in Parliament event in November 2009.