Mike Barber

DNA Expert

Mike is a prominent forensic DNA expert witness with considerable experience within forensic biology. He is recognised as a leader in his field helping to set UK national standards through work commissioned by the Government’s Forensic Science Regulator. Training and quality consultancy are a core part of his work and he is regularly employed as a Quality Assessor for the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Mike regularly works for domestic and overseas law enforcement agencies helping them to develop laboratory facilities, technical processes, staff capability and achieve accreditation to the ISO/IEC 17025 international standard. He is a highly skilled provider of:

  • Clear and balanced expert opinion to all parties within the Criminal Justice System
  • Training in technical methods, results interpretation and quality standards
  • Technical DNA advice to help customers build DNA analysis facilities and develop effective operating systems
  • Quality consultancy to help build reliable processes and achieve internationally recognised standards such as ISO/IEC 17025

Mike has considerable experience around the optimisation of existing DNA recovery and analytical processes, improving success rates, process efficiency and output quality. Through audit and process review he can provide effective, risk-focused quality assessment of DNA processes as he has done over many years for the FSS, the National DNA Database and the courts. He also currently assesses forensic science providers against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 in DNA profile interpretation on behalf of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

In addition to criminal forensic science casework, Mike has significant experience in the use of DNA technology in DVI (disaster victim identification) within a coordinated response to mass fatality incidents. Recently he was commissioned by the EU to support the Forensic Science Centre at the Croatian Ministry of the Interior in their development of processes to allow them to respond effectively to a DVI incident in the future.

Brief Career Overview

Mike has been a practising forensic scientist for over 30 years specialising in DNA, blood and body fluid testing. His expertise includes the interpretation of standard sensitivity and low template DNA profiles as well as complex mixed DNA profiles. His work has included expert DNA analysis and interpretation for cases being progressed in overseas jurisdictions and has presented findings in courts overseas. For example, his work established that the murder conviction of David Milgaard was a miscarriage (Canada) and he presented evidence in the subsequent trial that found Larry Fisher guilty of the same offence. He was a key witness at the Supreme Court in Singapore in the case of serial killer John Martin Scripps in which his DNA work played a crucial part. In 2012 he was awarded a Commendation from West Yorkshire Police for many years of professional support to high profile and complex investigations.

He was DNA Principal Scientist (national head of discipline) and head of the Specialist DNA Unit within the former Forensic Science Service. Mike was commissioned to help define UK standards for the Home Office Forensic Science Regulator that are part of the “Forensic Science Regulator Codes of Practice and Conduct”. In particular he contributed to the development of national UK standards relating to DNA laboratory anti-contamination measures, preventing cognitive bias in DNA mixtures interpretation and was commissioned to design and conduct a UK DNA mixtures interpretation proficiency testing program. He was a key exponent during the development of genetic relationship (kinship) testing.

Mike had the original idea for the cold case investigation series “Operation Advance” and instigated the initial pilot work. Operation Advance received government funding and led to the conviction of more than 40 serious offenders over its three phases.

He represented the British Government in a multinational delegation to Beijing in 2005, advising on disaster victim identification following the Thai tsunami disaster. He also received a police commendation for his work in leading the forensic response and reporting the DNA results for the identification of the British victims of the Egyptian terrorist bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh.