COMMENTARY: "Eastman inquiry shows importance of the nagging doubt," by Jack Waterford, Editor-at-large of the Canberra Times on May 31, 2014.

GIST: But it was after two sensational cases where justice had miscarried because forensic scientists had misinterpreted evidence, and got things badly wrong. One was the Azaria Chamberlain case. Another was the Edward Splatt case in South Australia, in which a completely innocent man was convicted of murder on scientific evidence. Both cases had involved confident scientific witnesses who had lost detachment and become advocates, and major scientific failures of documentation, reproducability of results, the maintenance of continuity of evidence, prevention of contamination, peer review and close records of processes of deduction. All were to become features of the Eastman case.Each case had led judges to write guidelines about improving and developing "expert'' evidence. Had police, or prosecutors, followed the rules then laid down (as well as more modern ones developed later) the deficiencies in Barnes's conclusions would have been obvious. But Barnes was "difficult" and resistant to external review, and, at times threatened to walk away unless he got his way. More effort went into placating him than in verifying results. The weakness of Barnes as a witness, and reasons for doubting him, were obvious from at least 1996, but should have been by 1993. But there was never a post-trial review, and efforts to re-open the matter in the numerous appeals seemed to founder on the confident assumption by judges that even if Barnes had got it wrong, police and prosecutors would have discovered it. Ergo, no great reason for concern. One judge who conducted a review used just these results to declare that he was completely convinced of the man's guilt......... Almost all of the problems identified by Martin were obvious in the 1990s. I think they would be repeated today by the fresh generations of people who will not listen and will not learn. "