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Mr. George Osborne (Tatton): I wish to present to the House a petition to save local justice in my county, organised by the Knutsford Guardian and many local shops, restaurants and businesses and signed by 2,603 local people in just a couple of weeks. The petition states:
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Lord Chancellor to intervene on the petitioners' behalf and block the planned closure of Knutsford Crown Court.
And the petitioners remain, etc.
Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke): On 23 April, the Minister for Sport replied to my parliamentary questions about UK Sport, a publicly funded body, and about the case of my constituent Mr. Paul Edwards. That followed an exchange of correspondence between the Minister and me in January and February, and a meeting in March between Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of UK Sport, Michelle Verroken, director of anti-doping, Paul Edwards, his advisers and me.
In those six months, UK Sport appears to have taken no effective action about Mr. Paul Edwards, and UK Athletics has refused to take any. The way forward that has been offered is, as I understand it, a recipe for even more delay. That does not inspire confidence in anti-doping procedures of the future.
There is no need for me to remind the Minister that UK Sport is wholly funded by taxpayers' and lottery money. Ultimate accountability for the use of that money rests with the Minister as a custodian of the public purse. In the case that we are considering, public money is working against individual justice.
Incredible to relate, the testing process in the case of Paul Edwards clearly infringed the code of the International Olympic Committee, UK Sport's requirements and those of the International Amateur Athletics Federation. The tests were therefore invalid and the case against Edwards collapses. UK Sport and UK Athletics have known that for many months.
In testing the samples, the British Athletic Federation infringed the IOC code of testing. Appendix C of article 5:6 demands that, to maintain the integrity of analysis, the two samples must be tested by entirely different personnel. If that is not possible, the B sample must be tested at a different laboratory. That did not happen with my constituent. The same person tested both samples in the same laboratory. The tests were therefore invalid.
The IOC medical code was also infringed. It requires the production of a chain of custody. A form, which accompanies the samples, must be signed by every custodian. In Edwards' case, it was never produced. When the deficiency was discovered, UK Sport tried to recreate one, but it did not account for the first 24 hours of the samples' transit. It is simply not possible to establish that the samples were kept free from contamination.
UK Sport's requirements were not observed. According to its newsletter in December 1996, the pH level of the sample had to be recorded by the sampling officer at the time of collection. In the case of Paul Edwards, the sampling officer did not do that. He thereby failed to follow the procedures required by UK Sport. By its own standards, the tests were invalid.
More than that, IAAF requirements were not observed. It has been accepted that poor storage leading to sample deterioration can distort epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratios. At the time, the IAAF required both pH and specific gravity data to be taken. In Edwards' case, they were not, so the tests also failed to conform to IAAF standards.
The IAAF would have required a second sample to be collected if the first sample had had a pH level in excess of 7the acceptable range being between 5 and 7. Even if the pH had been measured and accepted at 7, however, the laboratory reading of 7.3 would indicate deterioration in the sample between collection and testing, owing to poor storage after collection and before testing. Moreover, a pH reading of 7.3 exceeds accountability guidelines for the processing of samples. I understand that it was this point that eventually cleared Diane Modahl. In Edwards' case, it has been ignored.
The infringement of IOC, IAAF and UK Sport requirements is not the end of the story, however: it is nothing like it. Just as extraordinary is the fact that the laboratory never produced the calibration data without which the soundness of the testing process cannot be established. It cannot, therefore, be established that the tests were sound. The disciplinary committee chairman confirmed:
This is still not the end of the saga. For five years, my constituent has protested that information essential to his defence was withheld from him. The testing laboratory, UK Athletics and UK Sport denied this, time and again, until 5 February this year, when UK Athletics wrote to him:
It would be hard to compose a saga of greater incompetence than that involved in the circumstances of the testing process and hearings that led to the imposition of Paul Edwards' life ban. There were appalling irregularities and glaring inconsistencies: it was a total shambles. UK Athletics insists that the panels hearing Edwards' case were independent, yet all three were wholly appointed by UK Athletics. Moreover, at one of the hearings there was no one competent or qualified to receive scientific evidence.
Mr. David Moorcroft of UK Athletics is on record as saying that the standard of evidence required in dope-testing cases must be at least as high as the standard required in a criminal court. If only that were true. In a criminal court, the so-called evidence against Paul Edwards would have been thrown out years ago on the basis that it was fundamentally flawed.
The Minister is a fair and reasonable man. He will know, even if is not politic for him to acknowledge it publicly this evening, that any one of the irregularities I have listed would be sufficient for the charges to be dismissed in a criminal court of law. An appalling injustice has been inflicted on my constituent, and I am dismayed that UK Sport and UK Athletics have so far failed to deliver justice.
What confidence can anyone have that UK Sport can be an effective lead agency, and UK Athletics a led agency, in a national anti-doping policy that is consistent, transparent and accountable, when they cannot put right the monstrous injustice to my constituent that is being perpetrated? The time is long overdue for my constituent's life ban to be lifted. That is only right, and I appeal to the Minister.