Sandwich board man protests over DNA storage

PUBLISHED: 07:09 28 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:43 07 July 2010

Lee Wyatt protesting in Dereham

Lee Wyatt protesting in Dereham

A man who was cleared of committing a crime is marching the streets in Dereham wearing a sandwich board that calls for the record of his DNA kept on file to be destroyed.

A man who was cleared of committing a crime is marching the streets in Dereham wearing a sandwich board that calls for the record of his DNA kept on file to be destroyed.

Builder Lee Wyatt was arrested and charged with assault after a dispute with a bin man near his Bradenham home in December 2008.

In September last year magistrates in Swaffham cleared him of any wrongdoing, but his DNA and fingerprints have been stored on file by Norfolk Constabulary according to national guidelines.

Since the trial Mr Wyatt, 42, has written repeatedly the county's top officers calling for his information to be removed - a step the Home Office only endorses in “exceptional” cases, such as mistaken identity.

Frustrated, he has now taken to the streets in Dereham, Norwich and Swaffham wearing a sandwich board that reads: “I am asking people to tell me whether they would give a sample of their DNA and whether they think that mine should be kept on the database.”

Mr Wyatt started his campaign on Tuesday and has pledged to protest publically until he succeeds.

“It's the only way I can get my voice heard,” said My Wyatt. “And I will be doing this on and off forevermore until I get some justice.”

So far he has visited Swaffham Magistrates Court, Breckland Council's offices and Dereham Police Station, with plans to visit other courts in the county.

Mr Wyatt, who lives with wife Lesley, 39, in Southend, added: “It makes me livid that they have my DNA, it's not theirs to keep - if you are found not guilty of an offence any evidence they take should be given back.

“They have got my DNA forever more and it's a violation of my human right.”

DNA evidence has played a crucial part in solving a number of high profile cases, including that of Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright.

Last month it was reported that almost 1,000 innocent people in Norfolk have been added to the national DNA database despite a European ruling aimed at preventing the controversial practice.

However under new Home Office proposals, contained in the Crime and Security Bill going through parliament, DNA profiles would be destroyed six years after they are taken if a conviction does not follow.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said: “DNA retention is a proven, reliable and robust process used in the prevention and detection of crime.

“In this case the person involved had legitimately come into police contact following an incident and the above procedures were followed.”

A Home Office spokesman added: “We believe our proposals currently represent the most proportionate approach to DNA retention, as well as the most effective way of ensuring the database continues to help us tackle crime.”

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