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University of Leicester Professor honoured at The Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards

Sir Alec Jeffreys revolutionised crime-fighting technology

[Daily Mirror story]
University of Leicester's Sir Alec Jeffreys received the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT award
at The Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards 2004 on Monday, March 15.

Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair headed the list of celebrities who honoured the nation's unsung heroes at the star-studded ceremony on London's Park Lane.

Serial killers and rapists have been caught and convicted, the innocent freed, and families reunited - all thanks to the ground-breaking work of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys.

The 54-year-old academic is the pioneer of the revolutionary crime-fighting technology known as genetic fingerprinting.

More than two million DNA profiles are now held on the UK's National Database alone - and sixty countries, including the United States use the technique Sir Alec Jeffreys discovered to combat crime, identify family links in paternity cases, decide immigration disputes and even fight the illegal smuggling of endangered animal species.

In the trials of the Washington snipers last year an FBI expert testified that DNA evidence from the two accused was found on the rifle and the rifle sight.

On this side of the Atlantic Sarah Payne's killer Roy Whiting was convicted with the help of the technology, as was Soham murderer Ian Huntley.

And further afield the remains of the last Tsar of Russia and his family were only identified because of Sir Alec's work.

When he first mooted the idea of applying the new technology to criminal
investigations he was literally laughed at.

Sir Alec, Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor of Genetics at the University of Leicester, says: "Now every time you turn the TV on you hear DNA has led to another conviction.

"It's my baby. I feel like a doting father to the technology. It has impacted on heavens knows how many people in a very direct and personal way.

"Since my discovery the speed and sensitivity has increased, but basically it is the same. At the end of the day it did start with me in my lab and I am extremely proud."

The Pride of Britain judges said: "DNA fingerprinting technology is vital throughout police work and in paternity and immigration cases, helps solve many mysteries and saves many innocent people from prison. Sir Alec has made a massive contribution to the world."

More than 100 stars from the worlds of showbiz, sport and politics united for the sixth year of Britain's most remarkable awards ceremony.

Among them were Sir Michael Caine, Sharon and Jack Osbourne, Michael Owen,
Diana Ross, Sir John Mills, the Duchess of York and Blue.

Receiving the awards were an array of truly extraordinary people, from all walks of life, of all ages, from across the UK, who share one thing in common - they are an inspiration to others.

They have all done something quite exceptional - ranging from acts of remarkable courage and displays of unbelievable compassion or devotion, to outstanding personal achievement.

This year HRH The Prince of Wales is again involved in the Awards. He is personally backing a category to recognise young people who have turned their lives around to help others - The Prince's Trust Young Achiever Award.

Prince Charles says: "The Pride of Britain Awards remind us of the compassion, decency and courage which still exists in every corner of the land.

"I could not be more pleased that, for the fourth year running, there is a category which recognises the achievements of those who have been supported by the Prince's Trust."

Hosted by Carol Vorderman, The Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards makes sure these real British heroes get the recognition they deserve.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says: "Thanks to The Daily Mirror, I have been very lucky to be associated with these awards from the very start. In six years, they have grown into a permanent feature of the national calendar, attracting millions of TV viewers.

"Everyone who hears the stories of the award winners will be humbled by
their remarkable courage, sacrifice and commitment ? and will marvel, too,
at their modesty."

The judges - Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens, Sir Richard Branson, Gary Lineker, Lady Heather Mills-McCartney, Carol Vorderman, GMTV's Eamonn Holmes and Fiona Phillips, Mirror Editor Piers Morgan and previous Prince's Trust winner Sarah Bennett - chose the winners from a shortlist of nominations from The Daily Mirror readers and GMTV viewers.

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Last updated: 9 December 2003 11:00
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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