John Lloyd obituary

My father, John Lloyd, who has died aged 89, was a productive and talented forensic scientist, whose rigorous analytical skills overturned a series of prominent miscarriages of justice.

John joined the civil service as a forensic chemist in 1966 in the Birmingham forensic laboratory, and developed analytical methods for traces of compounds left by car tyres, explosive or gunfire residues. He published more than 40 academic papers, and his work was recognised with conferment of the degree of doctor of science by Aston University in 1983. He also contributed to international conferences, such as the International Symposium on Analysis and Detection of Explosives in Jerusalem in 1992.

As a scientist, integrity and accuracy were of paramount importance to John. The unreliability of the forensic evidence used to convict the Birmingham Six in 1975 led him to re-evaluate this work, and his testimony supported the case for their acquittal in 1991.

After his retirement in 1991, John contributed, as a consultant, to appeals of miscarriages of justice, including those concerning the Maguire family, Judith Ward and Barry George. He was an expert witness to the Bloody Sunday inquiry, and for the defence of the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing. He also contributed to the public debate regarding forensic evidence through the BBC’s Panorama programme.

John Lloyd performing with the Don Langley Dance Band in Birmingham in 1952
John Lloyd, front, second from right, performing with the Don Langley Dance Band in Birmingham in 1952

John was born in Hull, east Yorkshire, to Laura (nee Ford) and Ian Lloyd, who also had two daughters, Valerie and Susan. His father was an accountant, and became a salesman for the paint manufacturer Paripan. The family settled in Birmingham but at the beginning of the second world war was evacuated to Kepwick in North Yorkshire, where John developed a lifelong interest in wildlife (particularly ornithology) and music, influenced by his uncles, Hugh and Tom.

The family returned to Birmingham in 1944. John continued his education at King Edward VI Camp Hill grammar school, obtaining employment as a brewing chemist at the Mitchells and Butlers brewery in 1951. There, he met and in 1956 married Joyce Fanthom. Throughout this period, John performed as a semi-professional clarinettist and saxophonist, and at one point was serious about making a career in music.

However, he settled on chemistry, gaining while at M&B an associateship of the Royal Institute (now Society) of Chemistry in 1963. John then completed a PhD in organic chemistry at Aston University in 1966, and was subsequently awarded a fellowship of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1971.

For his contribution to forensic science, my father was appointed OBE in 1990. Dad was modest – we discovered the insignia he received in his wardrobe. He found time for family as well as science, and continued his interests in music (he would often regale us with Summertime on the clarinet), ornithology and fly fishing. During retirement, Dad supported Mum’s passion of flower arranging. She developed Alzheimer’s disease in 2008 and Dad cared for her with love and devotion at home until her final two months in 2011.

He is survived by my sister, Bryony, and me, and three grandchildren, Megan, Antonia and Evan.


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