Over a dozen rape and other sexual assault cases may be in jeopardy after the Metropolitan Police confirmed that specialist investigators are looking into allegations relating to the suspected mishandling of forensic examinations in the London force's forensic laboratory. 

The Met, on its website this afternoon, said the directorate of professional standards is investigating allegations that a forensic scientist working in the Forensic Services did not complete the requisite exams and, in some cases, wrongly informed investigators about the progress of exams. The scientist was suspended in March as part of the investigation.

An internal review has found that 33 separate criminal investigations have been affected: 21 relate to investigations into rape and other sexual assaults; 12 relate to violence, burglary and drugs offences. The cases relate to crimes where items were submitted for forensic examination between 2012 and 2017.

The Met says it is urgently conducting a review 'to understand whether there is any risk to the criminal justice process and to take remedial action where necessary'. However, the police force says it is satisfied that there are no other instances of undeclared casework following a 'full audit' of scientists' workloads.

The case has been referred to the Forensic Science Regulator.