A NORTH-East peer has triggered a furious row after calling for DNA from newborn babies to be stored on the national database.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, formerly Durham's senior police officer, said the move would help in the fight against crime and terrorism.

But the proposal was immediately attacked as "abusing the privacy of the innocent" by the Liberal Democrats, who oppose the Government's plans to expand the database.

DNA samples from more than 565,000 people across the North-East and North Yorkshire are already stored, a figure that has more than doubled in 18 months.

About 5,700 were taken from people arrested, but never convicted of an offence - provoking fierce criticism because the innocent are recorded alongside the guilty.

Now Lord Mackenzie, also a former head of the Chief Superintendents Association who was made a peer by Tony Blair, has gone further.

In a magazine article he wrote: "For the life of me, I cannot understand opposition to allowing the police to add to the database any person who passes through their hands.

"Indeed, if I had my way, the DNA we now take from newborn babies to check for genetic disorders would be added to the national database in the national interest.

"In the modern world, we need to use every advance in science at our disposal to protect the innocent against those who would destroy our civilisation for personal, ideological, political or selfish reasons."

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said: "The perverse logic of the Government's overuse of the DNA database is revealed in all its glory by these comments.

"Does Lord Mackenzie not understand that there is something amiss when he advocates abusing the privacy of the innocent to protect them from the guilty?

"The use of DNA is a powerful tool for crime detection, but there is no reason why the ancient distinction between guilt and innocence should not be maintained at the same time."