AN exceptional and talented scientist, who was director of the Scotland Yard Forensic Science Laboratory from 1968 until 1987, has passed away.

Born on November 27, 1927, Ray Williams graduated at the University of Oxford in 1949 with a first class honours degree in natural science, specialising in chemistry. He obtained his Doctorate in 1952 at Oxford and continued his research into infrared spectroscopy and polymer chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1955 Ray started an illustrious career with the Ministry of Defence at the Explosives Research and Development Establishment at Waltham Abbey. He was rapidly promoted to Principal Scientific Officer in 1958 and to the role of Senior Principal Scientific Officer in 1962.

Ray was Superintendent of the Analytical Group and then Superintendent of the Non-metallic Materials Group. He published over 60 scientific papers and was awarded his DSc degree by the University of Oxford in 1967.

In 1968 he was appointed Director of the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory, commuting daily to London from his Bournemouth home.

Within a short time Ray had procured an electron microscope primarily for the examination of gunshot residues and other applications. He continued to encourage the development of instrumental methods of chemical analysis to solve forensic science problems.

Widely read in scientific matters, he encouraged his staff to attend scientific courses, setting up a course for forensic chemists at the University of East Anglia where he was a visiting professor in chemistry.

Ray was the recipient of many prodigious awards including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Theophilus Redwood lecture in 1984 of which he was particularly proud. He was a Fellow of the Forensic Science Society and president between 1983 and 1985, chairing the Professional Awards Committee for many years before finally retiring in 1996.

He described his time at the laboratory as “the most satisfying and exciting period” of his life.

Ray was awarded the CBE in the New Year’s Honours in 1987 and presented to the Queen. He continued to lecture on scientific matters and edit two scientific journals.

An accomplished lawn tennis player, Ray also played squash and tennis, up until about a year ago.

Ray died on November 19 and is survived by his wife, Sylvia and their children, Christopher and Stephanie.