The Legal Instances Assessment Fee (CCRC) is asking on extra of the 736 subpostmasters prosecuted for monetary crimes based mostly on laptop proof from the Publish Workplace to come back ahead to have their convictions reviewed.
A complete of 83 former subpostmaster prison convictions have been overturned since April 2021. This yr, as a part of its work reviewing victims of the Publish Workplace Horizon scandal, the CCRC has written to 326 individuals who might have been wrongly convicted of theft and fraud – however solely 39 individuals have responded thus far.
When, in 2000, the Publish Workplace changed handbook accounting practices with the Horizon laptop system from Fujitsu, subpostmasters started reporting unexplained shortfalls in vital numbers. The Publish Workplace instructed every of them that no person else was experiencing issues and coated up the pc errors.
Former subpostmasters and department staff had been convicted of monetary crimes after being blamed for unexplained accounting shortfalls in Publish Workplace branches, a few of whom had been despatched to jail. 1000’s suffered losses, many subpostmasters had been made bankrupt and there are suicides linked to the struggling brought on.
A Excessive Court docket group litigation, which resulted in December 2019, proved that the computer system used in branches contained errors which might trigger unexplained shortfalls.
Regardless of large media protection immediately, many potential wrongful convictions haven’t been reviewed. CCRC chair Helen Pitcher stated: “Some former Publish Workplace staff could also be unaware of the companies we provide, that are utterly free to make use of. Others may understandably nonetheless be traumatised by what has occurred to them and to their family members. However we might help, and we’d encourage them to contact us. Searching for recommendation from us on the right way to problem a conviction may in the end result in the case being overturned, and a miscarriage of justice being corrected.
“We would like all of those that had been convicted and broken by these unprecedented failings to obtain the justice they deserve, in the event that they need to problem their convictions.
Helen Pitcher, CCRC
The CCRC has this week referred its sixty fourth case again to the courts for attraction. The statutory physique additionally has an extra 24 circumstances below overview.
The newest referral is that of former Publish Workplace clerk Amer Hussain, who was convicted of eight counts of theft in 2005, when he pleaded responsible at a Bristol Magistrates’ Court docket to eight counts of theft amounting to about £3,300. He was sentenced to a neighborhood punishment and curfew order, and ordered to pay compensation of £6,750.
The case was referred over issues in regards to the Horizon laptop system. Of the 83 former subpostmaster convictions that have been overturned, most had been referred to attraction by the CCRC.
Computer Weekly first reported on problems with the IT system in 2009, when it made public the tales of a bunch of subpostmasters being blamed for unexplained losses (see timeline of Laptop Weekly articles under).
There may be at the moment a statutory public inquiry into the scandal, which can run till autumn 2023. Hearings in phase two of seven of the inquiry have simply been concluded.