POST OFFICE: HORIZON SCANDAL – CCRC REFERS 39 CASES FOR APPEAL

POST OFFICE: HORIZON SCANDAL – CCRC REFERS 39 CASES FOR APPEAL

Further to LTB 145/20 dated 20th March 2020.

The CCRC met for two days, 24th & 25th March, (remotely) to make the decision on whether to refer the cases of 61 wrongfully convicted Postmasters for appeal. I wish to advise Branches that an announcement was made this morning that the CCRC has now referred for appeal 39 cases (35 to the Court of Appeal as convictions were obtained in Crown Court and 4 to the Crown Court as they had a magistrates’ court conviction) on the basis that each prosecution amounted to an abuse of process due to issues with the Post Office’s Horizon computer system which may have had an impact on the cases referred.

For the remaining 22 cases, we understand the majority of these are relatively new applicants to the CCRC and therefore the Commission needs more time to consider them.

Helen Pitcher, Chairman of the CCRC, stated:

“This is by some distance the largest number of cases we will ever have referred for appeal at one time. Our team has got through a huge amount of work, particularly since the judgment in December, in order to identify the grounds on which we are referring these cases… we will continue to do whatever we need to in order to make decisions in the remaining cases as quickly as we reasonably can.”

We believe the Court of Appeal is likely to consider the 35 cases “en masse”. However, this will depend upon the CCRC’s recommendation to the Judges.

The link to the statement from the CCRC is as follows:

https://ccrc.gov.uk/ccrc-to-refer-39-post-office-cases-on-abuse-of-process- argument/

Obviously, we welcome the decision of the CCRC. Some of the former Postmasters have been waiting for many years for justice and now they will most likely have their convictions quashed. Unfortunately, and very sadly, one of the 39 Postmasters, Julian Wilson passed away four years ago before receiving the justice he campaigned

for, for many years and so deserved. His widow was in court during the trials last year wherever possible to listen to the evidence and the final judgement. The Wilsons’ story was reported as part of the Daily Mail’s coverage of the trial:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6797193/More-500-village-postmasters- wrongly-hounded-stealing-millions-system.html

Nick Wallis, the independent journalist who has been following this matter closely, has published an update on his blog which can be accessed as follows:

https://www.postofficetrial.com/2020/03/ccrc-refer-39-post-office-cases-to.html

An article was also published today in Computer Weekly by Karl Flinders who has also been instrumental in publicising the plight of these wrongly convicted Postmasters for many years:

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252480655/Subpostmaster-prosecutions- to-be-considered-by-Court-of-Appeal-for-miscarriages-of-justice

In conclusion, if it wasn’t for the desperate situation surrounding the coronavirus, this travesty of justice would be the biggest story across the UK; the scale of this injustice cannot be overestimated. I also wish to reiterate we are calling for a judge- led full public inquiry into this scandal and the decision from the CCRC reinforces this requirement. We are also calling for those responsible to be held to account as, to date, no Post Office Director has been dismissed for their part in this national scandal.

Finally, I wish to reiterate our call for the Post Office to recognise the CWU as an independent Trade Union for Postmasters, as a mechanism to ensure this appalling situation can never happen again. Nobody can ignore the part the NFSP has played in not supporting the Postmasters through this horrendous ordeal.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Furey 

Assistant Secretary

20LTB157

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