Post Office scandal – Court of Appeal quashes convictions of 3 more sub-postmasters and Post Office workers

Following a hearing at the Court of Appeal this morning, the convictions of two former sub-postmasters and one former counter clerk have been quashed on the grounds that their prosecutions were an abuse of process. 

This decision marks the latest chapter in the Horizon IT scandal which resulted in the seminal judgment of the Court of Appeal in Hamilton & Others [2021] EWCA Crim 577 on 23 April 2021, in which the Court held that the private prosecutions of 39 sub-postmasters had been “an affront to justice”. The British Government has since set up a statutory inquiry into the scandal, chaired by Sir Wyn Williams. The plight of the sub-postmasters has attracted national and international interest. 

In the cases before the Court of Appeal this morning, all appellants had told Post Office investigators that they had experienced unexplained shortfalls in their branch accounts and had not acted dishonestly. None were given disclosure about the problems with the Horizon system. All were prosecuted and each of them pleaded guilty, feeling that they had no other option but to do so. All three cases were identified by Post Office last year as cases in which no appeal would be opposed because, upon a review of the evidence, their prosecutions had clearly been unfair. 

The Court of Appeal expedited these appeals, which have been determined less than two weeks after being lodged at court. 

The appellants – NA, DB and AR – are represented by Kate O’Raghallaigh, instructed by Abby Taylor and Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors

In Hamilton & Others, Tim Moloney KC and Kate O’Raghallaigh were appointed lead advocates by the Court of Appeal and represented 29 of the 39 appellants for whom the Court found that the investigative and disclosure failings of Post Office Limited were “so egregious as to make the prosecution of any of the “Horizon cases” an affront to the conscience of the court” and that, in their conduct of the prosecutions, the Post Office “reversed the burden of proof”. The judgment of the Court in Hamilton has set a historic precedent for sub-postmasters whose convictions were based on the integrity of the Horizon IT system. 

Members of Doughty Street Tim Moloney KC, Kate O’Raghallaigh, Graeme HallAngela Patrick and Nick Brown are instructed for dozens of former sub-postmasters before the Court of Appeal, the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the Post Office Inquiry and in pursuing their claims for compensation.

For a link to the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Hamilton & Others, click here.

For more information on the case, click here.