CCRC to refer 39 Post Office cases on abuse of process argument

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has so far decided to refer for appeal the convictions of 39 Post Office applicants. 

The Commission will be referring all those cases, which involve convictions for theft, fraud and false accounting, on the basis of the argument that each prosecution amounted to an abuse of process. (The details of the individual cases being referred are listed at the end of this release). 

The abuse of process argument is based on issues with the Post Office’s Horizon computer system which may have had an impact on the cases referred. 

The argument arises out of two civil court judgments – the Common Issues Judgment of the 15th March 2019 (Bates v Post Office [2019] EWHC 606 (QB)), and particularly the Horizon Issues Judgment handed down on the 16th December 2019 (Bates v Post Office [2019] EWHC 3408 (QB)). 

The CCRC can only refer a case for appeal if it considers that there is new evidence or new argument that raises a real possibility that the appeal court will quash the conviction(s). 

The 39 cases to be referred are among a total of 61[1] applications to the CCRC from Post Office applicants. 

In relation to the remaining 22 cases, the CCRC has further work to do before it will be in a position to announce decisions as to whether or not it can refer those cases. 

Those involved in the Post Office cases at the CCRC will continue their work and the decision-making committee will convene again as necessary so that the remaining decisions can be made and communicated as soon as possible. 

Unusually, and because of the Covid-19 situation, the CCRC decision making committee met virtually using remote access IT technology over two days on the 24th and 25th March.

The referrals will be formally made when the appropriate papers are sent to the relevant appeal courts (35 cases will be referred to the Court of Appeal as convictions obtained in Crown Court, and four will be referred to the Crown Court as magistrates’ court convictions). Covid-19 restrictions may mean that that process may now take a some time to complete. 

Helen Pitcher, Chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, said: “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. 

“The Covid-19 situation threatened to delay things but we used an IT solution to resolve that and we will continue to do whatever we need to in order to make decisions in the remaining cases as quickly as we reasonably can.”

Mrs Pitcher  can be available for remote access interview from 1.30pm on Thursday 26th March. To make an arrangement, call 07947 355 231.


[1] Twenty seven of the 61 Post Office applications received to date have arrived since December 16th when the Horizon Issues Judgment was handed down. The referrals announced include applications received before and after that date.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 07947 355 231 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk

Notes for editors

1.    The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.

2.    There are currently nine Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.

3.    The Commission usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.

4.    The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.

5.    If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.

6.    More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate

The list below provides details of all of the cases whose referral has been announced today. They details appear in this order:

Surname, forename – Offence(s) – Date of Conviction – Court of Conviction

Ashraf, Kamran – Theft – 28/1/04 – South Western Mags’ Court
Barang, Jasvinder – Fraud 3/8/12 – Luton Mags’ Court
Brennan, Lisa – Theft – 4/9/03 – Liverpool Crown Court
Buffrey, Wendy – False accounting – 17/10/10 – Gloucester Crown Court
Burgess, Tim – False accounting – 12/8/11 – Teesside Crown Court
Capon, Barry – Theft and false accounting – 9/10/09 – Ipswich Crown Court
Clark, Nicolas – False accounting – 23/2/10 – Doncaster Crown Court
Cousins, Wendy – Theft – 5/5/09 – St Albans Crown Court
Darlington, Scott – False accounting – 22/2/10 – Chester Crown Court
Fell, Stanley – False accounting – 27/7/07 – Leicester Crown Court
Felstead, Tracy – Theft + false accounting – 2001 – Kingston-Upon-Thames CC
Gill, Kashmir – False accounting – June 2010 Oxford Crown Court
Graham, William – False accounting – 14/1/11 – Maidstone Crown Court
Hall, Alison – False accounting – 30/6/11 – Leeds Crown Court
Hamilton, Jo – False accounting – 2008 – Winchester Crown Court
Hedges, David – Theft and false accounting – 7/1/11 – Lincoln Crown Court
Henderson, Allison – False accounting – 15/12/10 – Norwich Crown Court
Holmes, Peter – False accounting – 22/12/09 -Newcastle-Upon-Tyne CC
Hussain, Neelam – Theft – 20/6/11 – Wolverhampton Crown Court
Hutchings, Lynette – False accounting – 30/7/12 – Portsmouth Crown Court
Ishaq, Khayyam – Theft – 7/3/13 – Bradford Crown Court
McDonald, Jacqueline – Theft and false accounting – 2011 – Preston CC
Misra, Seema – Theft and false accounting – 21/10/10 – Guildford CC
O’Connell, Dawn -False accounting – 12/9/08 – Harrow Crown Court
Owen, Damien – Theft – 7/12/11 – Mold Crown Court
Page, Carl, Theft – 1/1/07 – Stafford Crown Court
Parekh, Vijay – Theft – 8/11/1 – Harrow Crown Court
Patel, Vipinchandra – Fraud – 3/6/11 – Oxford Mags’ Court
Rasul, Mohammed – Theft – 20/6/07 Manchester (Minshull) Crown Court
Robinson, Della – False accounting – 30/11/12 – Manchester Crown Court
Rudkin, Susan – False accounting – 23/3/09 – Stafford Crown Court
Sayer, Siobhan – False accounting – 15/2/10 Norwich Crown Court
Shaheen, Rubbina- False accounting – 22/11/10 – Shrewsbury Crown Court
Skinner, Janet – False accounting – 5/1/07 – Kingston Upon Hull Crown Court
Thomas, Hughie – False accounting – June 2006 – Caernarfon Crown Court
Thomson, Pauline – False accounting – 1/2/10 – Maidstone Crown Court
Trousdale, Christopher – False accounting – 8/3/04 Scarborough Mags’ Court
Ward, Gail – False accounting -15/10/07 – Bristol Crown Court
Wilson, Julian – False accounting – 15/6/09 – Worcester Crown Court