Former Post Office workers with criminal convictions linked to the discredited Horizon computer system are being encouraged to apply to have their cases reviewed following this week’s government announcement that anyone with a quashed conviction related to the scandal will be offered £600,000 in compensation.
Many will be able to appeal directly to the courts, but those who have been unsuccessful or who have pleaded guilty in a Magistrate’s Court are encouraged to apply to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to review their case.
A review by the CCRC can lead to a conviction or sentence being referred to the courts for review and being overturned.
The CCRC has so far referred 68 cases related to Post Office convictions or sentences to the appellate courts.
While the Horizon scandal is already the most widespread miscarriage of justice the CCRC has ever reviewed, there are still thought to be many more unchallenged potentially unjust convictions.
A review can only take place with the consent of the person involved.
The CCRC has raised awareness of the options open to convicted sub-postmasters and Post Office counter staff. This has included:
- Writing directly to more than 350 former Post Office workers encouraging them to come forward to have their cases reviewed
- Creating a dedicated section on the CCRC website giving information about challenging a conviction or a sentence related to the Post Office/ Horizon scandal
- Briefing Members of Parliament and civil servants from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
- Continuing to have dialogue with Post Office Limited (POL) and with other agencies who prosecuted sub post masters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the jurisdiction of the CCRC), namely the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPSNI).
Helen Pitcher OBE, chairman of the CCRC, said: “Everybody affected by these failings should receive the justice they deserve.
“However, hundreds of potential applicants have still not come forward – whether that’s directly to the Court of Appeal or requesting a review from the CCRC.
“Some might understandably still be traumatised by what has happened to them and to their loved ones, but we can help and we encourage them to contact us.”
In addition to needing individual consent to review a case, cases involving Post Office staff cannot be issued as a batch because each case must be reviewed individually to determine whether the Horizon data was instrumental to the conviction. More information on this point can be found in this blog.
Anybody who thinks that their conviction might be affected by the issues with the Horizon system can contact the CCRC directly on 0121 233 1473 or find out more at www.ccrc.gov.uk/postofficecases/.
Notes to Editors
This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on: 0121 232 0900 or by email: email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
1. The CCRC 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 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
3. The CCRC 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 CCRC 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 CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc