A former post office worker has had her conviction of fraud by abuse of position overturned following a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
The CCRC investigates potential miscarriages of justice and is the only organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that can refer cases back to the court for appeal.
Elena Herd was a Customer Service Advisor at a Post Office in Stockport for nine years before being charged with fraud after a Post Office investigation into rejected post office labels.
She was sentenced by Stockport Magistrates’ Court to four months imprisonment (suspended for 12 months), 200 hours community service and to pay £500 compensation with costs of £100.
Following a detailed review, the CCRC decided that the case against Ms Herd relied on data from the Horizon computer system and therefore her conviction was unsafe.
The organisation has now referred 63 cases related to Post Office Horizon convictions back to the courts, resulting in 57 convictions being overturned – making it the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history.
CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said: “Anybody who believes a conviction was due to problems with the Horizon computer system can consider challenging the conviction.
“Our service is free and there is no time limit to applying to us. People can also apply on behalf of somebody else, including people who have passed away.”
The CCRC has previously written to hundreds of former sub-postmasters and counter staff whose convictions may be affected to let them know how they can challenge their convictions should they wish to do so.
Anybody who thinks that their conviction might be affected can contact the CCRC directly on 0121 233 1473 or find out more at www.ccrc.gov.uk/postofficecases/.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- 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