TWO further Post Office convictions related to alleged cash shortfalls have been referred to the Crown Court due to concerns about the discredited Horizon computer system.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) concluded that the convictions depended on flawed Horizon computer data and there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will overturn the convictions.
In the past 15 months the CCRC has contacted more than 300 people regarding potentially unjust convictions stemming from the faulty Horizon evidence. The CCRC has now referred 66 cases back to the courts.
CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said:
“We are committed to raising awareness of the options open to convicted sub-postmasters and counter staff.
“This is the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British history, and we might be able to help many more people challenge a Post Office conviction or clear the name of a loved one who has since died.
“Advice from us might ultimately lead to that case being overturned, and a miscarriage of justice being corrected.”
The latest referrals include Andrew Gilbertson, who pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 19 March 2002 to the theft of £24,870.71. Mr Gilbertson was later given a 6-month prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court which was suspended for 2 years. As Mr Gilbertson had pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court, he was unable to appeal against his conviction.
However, Mr Gilbertson was prompted to ask for a review of his conviction following the landmark quashing of 39 similar CCRC cases at the Court of Appeal in April 2021.
The second referral is of a former Post Office employee (“Mrs P”) who was based in the East Midlands and has requested anonymity. The case put forward by the CCRC relates to a guilty plea for a historical conviction for theft.
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/. You can apply to the CCRC to have a Post Office conviction reviewed or ask for information on how to appeal directly to the Courts where a right of appeal still exists.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
- Both CCRC applicants are represented by Hudgell Solicitors.
- 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.