Eight more Post Office cases to be referred by the CCRC bringing the total to 47 so far
This release contains information about:
- Eight more Post Office cases to be referred by the CCRC bringing the total to 47 so far
- CCRC proposal to the Attorney General and Justice Select Committee that there be a review of when similar prosecutions are brought
- CCRC provisional decisions not to refer seven other Post Office cases
- Advice to potential applicants in other Post Office cases
- Details of how to request comment or an online or telephone interview with CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher
- Details of the eight cases referred today
Criminal Cases Review Commission has decided to refer a further eight Post Office workers’ convictions for appeal – this brings to 47 the number of cases to be sent for appeal so far on grounds related to the Horizon computer system.
All of the CCRC referrals so far are being made on the basis of an abuse of process argument concerning issues with the Post Office’s Horizon computer system which may have had an impact on the safety of the convictions.
Then CCRC believes the argument gives rise to a real possibility that the appeal courts will quash these convictions. More details about the circumstances of the convictions and the reasons for the CCRC referrals are set out below in our press release from 26th March in which we announced our decision to refer the first 39 cases. It can be seen here:
Those cases have now been formally referred with the individual applicants and the Court of Appeal having been sent CCRC Statements of Reasons setting out in detail the reasons for the decision.
The referral of the eight further cases has been decided and the formal referral will follow in the coming days.
As with the earlier 39 referrals, because of the Covid-19 lockdown, the CCRC decision-making committee met virtually to decide these cases using remote access IT technology.
Contact with Attorney General’s Office and Justice Select Committee
The CCRC has written to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Chairman of the Justice Select Committee proposing that a formal review should be conducted into when and how an organisation should be able act as a private prosecutor in cases where it is the victim as well as investigator of an alleged offence as the Post Office did in relation to the Horizon cases we have so far referred.
Paragraph 68 of the CCRC Statements of Reasons in cases referred to the Court of Appeal says:
“…in the context of POL’s combined status as victim, investigator and prosecutor of the offences in question – the CCRC considers that thereare reasons for significant concern as to whether POL at all times acted as a thorough and objective investigator and prosecutor, ensuring that all reasonable lines of inquiry were explored. The CCRC further considers that this concern applies to POL’s approach throughout the period 2001 to 2013, that is, the timespan of the convictions which are considered in this Statement of Reasons.”
We have said to the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Justice Select Committee, that, while the Post Office Limited’s combined status as victim, investigator and prosecutor is not part of the legal basis of our referrals to the appeal courts, the CCRC is firmly of the view that a formal review should be conducted into when and how it ought to be permissible for prosecutions to be brought in such circumstances.
Provisional decisions not or refer
The Commission has also decided to send to seven of our Post Office applicants Provisional Statements of Reasons documents setting out why we do not believe we are in a position to refer their cases for appeal. As is usual with CCRC cases reaching this stage, those applicants have been invited to respond to that provisional view and we will take account of responses before reaching a final decision
The CCRC is still working on the remaining seven cases from the 61 applications we have received. Most of the remaining cases relate to applications received relatively recently (i.e. in 2020). We are progressing those cases as quickly as we can.
Potential applicants in other Post Office cases
The CCRC is aware that the Post Office has identified several hundred prosecutions brought since the Horizon system was installed and that the Post Office is looking at those cases to see whether the CCRC referrals have any implications for them.
The CCRC’s position is that if anyone believes their criminal conviction may be unsafe because of the impact on their case of performance issues with the Horizon computer system, they should consider challenging their conviction.
If they have not already appealed and were convicted in a Crown Court, or were convicted in a magistrates’ court after pleading not guilty, they can still appeal in the normal way (seeking leave from the court where necessary). Guidance and the necessary forms can be found here: www.gov.uk/appeal-against-sentence-conviction
If they have already tried to appeal and failed, or pleaded guilty in a magistrates court (from where there is no right of appeal against conviction following a guilty plea), they should consider applying to the CCRC for a review of their Horizon-related conviction. Details of how to do so can be found on the CCRC website at www.ccrc.gov.uk
Interviews with CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher
CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher will be available for interview by phone or online. To make an arrangement call 07947 355231.
Details of cases referred today
The list below provides details of the eight cases in which referrals have been announced today. They details appear in this order:
Surname, Forename – Offence(s) – Date of Conviction – Court of Conviction.
Butoy, Harjinder – Theft – 25/9/08 – Nottingham CC
Williams, Margery – false representation 16/2/12 -Caernarfon CC
Warren, Ian – Theft – 30/3/09 Chelmsford CC
Blakey, David – Theft and false accounting -17/12/04 – Great Grimsby CC
Mahmood, Tahir – False accounting – 16/12/05 – Birmingham CC
Cleife, Julie – false representation – 26/10/10 – Basingstoke MC
Howard, Gillian – False accounting – 26/4/11 – Bradford CC
Yates, David – Theft and false accounting – 31/10/03 – Guilford CC
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission. He can be
reached on 07947 355 231 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.