Appeal Court rejects Post Office’s plea for Horizon trial judge’s recusal

Photo: iStock

In a serious blow to Post Office, the Court of Appeal has rejected the application appealing against the trial judge’s decision not to recuse himself in the ongoing Horizon case.

Justice Coulson Friday refused the permission to appeal without a hearing, saying that the application by the Post Office “never had any substance and was rightly rejected by the judge.”

Post Office filed the recusal application against Justice Fraser of the Technology and Construction Court, alleging that he was ‘biased’ in the judgement in the Common Issues trial, first of the planned series of four trials in the group litigation, which went in favour of the sub-postmasters.

Post Office approached the Court of Appeal after Justice Fraser rejected the application on April 9.

Justice Coulson, in his judgement, observed that the move by Post Office is effectively a ‘delaying’ tactic.

“The mere making of these applications could have led to the collapse of [Horizon] sub-trial altogether. Although I can reach no concluded view on the matter, I can at least understand why the SPMs [Sub-postmaster claimants] originally submitted on 21 March that that was its purpose,” he said.

The Horizon Issues trial is set to resume in late May to hear expert IT evidence.

Over 550 current and former sub-postmasters, who brought the group litigation against the Post Office, say the Horizon IT system used in their branches caused financial discrepancies, for which they were held accountable.