More

    Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill to be debated in Lords

    (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

    Members of the House of Lords will discuss the primary objectives of the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill on Monday (13).

    The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will quash the convictions of postmasters and others in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who were charged with theft, fraud and related offences as a consequence of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

    During second reading, members will discuss the main topics in the bill and draw attention to specific concerns or areas where they think amendments (changes) are needed.

    Expected contributing members are Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom (Conservative), member of the Post Office Horizon Scandal Compensation Advisory Board, Lord Etherton (Crossbench), former Head of Civil Justice, HM Judiciary, Bishop of Manchester, joint chair of the NPCC National Police Ethics Committee and Lord Sikka (Labour), director of the Association for Accountancy and Business.

    With the second reading, the mass exoneration of wrongfully convicted Post Office managers caught up in the Horizon IT scandal has come a step closer in the UK.

    The bill quashes all relevant convictions of offences such as theft, fraud and false accounting allegedly committed between 1996 and 2018 by people working in post offices in England and Wales that used the Horizon system software. People who have already had their case considered by the court of appeal will not be eligible.

    The ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office once again put the injustice in the spotlight, prompting uproar from public and media alike, calling for speedy actions. Due to backlog in the courts, it could take years for individual cases to be resolved. As well as the injustice of the convictions themselves, people are not eligible for compensation until they are overturned.

    However, some legal figures have warned that by legislating to overturn convictions, parliament is interfering with judicial independence and setting a dangerous precedent.

    Meanwhile, the Horizon IT enquiry is still on. Most recently, barrister Simon Clarke told the Horizon IT inquiry he was “misled and deceived” throughout the scandal by Post Office lawyers Jarnail Singh and Rodric Williams, particularly in the case of jailed subpostmistress Seema Misra.

    He described an instruction to shred meeting minutes about Horizon bugs allegedly given by the company’s then-head of security John Scott as a “deliberate back-covering exercise”.

    Clarke worked as a barrister for law firm Cartwright King at the time he advised the Post Office – and said he told the company to cease prosecutions after learning that leading Horizon engineer Gareth Jenkins had not disclosed knowledge about bugs in the system.

    The witness said in a statement to the inquiry: “Looking back, I now see what appears to have been three strands of thought within the Post Office on the topic of disclosure.

    “The first strand amounted to an article of faith: ‘Horizon is both robust and reliable — there is nothing wrong with it and if Horizon says money is missing, then it is missing’.

    “The second strand considered that the cost of providing disclosure was prohibitive and should always be discouraged. The third strand, I felt, arose out of an almost religious panic: ‘Horizon must not be seen to have been impugned’.”

    During an exchange with chairman Sir Wyn Williams, Mr Clarke told the inquiry it was now his view that the prosecution file in the case of Mrs Misra was “deliberately withheld” from him by the Post Office.

    Latest

    FBC UK extends Crunch Creams range with two new flavours

    Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC UK) is adding two new...

    Rustlers turns up the volume for the next instalment of ‘Boost Your Burger’ campaign

    Retailers can give their shoppers hundreds of chances to...

    Hundreds of prizes up for grabs with Whaoo! Crêpes on-pack promotion!

    Whaoo! filled crêpes, from French bakery experts Norac Foods...

    FBC UK partners with Ferrara Candy to import Nerds

    Fox’s Burton’s Companies UK (FBC UK), Britain’s second biggest...

    Don't miss

    FBC UK extends Crunch Creams range with two new flavours

    Fox’s Burton’s Companies (FBC UK) is adding two new...

    Rustlers turns up the volume for the next instalment of ‘Boost Your Burger’ campaign

    Retailers can give their shoppers hundreds of chances to...

    Hundreds of prizes up for grabs with Whaoo! Crêpes on-pack promotion!

    Whaoo! filled crêpes, from French bakery experts Norac Foods...

    FBC UK partners with Ferrara Candy to import Nerds

    Fox’s Burton’s Companies UK (FBC UK), Britain’s second biggest...

    Gravesend Premier store stripped of alcohol licence

    A Premier store in Kent has been stripped of...

    Gravesend Premier store stripped of alcohol licence

    A Premier store in Kent has been stripped of its licence to sell alcohol after repeatedly selling booze to local street drinkers on credit...

    Dominic Hall elected president of SPAR International  

    Dominic Hall, joint managing director of James Hall & Co Ltd, has been elected president of SPAR International.  The announcement of the inaugural election of...

    New study reveals consumer trends ahead of Paris Olympics

    More than half of high-income households across the top six European grocery markets are expected to catch Paris Olympics at home, a recent report...