Thursday, 18 November 2021

Horizon Trial: Authorities open their archives, with a few reservations; and more convictions quashed.

I wrote last week about the first "truly open session" of the Post Office Horizon IT Enquiry, and the fact that Sir Wyn Williams had asked all relevant authorities to waive legal professional privilege.

A week later we learn from Nick Wallis that Post Office Ltd, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK Government Investment, and Fujitsu Ltd.  All have agreed, with the Post Office raising the most reservations on situations still under way in the courts.  You can read all the responses on the Inquiry Website here.


Sir Wyn has now issued the following statement after receiving the responses:

“The responses of BEIS, UKGI and FUJITSU speak for themselves. The response of POL, on any view, goes a very long way towards meeting the request I made of them. It is clear to me that in respect of many of the most crucial lines of investigation for the Inquiry POL has waived legal professional privilege.”

“if, in the future, it becomes necessary to re-visit the issue of legal professional privilege on account of emerging evidence or for any other proper reason I will do so at an appropriate time and, if necessary, invite further submissions both in writing and orally.” 

 

As Nick Wallis has written in his new blog, postofficescandal.uk:

If the Post Office, government and Fujitsu really are going to turn over every substantive document to the inquiry, it will make for an interesting read.

For a start, we’ll get to see the Altman Review, written in October 2013 by Brian Altman QC - the same Brian Altman QC who acted for the Post Office in the Court of Appeal between November 2020 and April 2021.

Although we don’t yet know what the Altman Review says, it was such an important document that shortly after receiving it, the Post Office stopped prosecuting people, but also continued to deny any miscarriages of justice had taken place. It’ll be interesting to see the legal gymnastics going on there.

Although the Altman review is highlighted - it might be a conflict of interest? - there will be much more to be revealed to the Inquiry than was revealed or discovered at the Group Litigation case, and that caused a huge amount of new information to be disclosed.

 

More convictions quashed.

At Southwark Crown Court six more people wrongly convicted of financial crimes caused by the Horizon system have had their convictions overturned today.  The six overturned convictions included one person wrongly prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and five by the Post Office.

This takes the number of overturned convictions in the Post Office Horizon scandal to 65, with potentially many more to come.

UPDATE 23 November, from Nick Wallis:

Seven more Subpostmaster convictions have been quashed at the Court of Appeal, bringing the total number to 72. This represents just under a tenth of the 738 people convicted using Horizon evidence between 2000 and 2015 when the Post Office stopped prosecuting people.


Meanwhile Nick Wallis's book has been published today - with many saying that with this development, a second book is inevitable!


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