Six extra individuals wrongly convicted of monetary crimes attributable to an error-prone Put up Workplace laptop system had their convictions overturned right this moment in Southwark Crown Court docket.
The six overturned convictions included one particular person wrongly prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and 5 by the Put up Workplace.
This takes the variety of overturned convictions within the Put up Workplace Horizon scandal to 65, with probably many extra to return. It’s typically described as the most important miscarriage of justice in trendy British authorized historical past.
The decide stated: “All of the defendants can stroll away from court docket with no stains on their characters.”
A complete of 736 individuals have been prosecuted primarily based on proof from the Horizon accounting and retail system utilized in 11,000 branches nationwide.
In 2009, a Laptop Weekly investigation revealed that subpostmasters have been being blamed for unexplained accounting shortfalls, which started to occur quickly after accounts at branches have been automated by the introduction of the Horizon system from Fujitsu.
It was then that Laptop Weekly advised the tales of seven subpostmasters affected by the issues, which led many extra who had suffered losses to return ahead (see a timeline of articles by Laptop Weekly beneath).
A Excessive Court docket judgment in 2019, after years of campaigning by subpostmasters, dominated that Horizon was not sturdy and that its errors might trigger unexplained shortfalls.
Since then, 65 former subpostmasters who have been prosecuted have had their convictions overturned.
In court docket right this moment, Balbir Grewal, of Romford Essex, had his conviction from 2001 overturned. Grewal was convicted quickly after Horizon was rolled out in Put up Workplace branches. After 20 years of dwelling with a wrongful felony conviction, Grewal stated he was relieved after having “combined emotions about whether or not to attend court docket”.
“I’ve solely been in court docket as soon as earlier than in my life, and that was after I was convicted,” stated the daddy of three. “This conviction utterly destroyed my life.”
Grewal was the primary in his household to go to college, certified and labored as an accountant earlier than working a profitable enterprise within the US. On his return from the US, he determined to make use of his financial savings to purchase a Put up Workplace for £150,000.
He started struggling shortfalls of some hundred kilos and would cowl them, believing he had made errors. However the shortfalls bought larger and, after auditors visited, he was prosecuted. “I requested the world supervisor for assist with the issue, however the auditors have been introduced in,” he stated.
Grewal has since been unable to get work on account of his conviction. “I attempted to maintain it a secret and, to at the present time, I’ve not advised my mother and father. Some members of the family in all probability suppose I’m nonetheless an accountant,” he stated.
In a press release, the Put up Workplace apologised for its failures. “While we can’t change the previous, we have now taken decided motion to make sure there’s acceptable redress,” it acknowledged. “Forward of ultimate compensation, we’re expediting affords of interim funds of as much as £100,000 to individuals whose convictions have been overturned the place the reliability of Horizon knowledge was important to the prosecution.”