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CCRC watching Post Office Horizon trial closely

The Criminal Courts Review Commission considering judgment in subpostmasters versus Post Office litigation trial

The Criminal Courts Review Commission (CCRC) is considering the recent judgment in the subpostmasters versus Post Office trial and will update applicants in current investigation soon.

Since 2015, the CCRC has been reviewing cases where subpostmasters believe they were wrongfully prosecuted for offences such as theft and false accounting, as a result from problems with the Post Office’s Horizon IT system through which they file accounts.

Late last year, the CCRC said it would wait until the first judgment in the current group litigation order (GTO) – in which 500 former subpostmasters are seeking damages for the suffering they experienced because of unexplained discrepancies in accounts, which they blame on errors in the Horizon system – before deciding when to make decisions on around 30 cases. 

The CCRC will now consider the long and detailed judgment before deciding whether to wait until the end of the current trial, which focuses on the Horizon system, which is the second of four planned.

In 2009, Computer Weekly revealed that the lives of some subpostmasters, who run Post Office branches, were turned upside down as a result of being fined, sacked, made bankrupt and even imprisoned because of unexplained accounting shortfalls. Some claimants were sent to prison, including one while pregnant. They blame the accounting and retail system they use, known as Horizon, for the problems. The Post Office denies this.

A CCRC spokesperson said: “In the end, the [the first trial] judgment was handed down on 15 March, at a time when the Horizon trial was already underway. As you would expect, we are giving careful consideration to the lengthy and detailed judgment on the common issues trial.”

The first trial was focused on the contractual relationship between the Post Office and subpostmasters. The judgement was scathing of the Post Offices behaviuor. The judge ruled that the Post Office showed “oppressive behaviour” in response to claimants accused of accounting errors they blamed on Horizon IT system.

The CCRC spokesperson said: “We are paying close attention to proceedings in the Horizon issues trial, which is currently ongoing at the High Court. The CCRC is acutely aware of the need to ensure that relevant matters from the High Court proceedings are considered in the review of the applications to the CCRC.

“The CCRC will shortly be writing to the applicants to the CCRC with an update on our review of their cases.”

Timeline of the Post Office Horizon case since Computer Weekly first reported on it in 2009

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