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A dozen more subpostmaster prosecutions quashed in Horizon scandal

Twelve more former subpostmasters have had wrongful convictions for financial crimes overturned in the Court of Appeal

A further 12 former subpostmasters have had their wrongful convictions for financial crimes quashed in the Court of Appeal as part of one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in history.

The successful appeals, which were unopposed by the Post Office, take the total number of subpostmasters who have had convictions overturned to 59.

They were overturned during a hearing at the Court of Appeal where a total of 30 former subpostmasters were appealing criminal convictions. A total of 18 appeals were opposed by the Post Office and a further hearing will take place at a later date.

Robert Ambrose, Hasmukh Shingadia, John Armstrong, Jerry Hosi, Gurdeep Singh Dhale, Rizwan Manjra, John Dickson, Abiodun Omotoso, Timothy Brentnall, Sami Sabet, Carina Price and Malcolm Watkins all had their convictions overturned.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors, who represented the subpostmasters, said: “Today is another step forward in terms of maintaining the momentum and ensuring we continue to contest every unsafe conviction as a result of the Post Office using its faulty Horizon computer system to pursue prosecutions against decent, honest, law-abiding people.

“Once again we have been proud to represent a group of people who did no wrong, who were bullied into admitting to crimes they had not committed, made to pay back large sums of money they had not taken, and who saw their lives irreparably damaged as a result.

“This group again includes people who spent time in prison. Sadly, what happened to each individual and their families can never be reversed. That makes it all the more important for it to be recognised by the Post Office and the courts.”

Following the hearing, Hasmukh Shingadia, who ran a Post Office and local shop in Upper Bucklebury, said: “Of course, I’ve known I was innocent all along, but for the past decade the legal system has labelled me a criminal, as it has so many others, and that is disgusting.

“I’ve known I was innocent all along, but for the past decade the legal system has labelled me a criminal, as it has so many others, and that is disgusting”
Hasmukh Shingadia, former subpostmaster

“It was an awful time for us when I was convicted. My mother had died the previous year, I’d had cancer and undergone surgery to remove a sarcoma, and my daughters were only young at the time and they had people telling them at school that their dad was a thief.”

John Armstrong, who served 200 hours of community service after being convicted in May 2006 for theft of £10,000 from his shop in Southampton, has only ever discussed his conviction with his close family. The 78-year-old said his mind is now free and he can now tell people what he was put through.

“It has always been something I had hidden from people, even though I did no wrong. Today I can speak out and say what I was put through,” he said.

More convictions are expected to be overturned, with 736 former subpostmasters convicted based on evidence from the Horizon accounting and retail system used by Post Office branches between 2000 and 2015, which, in 2019, was found in the High Court to be error-prone.

Subpostmasters were prosecuted for theft and false accounting, with some sent to jail and many financially ruined. This is known as the Post Office Horizon scandal, and it is regarded as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history.

Subpostmasters began suffering accounting shortfalls they could not explain soon after they began using the Horizon IT system from Fujitsu, which was introduced in 1999 to automate manual processes.

Over the years, many subpostmasters claimed that unexplained accounting shortfalls were not caused by them, but by faults in the Post Office’s computer system.

Computer Weekly first reported on problems with the system in 2009, when it made public the stories of a group of subpostmasters who had been blamed for unexplained accounting shortfalls (see timeline of Computer Weekly articles below).

The Post Office always denied that Horizon could be to blame for the shortfalls, while subpostmasters and their families had their lives turned upside-down.

In December 2019, a multimillion-pound group litigation, brought by 555 subpostmasters, ended with the Post Office conceding that the Horizon computer system was to blame for shortfalls.

Following the overturning of the latest 12 convictions, a Post Office spokesperson said: “Post Office is sincerely sorry for past failures and we welcome the court’s decision today to quash convictions without delay in the appeals we supported.

 “We are making strenuous efforts to fairly address historical miscarriages of justice, including an extensive review of prosecutions since 1999 to identify and disclose all material which might affect the safety of convictions.”

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

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