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Six more former subpostmasters have convictions overturned

A total number of 65 subpostmasters have now had criminal convictions overturned in Post Office Horizon scandal

Six more people wrongly convicted of financial crimes caused by an error-prone Post Office computer system had their convictions overturned today in Southwark Crown Court.

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. It is often described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in modern British legal history.

The judge said: “All the defendants can walk away from court with no stains on their characters.”

A total of 736 people were prosecuted based on evidence from the Horizon accounting and retail system used in 11,000 branches nationwide.

In 2009, a Computer Weekly investigation revealed that subpostmasters were being blamed for unexplained accounting shortfalls, which began to happen soon after accounts at branches were automated by the introduction of the Horizon system from Fujitsu.

It was then that Computer Weekly told the stories of seven subpostmasters affected by the problems, which led many more who had suffered losses to come forward (see a timeline of articles by Computer Weekly below).

A High Court judgment in 2019, after years of campaigning by subpostmasters, ruled that Horizon was not robust and that its errors could cause unexplained shortfalls.

Since then, 65 former subpostmasters who were prosecuted have had their convictions overturned.

In court today, Balbir Grewal, of Romford Essex, had his conviction from 2001 overturned. Grewal was convicted soon after Horizon was rolled out in Post Office branches. After 20 years of living with a wrongful criminal conviction, Grewal said he was relieved after having “mixed feelings about whether to attend court”.

“I have only been in court once before in my life, and that was when I was convicted,” said the father of three. “This conviction completely destroyed my life.”

Grewal was the first in his family to go to university, qualified and worked as an accountant before running a successful business in the US. On his return from the US, he decided to use his savings to buy a Post Office for £150,000.

He began suffering shortfalls of a few hundred pounds and would cover them, believing he had made mistakes. But the shortfalls got bigger and, after auditors visited, he was prosecuted. “I asked the area manager for help with the problem, but the auditors were brought in,” he said.

Grewal has since been unable to get work due to his conviction. “I tried to keep it a secret and, to this day, I have not told my parents. Some family members probably think I am still an accountant,” he said.

In a statement, the Post Office apologised for its failures. “Whilst we cannot change the past, we have taken determined action to ensure there is appropriate redress,” it stated. “Ahead of final compensation, we are expediting offers of interim payments of up to £100,000 to people whose convictions have been overturned where the reliability of Horizon data was essential to the prosecution.”

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

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