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Post Office Inquiry defers ruling on compensation and Court of Appeal overturns two more convictions

how hudgell solicitors supports subpostmasters in legal cases against post office
3 min read time
27 Apr 2023

The Post Office Inquiry today heard a further full day of evidence on compensation.

Chair Sir Wyn Williams deferred his written ruling on a wide range of issues addressing delays and inadequacies in the set-up and structure of the various compensation schemes.

The hearing was held as cases of wrongful convictions continued to be overturned by the courts, almost two-and-a-half years since the very first Horizon convictions were quashed in December 2020.

As the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry continued to debate suitable compensation settlements for all those affected, 79-year-old Victor Ingham and Sheila Coultas, 60, two former subpostmasters had their names cleared at the Court of Appeal.

Mr Ingham had his 17-year conviction overturned, having been sentenced to 15 months in prison, at the age of 62, back in December 2005.

He was prosecuted over an alleged shortfall of around £65,000 at the Cemaes Bay Sub Post Office branch, on Anglesey in North Wales, he had ran for almost 25 years, charged on two counts of theft and three counts of false accounting,

Like many others, Mr Ingham had explained to auditors that he had been seeing large losses every week for around two-and-a-half years, and that he could offer no explanation.

Sheila Coultas, 60, saw a conviction which has stood against her name for 15 years overturned, having being convicted in 2008 of three counts of false accounting when sub-postmaster of Stirling Road Post Office in Lincolnshire.

The Post Office had alleged that audits had identified a shortage of more than £39,000 in her branch accounts, for which she had no explanation, saying she had not stolen or borrowed the money and had no idea where it had gone.

She was prosecuted despite losses continuing at the branch after she had been suspended, and despite the subpostmaster who replaced her stating their belief that the losses were being caused by computer error, asking for them to be investigated.

Those two cases took the number to have convictions quashed to 86 in total, of which more than 70 are represented by Hudgell Solicitors, who have so far only agreed final damages settlements in two cases.

Starting in the late 1990s, the Post Office began installing Horizon accounting software in branches across the country, but faults led to shortfalls in accounts.

The Post Office demanded sub-postmasters cover the shortfalls, and wrongfully prosecuted them between 1999 and 2015 for false accounting or theft.

It has since admitted that the unreliable and flawed computer evidence may have been used to prosecute more than 700 subpostmasters without any police involvement as people were charged and convicted of crimes they had not committed.

If you were affected by the Post Office Horizon Scandal and are yet to secure justice, call our team today or email [email protected]

Read more: Post Office Horizon Legal Representation

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Post Office Inquiry defers ruling on compensation and Court of Appeal overturns two more convictions

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