Start your claim

May 25th 2020

Group Actions

Crowdfunding campaign launched to help Post Office Horizon victims overturn wrongful convictions

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

Crowdfunding campaign launched to help Post Office Horizon victims overturn wrongful convictions

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help potentially hundreds of people wrongfully convicted as a result of the Post Office Horizon accounting scandal take their cases to the Court of Appeal.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help potentially hundreds of people wrongfully convicted as a result of the Post Office Horizon accounting scandal take their cases to the Court of Appeal.

Significant variations in many subpostmasters’ accounts – caused by a faulty IT system – led to hundreds having their contracts terminated by the Post Office, being forced into ‘paying back’ thousands in shortfalls from their own savings or being prosecuted and jailed.

The discrepancies had in many cases occurred due to the faulty Horizon IT system used by the Post Office across its branches in England and Wales, something accepted at a High Court case in December of last year.

That saw a £58million damages settlement awarded to a group of more than 550 subpostmasters who brought the case against the Post Office.

However, as the Government refused to cover all the group’s legal costs, which had risen over many years of evidence gathering and court hearings, only around £10million was left over for the claimants in damages.

Hudgell Solicitors have now pledged to support those who are still to see any form of justice and those wrongfully convicted of crimes, supported by campaigning MP Karl Turner. One of the UK’s leading appellant barristers, Tim Moloney QC of Doughty Street Chambers, has also been instructed.

The Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) campaign group, in collaboration with Hudgell Solicitors, launched a crowdfunding appeal to support those already seeking to take their cases to the Court of Appeal in a bid to clear their names.

It is initially targeting to raise £25,000, but that target will increase should the number of people seeking to overturn convictions continue to rise.

Today, the national Daily Mail reported that as many as 900 people could have been wrongfully convicted.

Alan Bates, who established the JFSA and played an instrumental role in the successful group action against the Post Office, says the crowdfunding campaign can help ensure that access to justice is provided.

He said: “Our campaign is simple. We will keep fighting until each and every person whose lives have been affected by this to secure compensation, and for each and every unsafe conviction to be overturned.

“To do that, we now need the help of the public to fund the strongest legal representation. The initial step is to raise £25,000 to make sure we can start the process of covering the costs of getting these cases to the Court of Appeal.

“The High Court case highlighted and exposed the unreliability of the Horizon IT software, so it is now only right that every potential unsafe conviction is now fully investigated and challenged.

“We want to ensure claimants are fully supported by the best legal team, but that any legal costs are also covered before the process of looking to overturn their convictions begins.”

Solicitors acting in relation to both conviction appeals and Historic Shortfall Scheme

Neil Hudgell, executive chairman of Hudgell Solicitors, says he is currently representing 23 people whose convictions for crimes have already been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

It has been reported that a total of 39 cases, including these 23, have been referred by the CCRC so far from 61 applications.

Mr Hudgell says he has been approached by a further 20 people who, as yet, are to start the appeals process but intend to do so.

The move comes as Hudgells have also been approached by ‘more than 100’ people seeking advice with regards the recently launched Historical Shortfall Scheme by the Post Office.

This has been established to compensate people who suffered but were not part of the previous group court case which concluded in December.

Mr Hudgell said:  “The new Historical Shortfall Scheme does not allow anybody with convictions as a result of this scandal to apply for compensation so it appears that they will face a two stage process unless the deadline to apply is amended.

“That will mean we firstly have to successfully have their convictions overturned, then pursue a civil claim outside of the scheme.”

If you were wrongfully convicted in relation and would like free initial legal advice, email postofficeappeals@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk

Donate to the crowdfunding appeal here

 

What Our Clients Say