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April 26th 2021

Post Office Horizon

More than 50 new appeals launched against Post Office Horizon convictions

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

More than 50 new appeals launched against Post Office Horizon convictions

More than 50 new appeals have been launched on behalf of former subpostmasters against convictions relating to the Post Office Horizon scandal.

More than 50 new appeals have been launched on behalf of former subpostmasters against convictions relating to the Post Office Horizon scandal.

It follows a landmark day at the Court of Appeal in London last Friday, when 39 subpostmasters had convictions for theft and false accounting quashed – many dating back between 10 and 20 years.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, has helped 33 former subpostmasters to clear their names through the courts so far, and today revealed more than 70 others are now being supported by the firm to follow the same path to justice.

Of those, 38 cases relating to people convicted in Crown Court were submitted direct to the Court of Appeal last week.

A further 13, relating to convictions in Magistrates courts, are already with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for consideration, starting the same legal journey those who celebrated victory on Friday began this time 12 months ago.

Mr Hudgell also revealed that more than 20 new enquires have been taken over the weekend, following widespread media coverage of the subpostmasters success in the Royal Courts of Justice.

“I said outside court on Friday that the strength and significance of the Judges’ findings were such that the doors were opened for potentially hundreds of people convicted as a result of failings in the Post Office’s Horizon IT system to come forward with confidence to seek to have those convictions overturned,” he said.

“We are already well down the road with regards to supporting another 50 people through the process, having gathered evidence on their behalf and submitted their cases directly to the CCRC and the Court of Appeal.

“They include yet more heartbreaking stories of lives unfairly destroyed – or as the Judges said last week – lives steamrollered by the Post Office. We have yet more cases similar in circumstance, outcome and suffering to those heard on Friday.

“Each and every subpostmaster walked out of the Royal Courts of Justice and down the steps with their heads held high last week, completely exonerated and found to be entirely innocent by the courts. Now we want to make sure we deliver the same outcome for every other family affected by this. The work goes on.”

Solicitor repeats call for Public Inquiry as civil claims for malicious prosecutions to be launched

Mr Hudgell revealed that following Friday’s judgement, plans are in place to launch the first claims for compensation from the Post Office for malicious prosecution later this week, in which he says ‘very significant sums’ will be sought on behalf of clients.

He also repeated his call for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to establish a Public Inquiry ‘with full teeth’ to ensure all senior figures at the Post Office who had any involvement are fully questioned under the rules of evidence and held to account.

It comes as Paula Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office between 2012 and 2019, has quit her roles on the boards of Morrisons and Dunelm, as well as stopping her duties as an ordained Church of England minister.

Ms Vennells says she now intends ‘to focus fully on working with the ongoing Government inquiry to ensure the affected sub-postmasters and wider public get the answers they deserve.’

“I’m sure many of my clients welcome Ms Vennells removing herself from these positions today, but given she left the Post Office with hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses just months before this scandal was fully exposed by the courts, I am sure they will share my view that it shouldn’t have taken her this long to do so,” he said.

“The current review which us underway is simply not sufficient enough to investigate such a huge miscarriage of justice and does not have the power to make sure serious questions don’t continue to be dodged, as they have been for almost 20 years in many cases.

“To serve its proper purpose any inquiry must have the full teeth required to ensure all people involved come under scrutiny that has been dodged until now.

“Following the events of Friday, and the widespread media coverage, the wider public is now becoming much more aware of the depth and significance of this scandal and how lives have been completely destroyed.

“The subpostmasters have huge support in terms of seeking answers and compensation over what happened to them and the Government must be seen to deliver in both regards.”

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