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September 29th 2021

Post Office Horizon

Representing Core Participants at Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is ‘another huge step’ in search for answers and accountability

Dr Neil Hudgell

Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

Representing Core Participants at Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is ‘another huge step’ in search for answers and accountability

Hudgell Solicitors will play a key role in the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry next year as a legal team representing former subpostmasters named as ‘Core Participants’ for the hearing.

Hudgell Solicitors will play a key role in the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry next year as a legal team representing former subpostmasters named as ‘Core Participants’ for the hearing.

It follows the firm’s influential role over the past 18 months, culminating in representing 48 of the 57 former subpostmasters who have had criminal convictions quashed to this date.

The independent public statutory inquiry was established earlier this year and will seek to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of the Horizon IT system at the Post Office over its lifetime.

Chaired by retired high court judge Sir Wyn William, who has over 28 years’ judicial experience, it will provide a public summary of the failings which occurred with the Horizon IT system, leading to the suspension, termination of subpostmasters’ contracts, prosecution and convictions.

Previous and current subpostmasters and subpostmistresses will give evidence, as will the Post Office itself, UK Government Investment (UKGI), Fujitsu, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), amongst others.

As legal representatives of Core Participants, Hudgell Solicitors will be provided with disclosure of evidence, have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements on behalf of clients, be able to suggest lines of questioning at oral hearings, be able to apply to ask questions of witnesses and be provided with advance copies of the Inquiry’s reports.

Others named as Core Participants include the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), who were instrumental in leading a High Court group action against the Post Office in 2019, and Paula Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, when most of the prosecutions happened.

Post Office Inquiry offers opportunity to ‘find answers to key questions’

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, who has led the legal representation of subpostmasters at Hudgell Solicitors alongside Tim Moloney QC, of Doughty Street Chambers, will represent those the firm has successfully led to overturning long-standing convictions in court.

He said: “Being appointed to represent subpostmasters who are Core Participants in the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is an important next step and it will be an honour once again to stand by their side in such an important hearing.

“It has never been a case of simply overturning convictions in this matter, as each and every one of our clients has been left with the same key questions to this date. They want to know how this scandal was ever allowed to happen, why it happened, why it was allowed to continue for so long, and why nobody ever stepped in to stop their lives being ruined.

“This gives them the opportunity to play a key part in an inquiry which we hope will hold key individuals to account, ask the many unanswered questions that remain, and hear from the people who can provide the answers people need and deserve.

“Our team have already been working hard to support clients in preparing statements and evidence to be put before the inquiry, in what will be another huge legal step for everybody who has been affected.”

A further five clients of Hudgell Solicitors are set to have their convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal next month after their appeals drew no opposition from the Post Office. They will also be invited to be Core Participants in the Inquiry.

Another five clients await the Post Office’s response to their appeals after being referred to Southwark Crown Court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

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