By: 2 April 2024
Post Office scandal fallout: questions raised following new evidence

Yorkshire Legal News previously reported on Hudgells Solicitors’ legal support of the falsely convicted postmasters and postmistresses in the wake of the Post Office scandal. New information regarding the faulty Horizon computer systems, which led to the miscarriage of justice, has come to light.

 

The Bramble report

Despite mounting evidence suggesting faults in the Horizon computer system, the state-owned company spent £100 million defending itself in a civil lawsuit brought by post office operators. An internal report, now disclosed, reveals that losses in branch accounts could stem from IT system faults, casting serious doubts on the validity of the prosecution of hundreds of postmasters for theft and false accounting.

The recent ITV drama “Mr Bates vs the Post Office” thrust the injustice into the limelight, prompting calls for a faster response from ministers. A public inquiry chaired by retired judge Sir Wyn Williams has been convened to address the scandal, with legislation introduced to overturn convictions of post office operators implicated between 1996 and 2018.

Revelations from a 2017 Deloitte report, code-named Bramble, further underscore the depth of the systemic issues. The draft Deloitte report had called into question if  Fujitsu staff could “edit or delete transactions recorded by branches in a way that could impact on the branch’s overall accounting position”? It stated: “Yes – transactions can be deleted at database layer.” The document also asked how “difficult it would be to do” and determined that for some members of staff “this could be done”.

Patrick Green KC, who represented the post office operators, expressed shock at the findings, labelling the case as wholly unnecessary. The failure to disclose the Bramble report, which could have significantly influenced the court’s decision, highlights a gross injustice.

 

The lifelong impact of the Post Office scandal

A Hudgell Solicitors client, Noel Thomas, highlights how traumatic the notion of legal proceedings were for those accused, with many having to turn to organisations such as the JFSA for support.

“I can remember going to one of the very first meetings of the JFSA, and meeting Jo Hamilton and others who have been there right from the start. We had coffee and biscuits and we discovered we were not alone. From then on we fought all the way for justice,”

“I think many can’t face another legal process to begin clearing their names, but it is something which was hugely important to me. People went their own ways. We are now there to help and advise people, like some of us were there for one another in the early days.

“Throughout we have been supported brilliantly by Hudgell Solicitors who have done a fantastic job in taking our cases to the appeal courts and then pursing compensation. I hope other people now turn to them to have their convictions quashed, and secure the compensation they deserve.”

 

Image: Canva.
Emma Cockings
Emma is the content editor for Yorkshire Legal News. Emma is an experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury law for a major firm. She has attended and reported on numerous high-profile legal events in Yorkshire.