The 39 former subpostmasters who were unfairly convicted of theft, fraud, and false accounting were cleared by the England and Wales Court of Appeals on Friday.
The conviction was abandoned because the sub-postmaster did not stand in a fair trial and the indictment was “an insult to the conscience of the court.”
Judges said that the only evidence on which these convictions were based was data on Horizon, a flawed accounting system introduced in 1999: “If Horizon data is unreliable, there is no basis for prosecution. “.
Judge Timothy Holroid said the Postmaster Limited (POL) “knows that there is a serious problem with Horizon’s credibility” and has a “clear obligation to investigate” system flaws. “Horizon consistently claimed to be robust and reliable.” “Effectively steam-rolled the subpostmaster who tried to challenge its accuracy.”
POL’s “failure to investigate and disclose was so severe that any indictment in the” Horizon case “insulted the court’s conscience,” the judge added.
However, three former sub-postmasters, Wendy Cousins, Stanley Fel, and Neil Hussein, dismissed the appeal because “the credibility of Horizon data is not essential to the indictment and the conviction is safe.” did.
Wendy Buffy, 61, said she was “ecstatic” after the ruling.
“I’m no longer a detective, but a victim of the post office,” she said.
Buffy was given 150 hours of community service and had to pay a shortfall of £ 26,250 ($ 36,376) and £ 1,500 ($ 2.078) to prosecute two frauds.
“I think the post office hierarchy needs to be aware that the post office is not a trusted brand,” she said.
“It is the subpostmasters who run the community offices, which are trusted people in the post office. They take care of their community.”
Harjinder Butoy, a former sub-postmaster of Nottingham, convicted of theft for three years and four months in 2008 and imprisoned, said his conviction and imprisonment destroyed his life for 14 years. .. “It won’t be replaced,” he said.
Former postmasters convicted soon began discussing compensation and they want to hold the responsible person accountable.
“I want to get my money back. I think I’ve lost about £ 250,000 ($ 207,862),” said Noel Thomas, a county council member who ran a post office branch in Garwen, Anglesey. Said.
“I lost my salary, my fortune, my pension, and my fame,” he said.
Thomas said he and the other victims felt “there was no escape” while in prison, even though they knew they were innocent.
In a post-judgment statement, postmaster Tim Parker said the postmaster was “extremely sorry for the impact on the lives of these postmasters and their families caused by historic failures.” ..
“We will contact other postmasters and postal workers on criminal convictions from past private post office indictments that may be affected and help them appeal if they so desire.” Parker said.
“The post office continues to reform its operations and culture to ensure that such events never happen again.”
Based on Human data, POL prosecuted 736 sub-postmasters between 2000 and 2014. Some were put in jail or went bankrupt, while others died afterwards.
In a groundbreaking rule of December 2019, the High Court stated that the Horizon system had “bugs, errors, and flaws” and that the system caused a deficiency leading to prosecution. Said there was.
Prior to the ruling, POL agreed to pay 555 plaintiffs £ 58 million ($ 80 million) in damages.