LONDON (AP) – A British court of appeals has overturned the sentences of 39 people who ran local post offices accused of theft, fraud and fraudulent accounting more than 20 years ago, which turned out to be a defective computer. system in local branches.
Announcing the verdict on Friday, Lord Justice Timothy Holroyd said Britain’s post office, the post office, “knew there were serious security issues” by Fujitsu’s Horizon computer system, “had a clear responsibility to investigate” its shortcomings. ,
“The failures of the Post Office Limited investigation’s disclosure were so dire that the prosecution of any Horizon case condemned the court’s conscience,” the judge said.
Convicted postmen and postmen have spent years, about 20 of them trying to clear their names, arguing that the fault lies with the computer system. “The three appeals were rejected because the reliability of Horizon data was not relevant to the prosecution’s case.”
Many of those convicted lost their jobs, homes, or marriages, while others were imprisoned or sentenced to probation.
Harginder Bhutto, convicted of robbery in 2008 and jailed for three years and four months, called the post office a “disgrace” after overturning his sentence.
Bhutto, who ran a local post office in Nottingham, northern England, said her sentence “imprisonment” “ruined” her life for 14 years.
“It will not be replaced,” he said outside the Royal Court, adding that those responsible “should be punished, severely punished.”
The reversal of the verdicts is likely to pave the way for compensation claims from unnecessary victims.
In a statement, Neil Hudgel of Hudgell Solicitors, which represented 29 former officials, said it was “almost impossible” to influence those involved in the scandal.
“They are honest, hard-working people who serve their communities but have had to live with years of stigma as criminals while they know they are innocent,” he said.
He called on Prime Minister Boris John Onson to declare a “judge-led public inquiry” with the power to call witnesses.
“Now is the time for people at the post office who were somehow involved in those uncertain convictions to feel the awkward breath of the law around their necks, as our customers did,” he said.
John Onson also welcomed the decision, saying it was “a terrible injustice that has had a devastating effect on these families for years.”
“Lessons must be learned so that it will never be repeated,” he said.
The Criminal Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, encourages any other former post office staff to consider challenging their convictions after making a decision.
Postman Tim Parker, president of the Post Office, said in a statement that the organization “deeply regrets the post-historic setbacks of these postmen and their families.”
Tom Hedges, who was convicted of theft for “false accounting”, was sentenced in 2011 to seven months probation after opening his sentence after opening a bottle of prostoco outside the Royal Court of Justice.
He said his 93-year-old mother advised him to celebrate with a bottle of Italian sparkling wine.
“He said, ‘Just remember that your name is Hedges, not Rothschild, so get a prosecutor, not a Bollinger.’