Former postmaster says history has been made after convicted Post Office workers clear names

A former postmaster wrongly accused of theft as part of a nationwide scandal said ‘history has been made’ after 39 convicted Post Office workers had their names cleared.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 5:21 pm

Christopher Head, who ran the West Boldon Post Office from 2006 to 2015, was among hundreds of sub-postmasters accused of fraud and theft by the Post Office over the last two decades.

Mr Head, 32, was quizzed under caution over the supposed disappearance of £88,000 before the investigation was dropped without charge.

Hundreds of subpostmasters, however, were prosecuted for theft, fraud and false accounting because of the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system, which had “bugs, defects and errors” from the very outset.

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Christopher Head, former postmaster at West Boldon Post Office.
Christopher Head, former postmaster at West Boldon Post Office.

Now 39 of the former subpostmasters who were convicted and even jailed based on Horizon data, have finally had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal.

Overturning the convictions, Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office “effectively steamrolled over any subpostmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy”.

The Post Office knew that there were “serious issues about the reliability” of the Fujitsu-developed IT system, which was rolled out to branches in 2000, but continued to bring “serious criminal charges against the subpostmasters on the basis of Horizon data”, the Court of Appeal said on Friday.

"Their lives have been destroyed for up to two decades.

"Imagine living with this knowing all along you had done nothing wrong.

"As it has been said before this will be the largest miscarriage of Justice in UK history.

"After this is over they can all begin the slow and hard process of rebuilding their lives.”

He said: “Although it has been the failing of multiple Governments on every side of the house it is the Government that is currently in power that must ensure this all ends now.

“Every single victim in all of this deserves fair justice, answers on who knew what and when so that those who have orchestrated this mess are finally brought to account.

"The only way this can be done is through a statutory inquiry that I was promised in parliament by the Prime Minister last year .

"We have to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath to ensure they are held accountable.

“Everyone, including those in the civil litigation, must be compensated the same as those 2,400 people will be in the new Historical Shortfall Scheme. Nothing less will do.”

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