Post Office workers convicted of theft due to faulty software have names cleared

The exterior of the post office on October 14th, 2017, in London, England, UK
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Former Post Office workers who had been falsely convicted of fraud based on evidence from a faulty accounting system have had their names cleared, after over two decades of legal battles.

The subpostmasters had been convicted of theft and false accounting, based on information drawn from the Horizon software system, which had been in use by the Post Office since 1999.

The Fujitsu-developed system, used for accounting and stockpiling, was used as evidence to successfully prosecute 736 people between 2000 and 2014, out of which 42 maintained their innocence for over a decade.

It would later emerge that a system bug had produced financial shortfalls in branch accounts, resulting in unaccounted funds.

Many falsely convicted Post Office employees had their personal lives destroyed as a consequence of the convictions, having been sent to prison and denied insurance in many cases. Some have since passed away, unable to hear today’s verdict.

However, following years of legal battles, Lord Justice Holroyde at the Royal Courts of Justice in London said the Post Office "knew there were serious issues about the reliability of Horizon" and had a "clear duty to investigate" the system's flaws.

Those who have had their convictions overturned in today’s ruling are as follows: Josephine Hamilton, Hughie Thomas, Allison Henderson, Alison Hall, Gail Ward, Julian Wilson, Jacqueline McDonald, Tracy Felstead, Janet Skinner, Scott Darlington, Seema Misra, Della Robinson, Khayyam Ishaq, David Thomas Hedges, Peter Anthony Holmes, Rubina Shaheen, Damien Owen, Mohammed Rasul, Wendy Buffrey, Kashmir Gill, Barry Capon, Vijay Parekh, Lynette Hutchings, Dawn O'Connell, Carl Page, Lisa Brennan, William Graham, Siobhan Sayer, Pauline Thomson, Tim Burgess, Nicholas Clark, Margery Williams, Tahir Mahmood, Ian Warren, David Yates, Harjinder Butoy, Gillian Howard, David Blakey and Pamela Lock.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Post Office chief executive Nick Read said that he is “in no doubt about the human cost of the Post Office's past failures and the deep pain that has been caused to people affected”.

"Many of those postmasters involved have been fighting for justice for a considerable length of time and sadly there are some who are not here to see the outcome today and whose families have taken forward appeals in their memory. I am very moved by their courage. The quashing of historical convictions is a vital milestone in fully and properly addressing the past as I work to put right these wrongs as swiftly as possible and there must be compensation that reflects what has happened,” he added.

Computer Weekly originally broke the story back in 2009, and have campaigned over the past decade on behalf of the postmasters.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.