Historical Prosecutions

The Post Office has been working closely with the Criminal Cases Review Commission since a number of former postmasters applied to overturn their convictions for offences based on evidence from the Horizon computer system, used in Post Offices since 1999.  We are also conducting an extensive review of historical convictions which relied upon Horizon, to identify and disclose material that might cast doubt on the safety of those convictions in accordance with Post Office’s duties as former prosecutor. 

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has so far decided to refer for appeal the convictions of 47 applicants. Our statement can be found here. The majority of these referrals are to the Court of Appeal (which relate to convictions in the Crown Court) with six separate referrals to Crown Courts (which relate to convictions in the Magistrates’ Court).

The cases span the period between 2001-2013 and are technically and factually complex.  Further documentation and underlying evidence is awaited from the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The Court of Appeal has granted Post Office until 2 October 2020 to file its Respondent’s Notices.

The CCRC has also decided to send seven applicants Provisional Statements of Reasons setting out why the CCRC does not believe that it is in a position to refer their cases for appeal. Those applicants have been invited to respond to that provisional view. 

Freedom of information
A Freedom of Information response regarding information held by Post Office on the number of convictions in cases prosecuted by Post Office/ Royal Mail since 1990, whether related to Horizon or not, is published here

Fundamental reform
We are working to fundamentally reform the Post Office, addressing past events to fairly resolve them and to forge an open and transparent relationship with the thousands of current postmasters providing customers with vital services in the UK’s communities.

We have made wide-reaching improvements in the support we provide, from initial recruitment and training, through to the support for daily transaction accounting.  These are being set out for every postmaster, detailing responsibilities and commitments which support them to build thriving businesses, serving the UK’s communities. 

Working closely with postmasters, improvements made include tailored, personal support for individual Post Office branches; a new support centre to resolve queries more quickly and effectively and design changes to transactions on Horizon based on postmaster feedback (See more here.)

Historical Shortfall Scheme
On 1 May 2020, we launched a claim scheme, the Historical Shortfall Scheme for current and former postmasters who believe they may have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of Horizon. Every eligible application will be assessed by an independent advisory panel.

The scheme also provides a dispute resolution procedure if any applicants are not satisfied with the assessment outcome, including independent mediation. The independent mediation provider will be Wandsworth Mediation Service, a charitable community mediation service chaired by Stephen Ruttle QC who co-mediated the resolution of the group litigation. All income generated by the service is used for charitable purposes.