After alerting the court to the leaking of a document to a journalist, in possible contempt of court (see above), the Post Office QC, Mr Brian Altman, moved on to the need for a discussion about imposing possible reporting restriction on proceedings.
This, said Mr Altman, was because of the criminal investigations into two Fujitsu Horizon specialists, Gareth Jenkins and Anne Chambers.
Mr Jenkins (as readers of this website will know) and Ms Chambers have both given evidence about the efficacy of the Post Office's Horizon computer system to various courts. In December last year as he handed down the Horizon Issues judgment, Mr Justice Fraser said:
"I have very grave concerns regarding the veracity of evidence given by Fujitsu employees to other courts in previous proceedings about the known existence of bugs, errors and defects in the Horizon system. These previous proceedings include the High Court in at least one civil case brought by the Post Office against a sub-postmaster and the Crown Court in a greater number of criminal cases, also brought by the Post Office against sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses.
After very careful consideration, I have therefore decided, in the interests of justice, to send the papers in the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Max Hill QC, so he may consider whether the matter to which I have referred should be the subject of any prosecution."
Although Mr Justice Fraser didn't name Anne Chambers or Gareth Jenkins at the time, he did in his confidential letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, dated 14 January 2020. We know this because it is in the appendix of the CCRC's Statement of Reasons, circulated to journalists today. In his letter, Mr Justice Fraser sets out what Mr Jenkins and Ms Chambers knew and concludes:
"in order to give fully truthful evidence to the court... namely the prosecution of Mrs Misra and the civil claim against Mr [Lee] Castleton, both Mr Jenkins and Mrs Chambers respectively should have told the court of the widespread impact of (at the very least) the bugs, errors and defects in Horizon that they knew about at the time that they gave their evidence."
This letter was sent by the DPP to the Metropolitan Police, who immediately started investigating. Last week, Computer Weekly was told the Met had turned their ten month investigation into a criminal investigation. Today we have discovered the names of at least two of the individuals involved.
After some discussion, Lord Justice Holroyde decided there was no need for any need for any reporting restrictions to be imposed on the Court of Appeal proceedings in the light of the Met's criminal investigation, but reminded the media of the "general need on their part to avoid reporting anything which may prejudice the ongoing investigation or any charges which may flow from it."
A further Court of Appeal hearing to discuss the CCRC's statement that the prosecution of the appellant Subpostmasters were an "affront to the public conscience" will take place on 17 Dec. The full hearing to quash or uphold the appellants' convictions has been scheduled for the week beginning 22 March 2021 and will last four or five days.
Read part 1: "What's in the 2013 Simon Clark document?"
Read today's tweets from Court 4 of the Royal Courts of Justice in a beautifully curated single web page, here.
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