Friday 7 May 2021

So who did it? - Peer calls for police investigation

Lord Arbuthnot outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 23 April 2021

Lord Arbuthnot, the former barrister, has called for a police investigation into the activities of former Post Office executives saying:

"It is high time the police began to take a serious look at whether the Post Office management have been perverting the course of justice."

Arbuthnot was reacting to the Post Office announcement that it was contacting more than 500 people it has successfully prosecuted since 1999 using Horizon evidence. The Post Office said:

“In addition to full co-operation with the CCRC’s review, Post Office has made strenuous efforts to identify individuals who were historically convicted and an extensive post-conviction disclosure exercise is taking place to identify and disclose all material which might affect the safety of those convictions.”

In response - Lord Arbuthnot, who has been helping Subpostmasters fight for justice for more than a decade, said:

“Am I alone in finding the Post Office’s use of the word “historical” rather nauseating?  They are trying, in their unsubtle way, to create the impression that this is all in the past and that their behaviour now is spotless.  But it wasn’t until November last year that we discovered, through their late disclosure of the Clarke advice, that they had known for many, many years that their entire prosecution process was riddled with deception, something they then tried to cover up with their shredding of documents.  It is all very well for the Post Office now to say that “Disclosure relevant to their cases will be provided” – but given their track record, who will believe them?

Then, in the Common Issues Trial [one of the trials in the Bates v Post Office High Court litigation], the Post Office continued to assert that the subpostmasters were dishonest, though they knew that it was their own systems that weren’t working.  The intervention of the CCRC establishes that the course of justice was perverted – so who did it?"

Paul Marshall, the barrister acting for Seema Misra, Tracy Felstead and Janet Skinner said:

"The Post Office knew from not later than 2013 that its systems were unreliable and that the Horizon system had the propensity to cause shortfalls not apparent to a Post Office branch terminal operator and that accordingly its evidence to the court in many cases was incomplete and misleading.  That being so, why did the Post Office adopt the policy of denial that it pursued until Fraser J called time in December 2019? Who devised that policy of denial and who implemented it?

Once those questions are addressed and truthfully answered by the Post Office, as eventually, one way or another they will be, it may be time to close this chapter, but not before. One gets the impression that the person for whom the Post Office feels regret and sorrow is itself, and that its stonewalling has so dismally and expensively failed.  That is no consolation to those who have died."

For more on this developing story, please click here.


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