‘Experts’ who saw postmasters wrongly jailed should face prosecution themselves, says judge
Over 550 sub-postmasters brought the group action against the Post Office over the Horizon IT system, which it introduced between 1999 and 2000. (Photo: iStock).
Hundreds of postmasters who were labelled criminals over branch account shortfalls when in fact a computer glitch was to be blamed could now see those who helped convict them face prosecution.
A senior High Court judge ruled on Monday (16) that “bugs, errors and defects” in the Horizon system led to “discrepancies” in subpostmasters’ branch accounts.
Mr Justice Fraser also said that he would refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to evidence given by employees of Fujitsu, the IT firm that developed and maintained the Horizon system.
“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,” he said.
“I have decided to write to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill, to see if any of these should be a matter of public prosecution. It is a matter for the DPP what, if anything, he does with this referral.”
Supporting the judgement, mother-of-two Seema Misra, 44, who ran the post office in West Byfleet, Surrey, before she was jailed for 15 months, was quoted as saying: “I definitely feel they deserve to have their turn in the courtroom spotlight now.”
Mr Justice Fraser also approved a £57.8m settlement between the Post Office and more than 550 claimants.
Post Office chairman Tim Parker said: “In reaching last week’s settlement, we accepted our past shortcomings and I sincerely apologised to those affected when we got things wrong.
We have given a commitment to learn lessons from these events.”
A Fujitsu spokesman said: “While Fujitsu was not a party to the litigation, we take this judgment very seriously and will now review the findings in detail.”
At present, there are more than 30 criminal convictions of former subpostmasters that are being reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.