Criminal Cases Review Commission
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Post Office Cases: How to Challenge a Conviction

The Post Office Horizon scandal is the most widespread miscarriage of justice the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has ever seen.

It relates to wrongful prosecutions of former sub-postmasters for theft, fraud and false accounting. 

Millions of viewers were gripped by the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, broadcast across the first four days of the New Year and starring Toby Jones, which told the story of some of those affected.

Since April 2021 the appeal courts have overturned convictions in more than 90 Post Office Horizon cases. In each of the cases the court decided that it had been unfair to prosecute the individual because there were serious defects in the Post Office’s Horizon computer system.   

If you believe that you have been wrongly convicted because of problems with the Horizon computer system, you can consider challenging your conviction. 

The first step for many wanting to challenge their conviction or sentence will be to apply directly to the appeal courts. 

The CCRC might be able to help if your appeal was unsuccessful, or if you pleaded guilty in a magistrates’ court, or if you are a close relative of a former sub-postmaster who has died.  

The CCRC has to-date referred 70 such convictions to the appeal courts – resulting in 62 convictions being overturned. 

Helen Pitcher OBE, chairman of the CCRC, said: “Everybody affected by these failings should receive the justice they deserve.  

“However, hundreds of potential applicants have still not come forward – whether that’s directly to the Court of Appeal or requesting a review from the CCRC.  

“Some might understandably still be traumatised by what has happened to them and to their loved ones, but we can help and we encourage them to contact us.” 

To start your application, you can complete the CCRC’s application form 

 You can also ring the CCRC helpline on 0300 456 2669 if you have any questions – our team is ready to help you.  

 You can find out more about the Post Office scandal on the CCRC website

Notes to Editors       

  1. The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.    
  2. The CCRC investigates potential miscarriages of justice and is the only organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that can refer cases back to the court for appeal.    
  3. Access to the CCRC service is free and there is no time limit in applying.     
  4. There are currently 10 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.       
  5. The CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.       
  6. The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.    
  7. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk. The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate    
Channel website: https://ccrc.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://ccrc.gov.uk/news/post-office-cases-how-to-challenge-a-conviction/

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