Post Office Horizon referral is 64th case referred back to Crown Court by CCRC
- Post Office clerk Amer Hussain was convicted of eight counts of theft in 2005
- The CCRC has now referred 64 cases of Post Office workers whose convictions were based on the discredited Horizon computer system
- The CCRC has recently updated a Parliamentary Select Committee on its outreach work to identify those who might have been affected
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) has referred another Post Office case to the Crown Court due to concerns about the Horizon computer system.
The case of Amer Hussain is the 64th CCRC referral sent to the appeal courts related to the Post Office Horizon scandal. Mr Hussain formerly worked as a clerk in a Bristol based Post Office – and in August 2005 pleaded guilty at a Bristol Magistrates’ Court to eight counts of theft (amounting to £3,367.)
He was later sentenced to a Community Punishment and Curfew Order and was ordered to pay compensation of £6,746.85. Mr Hussain applied to the CCRC in January 2021 to review his case.
He could not appeal to the Crown Court in the usual way because he had originally pleaded guilty in a magistrates’ court, so the only way left for him to challenge his conviction was via the CCRC.
The CCRC has remained at the forefront of Post Office Horizon cases and continues to raise awareness of the options open to convicted sub-postmasters and counter staff.
The CCRC has recently written to update the BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) parliamentary select committee on the important outreach work which the CCRC has completed this year in an effort to identify those who might have been affected by the Horizon scandal.
As the national Public Inquiry into the Post Office Horizon IT scandal progresses, the CCRC continues to reach out to former Post Office workers and their families who may need our help.
Helen Pitcher OBE, chairman of the CCRC, said:
“Some former Post Office workers may be unaware of the services we offer, which are completely free to use. Others might understandably still be traumatised by what has happened to them and to their loved ones.
“But we can help, and we would encourage them to contact us. Seeking advice from us on how to challenge a conviction might ultimately lead to the case being overturned, and a miscarriage of justice being corrected.
“We want all of those who were convicted and damaged by these unprecedented failings to receive the justice they deserve, if they want to challenge their convictions.
“That’s why since April of this year we have written to and approached more than 300 people who were potentially affected by the flawed Horizon system.”
The CCRC’s letter to BEIS explained that:
- The organisation has written to 326 individuals so far and has received 39 responses as a result of those mailouts. 22 former sub-postmasters (‘SPMs’) have requested and been provided with information on how to challenge their convictions.
- The CCRC recognises that this is a relatively low number but considers that it is significant if any additional future applicants or appellants come forward; as each reply represents a potential miscarriage of justice which could be corrected.
- The CCRC remains in dialogue with Post Office Limited (POL), and with other prosecuting agencies who prosecuted SPMs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the jurisdiction of the CCRC), namely: the Crown Prosecution Service, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (‘PPSNI’).
- The CCRC remains committed to helping ensure that all subpostmasters who might have been affected by the Horizon scandal are aware of how to challenge their convictions.
You can apply to the CCRC to have a Post Office conviction reviewed or ask for information on how to appeal directly to the Courts where a right of appeal still exists. In the last 2 and a half years the CCRC has referred the cases of 64 former Post Office sub-postmasters and employees for appeal. All of them had been convicted in relation to alleged cash shortfalls at Post Office branches.
The CCRC currently has a further 24 Post Office cases under review. Of the 62 appeals which have been heard so far following CCRC referrals, convictions have been overturned in 57 of the cases.
Anybody who thinks that their conviction might be affected by the issues with the Horizon system can contact the CCRC directly on 0121 233 1473 or find out more at www.ccrc.gov.uk/postofficecases/.
Notes to Editors
- 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.
- There are currently 11 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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 and Instagram the_ccrc