Further enquiry into Post Office scandal
Last week, Post Office scandal victims told a public enquiry in Scotland about their harrowing experiences, with differences in English and Scottish law raising further serious questions.
The hearings in Glasgow were held as part of the inquiry into the Post Office accounting scandal, which involved more than 700 sub-postmasters being wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting by the Post Office between 2000 and 2014.
It was subsequently discovered that the Post Office accounting network system was the culprit, but Post Office bosses refused to change the system because of cost and the time it would take to replace it.
Instead, the Horizon system was installed, and it began to wrongly detect the existence of financial discrepancies at many Post Office branches.
Unfortunately, under their contracts, sub-postmasters were obliged to make up for any losses from their own resources or by borrowing.
The Post Office launched an investigation into the ‘missing’ funds and, because it has its own private prosecution departments, it could bypass the police and Crown Prosecution Service, effectively becoming victim, investigator and prosecutor all rolled into one.
Some of the sub-postmasters who were unable to prove their innocence went to jail, some went bankrupt, and some died before their reputations could be restored.
A total of 72 have had their convictions quashed since the Post Office scandal was uncovered but many are still waiting for compensation.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is understood to be reviewing at least nine more convictions.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “When faced with such serious allegations, the onus is on the accused to prove their innocence, which in this case was very difficult, as the computer system showed shortfalls in accounting.
“However, in most cases, a forensic investigator can follow the transaction trail and find what occurred, thereby clearing the names of those accused, and in many cases, found guilty of misconduct, theft and fraud. “
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