United Kingdom

640 more postmasters in Post Office IT scandal are set to have their convictions quashed

The Post Office has paved the way for 640 more postmasters who may have been wrongly prosecuted in the IT scandal to have their convictions quashed.

So far 45 have had their convictions overturned after being falsely accused of stealing from their branches when computer glitches were to blame.

Three Court of Appeal judges castigated the Government-owned Post Office last month for hounding its own staff before squandering public money trying to cover up the scandal.

So far 45 have had their convictions overturned after being falsely accused of stealing from their branches when computer glitches were to blame 

The Post Office is now contacting 540 convicted postmasters to let them know they can appeal, adding that another 100 are likely to follow.

It takes the total number of potentially wrongful convictions to 685. In a statement yesterday, the Post Office acknowledged its ‘failure to fairly investigate and disclose problems’ in the IT system to those who were prosecuted for offences such as theft, fraud and false accounting.

Last month’s Court of Appeal judgment makes it unlikely that the Post Office will oppose claims, preventing the need for lengthy and expensive hearings.

The Treasury is braced for payouts that could total hundreds of millions as many of the 685 sub-postmasters who were convicted could claim damages. The scandal, labelled the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history, has already cost the taxpayer £254million in legal fees and compensation.

Campaigners have demanded that police investigate Post Office bosses and Paula Vennells, who presided over the scandal as chief executive from 2012 to 2019, has faced calls to be stripped of her CBE.

Last month’s Court of Appeal judgment makes it unlikely that the Post Office will oppose claims, preventing the need for lengthy and expensive hearings 

Tory peer Lord Arbuthnot said: ‘It wasn’t until November last year we discovered the Post Office 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 high time the police began to take a serious look at whether the Post Office management have been perverting the course of justice.’

Last week Boris Johnson apologised to postmasters in a video call, saying he was ‘appalled’ by what had happened.

In total there are believed to be 3,000 postmaster victims who lost their livelihoods, were bankrupted and fell into ill-health after being chased for ‘missing’ cash.

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