Quote Message: We welcome the landmark decision by the Court of Appeal today to overturn these convictions, which marks another important milestone for postmasters affected by the Horizon dispute. The Post Office has rightly apologised for its historical failings and is taking determined action to right the wrongs of the past, and we continue to monitor this work very closely.” from Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
We welcome the landmark decision by the Court of Appeal today to overturn these convictions, which marks another important milestone for postmasters affected by the Horizon dispute. The Post Office has rightly apologised for its historical failings and is taking determined action to right the wrongs of the past, and we continue to monitor this work very closely.”
'Get yourself a bottle of prosecco'
Former Post Office worker Tom Hedges, who was convicted of theft and false accounting and given a seven-month suspended sentence in 2011, opened a bottle of prosecco outside the Royal Courts of Justice after his conviction was quashed.
"It's a wonderful afternoon," he told the Press Association.
"When I told my mother, who's 93, I was coming to court she said 'get yourself down to Aldi and get some prosecco'."
"She said 'just remember your name is Hedges not Rothschild, so get prosecco, not Bollinger!"'
Post Office 'promoted a culture of cover-up'
Neil Hudgell, the solicitor for 29 of the postmasters has accused the Post Office of a coverup.
"Ultimately, it has been found to have been an organisation that not only turned a blind eye to the failings in its hugely expensive IT system, but positively promoted a culture of cover-up and subterfuge in the pursuit of reputation and profit, " he said.
"They readily accepted that loss of life, liberty and sanity for many ordinary people as a price worth paying in that pursuit."
Prime Minister welcomes Post Office court decision
Post Office scandal: Reputations were unfairly destroyed
The solicitor who represented 29 of the postmasters has said it is "almost impossible to describe the true impact" that the scandal has had on the lives of those who had their reputations and livlihoods "so unfairly destroyed".
Solicitor Neil Hudgell said: "They are honest, hard-working people who served their communities but have had to live with the stigma of being branded criminals for many years, all the while knowing they have been innocent.
"Indeed, given its actions, everything the Post Office has sought to do over the last year or so, whether it be by way of apology and offers of redress, or by talking about a cultural change, completely unravelled when our clients' cases where heard."
He added: "The Post Office failed to offer any sort of explanation as to why wholesale disclosure of evidence was withheld in cases, nor why a proper investigation was not carried out when known problems in the Horizon system started to appear."
Labour to push for a 'proper Inquiry with teeth'
Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
"This is a huge victory in the fight for justice for the subpostmasters affected by this appalling decades-long scandal, in the face of inaction from government," said Ed Miliband, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary.
"But there are so many other names to clear. For some who lost their homes and their reputations, it's too late.
He said Labour was pushing for a "proper Inquiry with teeth" to get the bottom of how this scandal happened who was responsible.
"The government's inquiry risks being a whitewash," he said.
'A serious miscarriage of justice'
Helen Pitcher, the chairwoman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which asked the Court of Appeal to review the convictions, said: "This has been a serious miscarriage of justice which has had a devastating impact on these victims and their families."
"Every single one of these convictions has clearly had a profound and life-changing impact for those involved," she said in a statement.
"The Post Office has rightly acknowledged the failures that led to these cases and conceded that the prosecutions were an abuse of process."
"We sincerely hope that lessons will be learned from this to prevent anything similar happening elsewhere in the future."
Cleared at last
There were emotional scenes outside the Court of Appeal after the judgement was handed down.
Former post office worker Janet Skinner - who was imprisoned in 2007 for nine months over a shortfall of £59,000 at her Post Office in Hull - broke down in tears when she emerged from the court.
Ms Skinner said she was "relieved" to have finally cleared her name.
Earlier today, she told BBC Radio Humberside about the moment the judge told her that she would be going to prison.
“I actually thought he meant, he was going to give me a suspended sentence or something and that was it," she said.
"Then they locked the door and then I knew that I wasn’t coming out."
A large compensation bill for the Post Office?
Personal finance reporter
It is impossible to overstate
the impact this judgement is likely to have on the Post Office.
Its chief executive Nick Read has
apologised and paid tribute to the sub-postmasters whose convictions have been
But, the ruling does open the
road for dozens of people to seek damages against the Post Office for malicious
On top of making good on the
historical shortfalls, this could leave the Post Office with a huge bill. One
which it could well need financial support from the government to pay.
A long fight
PA MediaCopyright: PA Media
Earlier on Friday, former sub-postmaster Noel Thomas shared the pain and devastation that his conviction for stealing from the Post Office has caused him and his family - see our report at 9:51am.
He is pictured here after the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction. He and his 38 colleagues who also saw their convictions overturned will be feeling fully vindicated today after a long fight.
Post Office 'prevented a fair trial'
The Court of Appeal said that the Post Office prevented the postmasters from having a fair trial.
It said the Post Office's failure to investigate or disclose data from the unreliable Horizon IT system prevented those postmasters, of which the court found 39 were wrongly convicted, from challenging those convictions.
"In short, [Post Office] as prosecutor brought serious criminal charges against the subpostmasters on the basis of Horizon data."
"By its failures to discharge its clear duties it prevented them from having a fair trial on the issue of whether that data was reliable."
The convictions of 39 out of 42 Post Office branch managers have been overturned, but for one family it is too little, too late.
Post Office: We are extremely sorry
Tim Parker, chairman of the Post Office, said: "The Post
Office is extremely sorry for the impact on the lives of these postmasters and
their families that was caused by historical failures."
Quote Message: The Post Office today sincerely apologises for serious failures in its historical conduct of prosecutions of postmasters, resulting in the Court of Appeal formally overturning convictions - that occurred between 2003 to 2013 - in uncontested appeals. The Court quashed 39 convictions, referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission last year. The Post Office announced at the earliest opportunity, in October 2020, that it would not oppose the overwhelming majority of these appeals. The Court upheld the safety of convictions in three cases. from The Post Office
The Post Office today sincerely apologises for serious failures in its historical conduct of prosecutions of postmasters, resulting in the Court of Appeal formally overturning convictions - that occurred between 2003 to 2013 - in uncontested appeals. The Court quashed 39 convictions, referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission last year. The Post Office announced at the earliest opportunity, in October 2020, that it would not oppose the overwhelming majority of these appeals. The Court upheld the safety of convictions in three cases.
Judge: Post Office knew about 'serious' issues with IT
Lord Justice Holroyde said at the Court of Appeal ruling today that the Post Office "knew there were serious issues about the reliability of Horizon" and had a "clear duty to investigate" the system's defects.
But the Post Office "consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable", and "effectively steamrolled over any subpostmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy".
Prior to today's judgement, the Post Office said: "We sincerely apologise to the postmasters affected by our historical failures.
Throughout this appeals process we have supported the quashing of the
overwhelming majority of these convictions and the judgement will be an important milestone in addressing the past.”
Not all cleared
Three of the 42 sub-postmasters hoping to have their names cleared today will be disappointed.
The judges decided that the cases brought against Neelam Hussain, Stanley Fell and Wendy Cousins did not depend on data from the flawed Horizon IT system.
Therefore it said their convictions were safe.
BreakingCourt of Appeal quashes 39 Post Office workers' convictions
The Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of 39 former Post Office workers who were found guilty of stealing money from the company, according to the Press Association.
The former sub-postmasters and postmisstresses had been convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting because of the Post Office's defective Horizon accounting system.
'You think it's never going to end'
Jo HamiltonCopyright: Jo Hamilton
Jo Hamilton is one of those awaiting the decision by the Court of Appeal.
She was accused by the Post Office of taking £36,000 from the village branch she ran in Hampshire.
Ms Hamilton had to give up her shop and found it difficult to get a new job due to her criminal record. Declaring the criminal record also affected everyday life, such as failing to get car insurance.
"I think this is the biggest miscarriage of justice," she told PA.
"I was 45 when this started. It's taken up nearly a third of my life. You think it's never going to end."
"I was given a 12-month supervision order and have a criminal record," she said.
"But I did nothing wrong. I told them about the problem but they said I was the only one."
From the court...
Nick Wallis has been reporting on the Post Office scandal for over a decade.