After a long legal battle, six former Post Office employees wrongly convicted for stealing from their employers due to a fault in the computer system were finally cleared.  

Ex-postmasters all saw cash shortages in Fujitsu’s Horizon computer system, which was in operation between 1999 and 2015. However, they didn’t know where the money went.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the Post Office knew about issues with the accounting software but did not inform the Crown Prosecution Service about them.

Employees were charged with stealing money from their accounts, and they were forced into admitting guilt to the crimes they didn’t commit. 

This scandal was described by many as the largest miscarriage of justice in Britain. 

However, Norman Barber, now 62 and Amanda Barber 51 of Warrington Cheshire along with Mohamed Aslam 60 and Anthony John Gant 51 of Shrewsbury, Balbir Gant 66 of Luton and David Hughes 35 of Warrington were both cleared of their charges on Thursday after many years of legal challenges.  

Judge Deborah Taylor said to the six that although it took some time, each defendant walked out of the court without a stain in their character.

Six former postmasters had their convictions relating to the Post Office Horizon IT scandal quashed on Thursday (Pictured right to left: Norman Barker, Amanda Barker, Balbir Grewal, Kirsty Gant, Anthony Gant and his stepdaughter Megan)

On Thursday, six former postmasters saw their convictions for the Post Office Horizon IT fraud quashed. 

Mr Gant had pleaded guilty to false accounting at Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Magistrates' Court on October 29 2007 and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment suspended for 12 months and 100 hours of unpaid work - he has now had his name cleared

Gant had pleaded guilty on October 29th 2007 to fals accounting before the Shrewsbury, North Shropshire Magistrates’ Court. He received six months imprisonment and a suspended sentence of 12 months. 100 hours unpaid labor was also given.

Mr Gant was all smiles with his wife and step-daughter outside court on Thursday after having his conviction quashed

After his conviction was overturned, Mr Gant looked happy with his step-daughter and wife outside of court. 

The group's convictions were quashed after a referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in January 2001. This takes the total number of Post Office referrals made by the CCRC to 57

Following a Criminal Cases Review Commission referral in January 2001, all convictions of the group were quashed. This brings the total number CCRC Post Office referrals to 57

To finally have their convictions reversed, they had to attend court with supporters.

After a January 2001 referral from the Criminal Cases Review Commission, (CCRC), their convictions were quashed. 

The CCRC has now referred 57 Post Offices to its services.

As their cases progress through the courts, hundreds of other convicted postmasters will be cleared.

Simon Baker, QC from the Post Office told the court there were “clear and compelling reasons” to overturn the convictions for each appellant.

The court heard that if the CPS had known about the Horizon system’s shortcomings, no postmasters would have been charged at the time.

Six postmasters have been cleared of being forced into admitting to crimes they did not commit  

Today’s six Postmasters are just a few of hundreds that are suspected to have confessed crimes in connection with the Post Office Horizon scandal. They had previously admitted to the following:

Mr Aslam pleaded guilty to false accounting at Newport Magistrates’ Court on January 23 2007 and was sentenced to 60 hours of unpaid work and a £300 fine.

Frau Barber, who pleaded guilty at Warrington Magistrates Court to fraud by false representation on June 6, 2012 was sentenced for 100 hours unpaid work.

Also, Barber pleaded guilty on June 6, 2012 to fraud by false representation before Warrington Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced 100 hours of unpaid labor.

Gant, who pleaded guilty at Shrewsbury & North Shropshire Magistrates’ Court to False Accounting on October 29, 2007, was sentenced with 6 months of imprisonment suspended for 12 month and 100 hours work unpaid.

He pleaded guilty in Luton Magistrates’ Court, August 13, 2001 to false accounting and was sentenced by the court to a suspended sentence with a community sentence.

Hughes pleaded guilty at Workington Magistrates Court to fabricating a false instrument and was sentenced to a community order for 12 months and 100 hours unpaid work.

Judge Taylor said that all of the cases, including those involving the Post Office, were filed by the Crown Prosecution Service. A verdict of not guilty would be entered against each appellant, for the reasons stated by the Court of Appeal regarding Hamilton and others.

This is after the Post Office had agreed to turn over confidential emails it received from lawyers this week. It could help explain why so many of its subpostmasters were incorrectly charged with fraud, theft, and false accounting. 

According to insiders, the continuing inquiry will require access to tens or millions of documents. This includes e-mails from Post Office personnel and correspondence between solicitors’ and barristers’ offices, as well as letters between Post Office employees.

These documents will be used to verify claims by Paula Vennells (part-time priest), that she was misled by her legal advisors.

The papers are not legal to be handed over by the Post Office, but they were given at the request Sir Wyn Wils’ chairman.

The Postmasters argued it was impossible to determine how many of their targets were without looking at the legal advice that senior managers received from their lawyers.

According to legal sources, the inquiry would not have been able to force the Post Office to turn over documents it did not give up.

Sir Wyn stated that there is still a lot of work involved in organizing and getting disclosures of pertinent documents.

A spokeswoman for the Post Office stated: “Following the request of the inquiry chair, the Post Office agreed to waive the relevant legal privilege in the purpose of Inquiry to more than 20 years of documentation. We are happy to support the Inquiry with obtaining all the information they need to complete their investigations.

“The Inquiries Act doesn’t require that this be done, but legal privilege is an essential feature of the justice system. It is the right thing for all the people affected by Horizon IT.

The privilege to the Historical Shortfall Scheme, which is the compensation scheme for postmasters, has been declined by the government.

The scandal is expected to cost the taxpayer in excess of £250 million in legal fees and compensation. 

This comes just after revelations that the scandal boss made a “palpably false” statement to a minister when she said there were no evidence of miscarriages in justice.   

A law professor spoke at the opening hearing of the public inquiry to the scandalous new evidence that Paula Vennells was the chief executive from 2012 to 2019. He made false statements after new evidence about miscarriages in justice emerged.

The 62-year-old mother-of-two, who is also an ordained priest, has been accused of covering up the scandal and spending more than £30 million of taxpayers’ money fighting her former staff in court to conceal the truth.

In June 2015 she addressed a minister to inform him that she found no evidence to support a conviction in criminal cases.

Richard Moorhead was a Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at Exeter University. He told the inquiry that the statement was palpably false.

Two years ago, George Freeman, Tory MP and parliamentary undersecretary to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, received a letter from George Freeman, a Tory MP. It was written to him after the Post Office had been given a report that revealed one of their IT specialists may have failed to disclose computer bugs to criminal trials.

Yesterday, a law professor told the first open hearing of a public inquiry into the scandal of fresh evidence suggesting Paula Vennells, (pictured) who was chief executive between 2012 and 2019, made false statements to MPs and a minister after evidence of miscarriages of justice came to light

Yesterday was the first public hearing in a scandalous inquiry by the public into Paula Vennells’ (pictured), chief executive from 2012 to 2019, falsely stated to MPs after new evidence about miscarriages came to light.

The inquiry was told that she wrote to MP George Freeman (pictured) in June 2015 to say that 'we have found nothing to suggest that, in criminal cases, any conviction is unsafe'

In June 2015 she wrote to George Freeman (pictured) to state that she’d found no evidence that criminal cases were unsafe.

Similar comments were made by Mrs Vennells to a Select Committee in February 2015. She said that they had ‘no evidence’ of any postmaster having suffered an error in justice.

She was implicated in the scandal and has been called for to lose her CBE. This award is for services to charities or the Post Office. 

Mrs Vennells walked away in 2019 with £4.9 million in pay and bonuses, and into jobs in the NHS and the Cabinet Office, from which she has now resigned. 

As part of Save Our Post Offices, the Daily Mail exposed the scandal.

London hearing heard that postmasters were subject to a ‘horrible psychological toll’ as well as the humiliation and arrest of prosecution and arrest. 

According to the Post Office, it has ‘implemented fundamental changes in order that these past events cannot happen again’ and is ‘participating fully’ in the investigation.  

When the newspaper contacted Mrs Vennells, she declined to speak up. 

How did the Horizon computer system go wrong and what was it? 

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of postmasters were sacked or prosecuted after money appeared to go missing from their branch accounts (file image)

Between 1999-2015, hundreds of postmasters were fired or tried for money disappearing from branch accounts. (file image). 

From 1999 onwards, the Post Office introduced Horizon, an innovative IT system that was developed by Fujitsu in Japan.

It was designed to perform tasks like stocktaking, transactions and accounting. Subpostmasters raised concerns about the system’s shortcomings after reporting shortfalls, some which were thousands of pounds.  

Subpostmasters tried to fill the gap using their own money and even remortgaging homes to try to fix an error.

The glitches led to hundreds of subpostmasters being fired or tried for their crimes between 1999 and 2015. Horizon was blamed by ex-workers, who claimed there were flaws with the IT system. However, the Post Office said that the problem wasn’t present.

Post Office forced Postmasters to plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit in one case after another.

Others who weren’t convicted were forced out of work or required to repay thousands of pounds in’missing money’.

The Post Office spent £32million to deny any fault in their IT system, before capitulating. 

The However, Postmasters and postmistresses claimed that the scandal had ruined their lives, as they tried to deal with it. With the consequences of a conviction or imprisonment, even if they are pregnant or have young children.

The courts heard from families that marriages fell apart, and how stress may have led to addiction, health problems, premature death, or even suicide.