Scottish Daily Mail

640 more postmaster­s in IT scandal set to have conviction­s quashed

- By Tom Witherow Business Correspond­ent

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.

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

‘Riddled with deception’

millions as many of the 685 subpostmas­ters 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.

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 livelihood, were bankrupted and fell into ill-health after being chased for ‘missing’ cash.

 ??  ?? Anger: Ex-boss Paula Vennells
Anger: Ex-boss Paula Vennells

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