Welcome to court 4 of the Royal Courts of Justice where we are expecting seven appellants to have their convictions quashed. There follows a live-tweet thread of what is happening in court... Save our Subpostmasters banner being held up outside the RCJ
The two people holding the banner in the last tweet are Eleanor Shaikh, a customer who became so outraged by the Post Office’s treatment of her Subpostmaster Chirag Sidphura that she became a campaigner. Read Chirag’s story here:


Just out of shot on the right is Pete Murray whose story is extraordinary. The Post Office tried to ruin him and very nearly succeeded. His story can be read here.

Here’s Pete today:
Okay we’re underway. Lord Justice Holyroyde Mr Justice Picken and Mrs Justice Farby sitting.

Simon Baker for the Post Office on his feet making introductions...
… two appeals have been withdrawn. Seven are unopposed - all those are PO appeals. The only two being opposed are being opposed by the CPS acting as respondent for the DWP who prosecuted them using Horizon evidence...
Jane Angel has abandoned her appeal, and Steven Duke has put in new evidence and the PO has not reached an opinion on Duke so both parties are asking for an adjournment which LJH indicates he is happy to grant.
PO wants until 28 Jan to respond on Duke

Appellant to respond by 28 Feb via his lawyers (Tim Moloney QC/Hudgells).

Judge says this could tie in with other cases which might be going through the courts next year.
[Please note all my tweets summarise and characterise proceedings. They are not direct quotes unless they are in “direct quotes”. PA and Computer Weekly iis here so you will get direct quotes from them!]
LJH says Duke makes the point that “if I was offending in the way alleged there would have been a queue of pensioners saying well where’s my pension?” it may be a good point it may not, but we mention it as this may need a proper inquiry and explanation...
SB QC agrees.

LJH there was some concern expressed re the recording of proceedings. Under the regs with a view to televising them at some stage, what is permissable to be broadcast is limited to counsel submissions and judgment...
… these proceedings are being recorded for potential streaming or rebroadcast it seems. Which is a first in this case.

As suspected the court is going to deal with the unopposed cases first.
They are Pauline Stonehouse, Gregory Harding, Angela Sefton, Anne Nield, Janine Powell, Marisa Fiinn and Jamie Dixon.

SB says since the CoA ruling in which three appeals were refused because Horizon IT was NOT “essential" to a PO prosecution.
… 19 applications have been withdrawn once the appellant has been in receipt of a respondent’s notice or in 1 case, the refusal of a single judge to allow the appeal.

Now talking about Pauline Stonehouse.
She contacted the PO herself about unexplained shortfalls. at her request
… someone attended. She volunteered the information that she had been covering up the losses. at interview she said the losses had come about since the installation of a new Combi terminal in 2005.

She had put all her money in covering the losses...
… and only started misreporting when she had run out of money. From the start she had pointed at Horizon being the source of her problems. She pleaded guilty once prosecuted to false accounting.
Marisa Finn - charged with theft but theft charge dropped when she pleaded guilty to false accounting to cover a Horizon discrepancy. Given a suspended sentence.

Gregory Harding pleaded guilty to FA at Bradford Crown Court in 2010 was given a suspended sentence...
… repaid a £20k shortfall and £1900 in costs. His 20k shortfall was found in 2009 which had built up over 4 years. Could not explain it. Charged with theft at first, but that was amended to FA. H evidence was essential to his prosecution. He offered a guilty plea, but was told..
… it was not acceptable unless he did not blame Horizon. As per Jo Hamilton and Noel Thomas, the PO now accepts that making the acceptance of a guilty plea dependent on this was improper.
Janine Powell sentenced to 18 months in prison for theft of £71k at Tiverton PO in Devon. She was transferring money in and out of stock unit to cover up the loss. After enquiries Ms Powell denied this was to cover up her theft. She indicated there was no evidence her losses...
… were not anything to do with her. At trial she accepted making the transfers, but the only evidence of loss came from Horizon evidence.

Jamie Dixon - another Devon Subpostmaster - audited and a shortfall found. Mr Dixon said “the only thing I am 100% certain of is that...
… i have not taken any money at all… the only thing I am guilty of is being stupid.”

He denied theft and false accounting. In his defence statement he denied dishonesty. Blamed his own disorganisation. Also challenged the £14k loss actually existing.
His lawyers sought ARQ data from the PO. In Feb 2013 the defence asked if it would accept a plea of FA rather than fraud. PO said yes, providing he did not criticise Horizon. We now accept this was improper.
Barrister for Stonehouse, Harding, Powell, Nield and Sefton on her feet.

Says that these appeals are similar to those in which Horizon has been shown to have the capacity to cause great injustice.

Barrister for remaining two appellants makes a statement to point out...
Sorry that’s wrong - the remaining two appellants had one barrister each - neither of whom had anything much to add.

Judges have risen for two minutes “to take stock”.
Judges back.
LJH: thanks lawyers and court functionaries for their “co-operative approach” which all those involved have taken.

We propose to give decisions and reasons in writing at a later stage, but we will address now the unopposed cases of Stonehouse, Harding, Sefton, Nield
… Powell, Finn and Dixon.

In April this court considered a large number. We called them Horizon cases in which the reliability of a conviction was essential and where inadequate investigation and/or inadequate investigation had been made.
Subsequently in July we allowed further appeals.

In the 7 cases with which we are now concerned, their cases are not opposed. Their legal teams have examined their cases thoroughly. We are grateful to SB QC for his summary. PO accepts there was no...
… independent evidence of a loss, and it may be that the investigation into what had happened fells short of what was required. In two of the cases - Harding and Dixon - the prosecution at the time imposed an improper condition - namely that nothing ...
should be said in mitigation to cast doubt upon the reliability of Horizon.

Having considered the papers before us and the oral submissions and the difficulty caused by the loss of relevant documents… we are satisfied the decision not to oppose are...
… realistic and should succeed. The applicants should know their appeals have succeeded.

So in Stonehouse, Nield, Sefton, Finn, Dixon, Harding and Powell

we therefore order as follows...
… : in each of those 7 cases the applications for an extension of time, leave to appeal is granted… the appeal is allowed and the convictions are quashed.

[Seven more convictions quashed. TOTAL NOW 72 - nearly a tenth of all 738 prosecutions over a 15 year period]
Onto the two appeals which are being opposed by the CPS.

First Roger Allen who has Ian Henderson from Second Sight providing expert evidence in his case. Ian Henderson is in court today.
[Those whose convictions have been quashed who are in court today are in the public gallery - three of them I think. They ahve been told they can go, but seem to be staying - I might follow them out if they leave to see if I can get some reaction]
Tim Moloney QC is asking to call Ian Henderson “on the narrow issue of fact” which arises between the DWP witness Mr Allsop and Mr Allen. Judge asks if Mr Allen will be called as a witness. CPS QC indicates he might be. [Mr Allen is attending remotely]
CPS QC “There’s nothing that begins to suggest that Horizon is essential… taking it in stages, the most important witness is the appellant, rather than the expert"
CPS QC [Tom Little btw] Mr Allsop [DWP witness] says in his witness statement “there was no need to rely on Horizon”. We q whether, in the light of the pre-sentence report, there is a need for any oral evidence at all.

LJH - we’ll hear from Mr Henderson then take stock.
[Ian Henderson from Second Sight being sworn in…]

LJH now you’ve given evidence before. Welcome back. Now - Mr Moloney...

TM would you tell the court of your occupation and expertise...
IH I’m a charted accountant and forensic investigator. I was appoined by the PO in 2012 to look into its system for approx 3 years, since then I”ve been instructed to look into this matter in a number of cases.

TM you have prepared a main report re Mr Allen and two supplementals
IH correct.

TM do you adopt the contents of those reports

IH yes

TM that’ it

TL QC - IH just a couple of qs…
in relation to the barcode scanner used by PO from 2000 onwards. Your opinion is it that scanner would record info that went onto the H system.

IH yes
TL there could be a time when the system went down that this could be added manually

IH I believe so

TL do you know how the DWP would get info from the system if they suspected fraud

IH my understanding is that the DWP was a customer or client of the PO so the info...
… would be communicated to the DWP via the back end - not the front end EPOS terminal.

TL and it was the back end that the DWP used to investigate.

IH well the back end output

TL have you considered the factual circs of the Allen case as to the relevance of H?
IH yes I’ve read RA’s statements and that of the DWP and the operating manuals. This happened a long time ago and so recollections are not all we would wish for.

TL you don’t agree with RA's recollection do you

IH my understanding...
… is that barcode scanners were the primary method of inputting DWP data - not manually. It is consistent with an option that was available but not the preferred option.

TL could that manual operation be used to perpetrate a fraud

IH we are straying outside my area of...
… investigation. [goes into detail about what he has been studying]

TL can I ask the q again - you have been asked to give you expert opinoin on the extent to which the H system was used by a SPM at a particular time when an SPM was encashing a pension etc

IH correct
TL what you weren’t asked to do was determine the ultimate question in the appeal - which was was there a fraud

IH correct - my instructions were to look at a fairly narrow technical area.

TL thank you. no further questions
LJH Mr H - we’ve heard about the introduction of H - once it arrived in a particular PO everything was supposed to go through H?

IH in general terms yes - the origin of the system was a business case to automate the benefits payout system

LJH there was a manual back up tho?
… so if the barcode doesn’t work it could be manually inputted.

IH yes. also if there was a complete failure of the H system then payments could be made
IH stands down, judges rise to allow counsel to consider what to do next.

Looks like Roger Allen might be called. Appellants whose convictions ahve been quashed are now leaving the public gallery. Am going to try to speak to them.
Okay I’m back in court. Greg Harding and Pauline Stonehouse were the only appellants here in person and now having met them and their partners I can tell you they are very nice, honest people who the Post Office decided were criminals despite there being no evidence of any crime.
I will try to get a report up today on my new website postofficescandal.uk later today. It depends what happens this afternoon in court.

Judges have said they will resernve judgment in the case of Roger Allen.
Now onto the case of Alan Robinson who was also prosecuted by the DWP. His case is being opposed by the CPS (who took over from the DWP as the DWP no longer has a prosecution function). Tim Moloney QC is representing Robinson.

TM Mr Robinson is not required to give evidence.
TM in respect of Mr Robinson in
March 2004 at Bradford CC he entered a guilty plea to offence of theft - 12 months in prison. A case where there are very few papers remaining.

The basis on which the CPS opposes the appeal is that H was only a factor in the offending - not...
… essential to it. Not enough to advance Cat 1 or 2 abuse of process.

We accept that in respect of CPS prosecutions we cannot advance a Cat 2 abuse - an affront to the conscience of the court.

Our position re renewed grounds of appeal. The appellant has provided a witness...
…. statement. The applicant believes H was installed in his branch on 11 May 2000. There is evidence contemporaneous to period under consideration re shortfalls. He though the shortfalls at the time were staff theft. Regular shortages in the balances and contact was made to...
…. area line manner Peter Leskovatch. He asked for cameras and this was agreed, but before the installation date arrived, the Post Office refused, saying the camera was required elsewhere. It was the only camera available in the region at the time. The applicant also retained a
… calendar on 1 Nov 2000 an entry saying “cameras in?”

He has also produced evidence of the shortfalls he experienced via Transaction Corrections and weekly cash accounts through 2002 and 2003….
… [goes to a bundle file showing a cash discrepancy on 18 March 2002 for £201.54]

On p39 we see here htath this is a cash discrepancy for the 31 July 2002 to the value of £600. On the next page we see a discrepancy on 15 August 2002 £750.81 and then on 21 Jan 2003 £18.76...
TM states he has nearly finished by is aware of the time...

LJH we will rise an be back at 2pm

[court has risen]
[court back in session]

Tim Moloney QC [TM] if I could just deal with visits of Mr Leskovatch to Alan Robinson’s branch. Also noted on his calendar. “Peter 11.30” and further entries to that effect in January 2001, in July 2001 and 27 Dec. Those are the main points...
… the applicant relies on in having noticed and reported a shortfall contemporaneous to those events.

We seee the applicant states that when he became aware of his discrepancies he was told for further investigation there would be a cost of £2000.
The applicant disputed part of the pre-sentence report. He disputes telling the author of the pre-sentence report that he used proceeds of the giro fraud to maintain his and his wife’s standard of living. He also disputes the psr author’s description of his alcohol problems...
… he accepts he was robbing peter to pay paul, and that he only wanted his deception to remain shortlived but says his shortfalls continued and his activities continued. He points to the psr where he put blame at the feet of the Post Office for not intervening when asked….
[basically this looks like a case of re-introduction fraud of giro cheques to cover shortfalls on the Horizon system - argument is, the fraud would not exist if Horizon worked properly and the Post Office helped him properly when he asked for help]

We would seek to distinguish
… this case from that of Stanley Fell [an appellant who failed at his appeal on 23 April] who did what he did due to business difficulties.
If Mr Robinson had not experienced H shortfalls he would not have cashed the giros to make up the shortfalls. His suspicion was that...
… it was a member of staff as there was very little information around about H reliability and his efforts to get some help with Horizon didn’t not go further.

[TM ends. Tom Little QC for the CPS on his feet]

TL I have 8 bullet points.
- guilty plea with no explanation
- there is clear evidence of pre-existing financial difficulty
- linked to that heavy alcohol dependency
- admits he stole in the pre-sentence report. his suspicion of members of staff pre-dated the arrival of H as did his shortfalls (he took over his PO in 1992, H arrived in
- the contemporaneous document represents 3.5% of overall shortfall. Our submission is that if there was any H shortfall it was no quite de minimis but it was not there at the beginning. It does not go to the heart of the case. We should be surprised about visits...
… from the manager and there is no contemporaneous evidence of complaints re Horizon
[I missed point 6. TL admits it was weak, though]
- the appellant has never averred in his witness statement that H was central to his prosecution.
- there is no evidence of non-disclosure...
… in relation to abuse of process. There is cumulatively a marked lack of evidence of anything but a minor H shortfall. It is not a case in which H data was the beginning and end of his prosecution and in those circs for the reasons summarised by the single judge this...
… application should not be renewed.

That’s all.

[TM QC back on his feet]

TM he suspected his employees, he asked for a camera to be installed. He does report H shortfall issues during the period of his indictment. We say H shortfalls were the cause of his admitted...
… criminality. The unreliability was in issue whether or not it was something alleged at the time.

Justice Picken what about the fact H was only 3.5% of the shortage

TM that is all that we have been able to identify. There may have been more. This was 20 years ago.
TM he raised the issues of Horizon problems and kept documents which showed H shortfalls. This would have been very important to his case at the time.

[Court rises to “take stock”]
[There won’t be a decision in respect of Messrs Allen or Robinson today. If you’re just...
… joining this thread, the big news is that 7 convictions were quashed this morning, bringing the total to 72. I am hoping to get a piece up about that this afternoon, but I am sure @Karlfl from @ComputerWeekly will post sooner than me as he’s no longer in court!
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly [If this entire story is new to you, could I suggest buying my book about it, which is the whole history of the scandal, in what has been described by @JoshuaRozenberg as “page-turning” and by @JDBakewell as a narrative with "the power of a great thriller”. Link in bio]
Court is back in session. LJH indicates judgment will be reserved and will be handed down in due course.
LJH concludes by thanking lawyers and appeal office staff for the really wonderful was these cases are being prepared and put before the court. Thanks solicitors too.
[court has risen. two scheduled days reduced to one and a half. I’ll get a full report up on postofficescandal.uk/blog asap]
[sorry - misttake in the last tweet: two scheduled days reduced to .75 of a day!]
Write-up “Seven more convictions quashed”


#PostOfficeScandal Two successful appellants and their partners outside court
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More from @nickwallis

18 Nov
Good morning from Southwark Crown Court. The building opened at 8am and courts are sitting earlier than usual to get through a backlog of cases. We are expecting six Subpostmaster appeals to be heard at 0930 today. Live tweet thread follows...

The Subpostmasters involved are:

• Mohammed Aslam, who  pleaded guilty to false accounting at Newport Magistrates’ Court on 23rd January 2007 and was sentenced to 60 hours of unpaid work and a £300 fine...
• Amanda Barber, who pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 6th June 2012 and was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work...
Read 31 tweets
8 Nov
Good morning from the first Post Office Horizon IT inquiry open hearing. It is being held at Juxon House in London in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. Proceedings start at 11am.
Already, Howe and Co, who are representing 151 Subpostmasters have made a submission to change the name of the inquiry to the Post Office Inquiry, to ensure the inquiry looks at all aspects of the PO and govt’s behaviour - not just the IT system.
I am sitting next to my colleague from Panorama (Tim) to my left and the NFSP to my right. We are separated by clear perspex screens. On Tim’s left is Tom Witherow from the Daily Mail.
Read 81 tweets
19 Jul
Made it! Did get time to take a photo outside court, so here is the RCJ in all its glory in November 2020.

Live-tweeting from Court 4 begins. We are underway.
Please note that all tweets just paraphrase and describe what is being said, they are NOT verbatim. Only words in “direct quotes” are direct quotes.

There are now only 30 appeals being considered as the one has fallen away.
The Post Office is now not opposing 12 appeals. It is opposing 14. Four appeals were DWP prosecutions. As the DWP prosecution function has been folded into the CPS, the CPS is dealing with those appeals and OPPOSING them.
Read 57 tweets
19 Jul
I am off to the court of appeal today to report on the possible overturning of ten more Post Office convictions. I am able to do so because of the crowdfunding I have received in the past. If you feel able to support my journalism, please consider…

… putting a few quid in the crowdfunding tip jar (details in the next tweet) and/or buying my forthcoming book. I keep my reporting free at the point of consumption thanks to the generosity of my backers…

… ALL new supporters will be added to the "secret" email newsletter, which will keep you up to date on the scandal. More here:


The live tweeting starts at 10.30am!

And the...
Read 4 tweets
9 Jun
As someone older than 40 and younger than 60 i was struck by both the question to Nick Cave and his answer. If you're not already signed up to his q&a newsletter I'd recommend it. Here goes:

Q: "I'm struggling a bit with the fact I'm turning 40 in a week. Some people say..
You're in the brightest part of your life", others say you are an "old man". What is your perspective on getting old?

Dear Remko,

My advice to you is to grow a porn star moustache and learn the electric guitar — it worked for me — and try to hang in...
... there until you’re sixty. Then you’ll find you don’t have to worry about what people say any more and, as a consequence, life becomes a whole lot more interesting.

Entering your sixties brings with it a warm and fuzzy feeling of freedom through redundancy...
Read 6 tweets
4 Jun
Late yesterday afternoon, at the University of Law in London, the barrister Paul Marshall delivered one of the most important speeches on the Post Office Horizon Scandal to date.



Mr Marshall pulls every detail of this appalling story out of the mud and connects the dots between the Post Office, Fujitsu the legal system and government. He explains why people are culpable and under what laws. He says:

"Post Office lawyers knew…

… of information that would have provided a defence to defendants. Other lawyers knew of information that would have enabled convicted defendants to launch appeals to the Court of Appeal long, long before March 2021. I hope…

Read 52 tweets

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