Between 2009 and 2015 more than 700 people who ran Post Offices, also known as sub-postmasters, were wrongly accused of embezzling money and subsequently prosecuted. The fault was actually that of a dodgy computer accounting system.
In addition to having to pay back the money from their own pockets, the strain, stress and stigma of this wrongful conviction destroyed the livelihoods of many of the sub-postmasters who were subject to criminal convictions, imprisonment, and bankruptcy. In some cases this also led to illness, divorce, and suicide.
In 2019, the High Court ruled that the Horizon system was faulty and in 2020 the government set up a public inquiry. But this has had renewed national interest thanks to the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office which aired in the new year week, and has resulted in a major intervention by the government – which will introduce a blanket law to exonerate all those who were convicted.
What can we as a nation can learn from one of the country’s greatest miscarriages of justice?
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