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HomeUKWoman's Post Office conviction may be miscarriage of justice

Woman’s Post Office conviction may be miscarriage of justice

  • Horizon flaw causes wrongful convictions
  • SCCRC reviews Lorimer’s case
  • Legislation for victim exoneration planned

Hundreds of sub-post managers and subpostmistresses across the United Kingdom might have been wrongfully convicted of money laundering at the Post Office due to a flaw in the Horizon IT system.

The death of a woman convicted of Post Office embezzlement may represent a miscarriage of justice.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has now referred Caren Lorimer’s case to the High Court of Justiciary for adjudication.

The case was brought to the SCCRC’s attention by Joanne Hughes, who applied in 2022 to overturn the late Ms Lorimer’s conviction.

In 2009, Ms Lorimer pleaded guilty to a single embezzlement charge at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. She was sentenced to perform 300 hours of unpaid community service and to pay £15,000 in compensation.

The SCCRC referred Ms Lorimer’s conviction to the High Court of Justiciary, stating that she pleaded guilty under circumstances that were or could be said to be, manifestly prejudicial to her.

The Crown Office, not the Post Office, administers prosecutions in Scotland.

Horizon Case: Justice and Misconduct Exposed

Earlier this month, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC told MSPs that the Post Office had “repeatedly misled” the Crown Office regarding Horizon cases. A directive issued in 2013 advised prosecutors to avoid over-reliance on Horizon evidence.

The commission found that Horizon’s testimony was crucial in Ms. Lorimer’s case and that the prosecution’s proceedings were repressive, violating principles of justice.

Woman's post office conviction may be miscarriage of justice
Woman's Post Office conviction may be miscarriage of justice

The SCCRC explained its reasoning to the High Court, Lord Advocate, Crown Office, and Ms. Hughes.

The commission continues to accept applications from those affected by the Horizon computer system.

Michael Walker, SCCRC chief executive, stated, “The SCCRC investigates possible miscarriages of justice in Scotland. We urge individuals who have not yet done so to contact us. In the case of a deceased person, applications will be accepted from their next of kin. Our service is intuitive and free to use; no lawyer is needed.”

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Rab Thomson, a former subpostmaster, had his conviction overturned recently. After being wrongfully convicted of a nearly £6,000 deficit, he attempted suicide in 2006. He expressed relief after his ordeal.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to introduce legislation to pardon all wrongfully convicted individuals in England and Wales and to ensure “justice and compensation” for victims. The Scottish government is preparing similar legislation.

A COPFS representative said, “COPFS is committed to the fair and just prosecution of criminal cases.” The lord advocate has expressed complete confidence in and support for established appeal mechanisms. “The Crown will appropriately contribute to the efforts of the SCCRC and the appeals court.”

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