Government ministers have held talks about a possible alternative means of overturning the convictions of victims of the Horizon scandal.
As reported in The Guardian, the justice minister Alex Chalk and business minister Kevin Hollinrake, have discussed a method of exonerating wrongly convicted subpostmasters that would involve taking their cases through the courts.
This would likely take longer than the government’s current method of dealing with the 700 wrongful convictions through a bill announced last month, that is currently making its way through parliament.
This new method of exonerating the victims of this miscarriage of justice has been proposed by members of the judiciary, with many expressing concern about the precedent that would be set by governmental and ministerial interference in the justice system.
Downing Street’s proposal would see convictions overturned by statute, without those who have been wrongfully convicted having to go through the courts. A bill of this kind would be unprecedented, but ministers who support it say it would be the only way of quickly offering redress to subpostmasters.
This comes as it has been revealed that at least 18 people have come forward with concerns about a previous accounting system used by the Post Office before the notorious Horizon system was rolled out.
One subpostmaster who was convicted on account of shortfalls on the Capture system between 1996 and 1997 told Sky News he feels ‘betrayed’ by the Post Office. He added that he feels the Post Office had a missed opportunity to correct issues before the Horizon system was adopted.
Kevan Jones, MP, who has supported Horizon victims, says he is in touch with around ten people who may have been wrongly accused on account of the Capture software.
The scale of the Horizon scandal continues to broaden, and the depth of the issues within the Post Office, Fujitsu, and various governments continue to enter the public consciousness. Within the last few days it has been reported that even since the High Court ruled in 2019 that Fujitsu’s computer system had numerous bugs and errors, the tech company has continued to receive government contracts.
Since 2019 Fujitsu have been awarded £1.4bn in contracts, and was awarded £2bn worth of contracts prior to this, that remained active after the court ruling.
MPs called for the nature and value of these contracts to be revealed after the boss of Fujitsu in Europe admitted that staff knew of faults in Horizon as far back as 1999.