A further two convictions in the long-running Horizon scandal have been quashed by the Court of Appeal. This brings the total number of quashed convictions up to at least 80.
Sheila Coultas and Victor Ingham were both former sub-postmasters. In 2005, Ingham was convicted of theft and false accounting, and sentenced to 15 months in jail. Three years later, Coultas was also convicted of false accounting. The Court of Appeal has now found these convictions to be unsafe. The Post Office did not oppose either appeal.
In both cases, the accused was confronted with evidence of unexplained shortfalls. This was the result of data from the inadequate Horizon computer system, later revealed to be “not remotely robust“. The Post Office made “stark” failures of disclosure, failing to reveal the problems with the system. As a result, both Coultas and Ingham admitted the charges, which gave them lesser sentences.
The Horizon system, used by Post Office branches to run their accounts, was the basis for more than 700 convictions over almost 15 years. It was revealed that the system was not fit for purpose, generating incorrect shortfalls and false errors. Nonetheless, the Post Office continued using it as the basis for private prosecutions.
This has been described as “the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice”. 30 sub-postmasters convicted in this scandal have died before receiving justice.
An inquiry into the Horizon Scandal, led by Sir Wyn Williams, is ongoing. It is expected to conclude later this year.