Yorkshire man among seven more former subpostmasters who have had Horizon scandal convictions overturned

Seven more former subpostmasters who were wrongly convicted as a result of the Post Office Horizon scandal have been cleared by the Court of Appeal.

On Monday, November 22, three senior judges overturned the convictions of seven people who were convicted based on evidence from the faulty IT system used by the Post Office from 2000.

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Picken and Mrs Justice Farbey, quashed the convictions of Pauline Stonehouse, Angela Sefton, Janine Powell, Anne Nield, Gregory Harding, Marissa Finn and Jamie Dixon.

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The former Post Office workers had been accused of offences including theft and false accounting related to shortfalls of tens of thousands of pounds.

(Left-right) Christopher Stonehouse, Pauline Stonehouse, Gillian Harding and Gregory Harding outside the the Royal Courts of Justice, London. Former subpostmasters Mr Harding and Mrs Stonehouse have been been cleared by the Court of Appeal after they were wrongly convicted as a result of the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Their appeals were unopposed by the Post Office, which accepted that evidence about the reliability of the Fujitsu-developed system was “essential” to their convictions.

Gregory Harding, 61, a former subpostmaster in Hipperholme, West Yorkshire, said “words can’t describe” how he felt after being cleared by the Court of Appeal.

“I feel a lot better now,” he said, adding he was “a lot happier”.

Mr Harding described having lost friends after his wrongful conviction for one count of false accounting in 2010, with people “blanking me” and “walking straight past me not even acknowledging me”.

The father-of-one from Bradford, who was supported in court by his wife Gillian, said he now hoped he could return to places he used to visit and be met with “a smile instead of a scowl”.

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Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, who represented five of the former subpostmasters whose convictions were quashed, said they had experienced “devastating loss, hurt, worry and tragedy”.

He said: “The Court of Appeal has today cleared the names of yet more people who each have personal stories of devastating loss, hurt, worry and tragedy relating to them being wrongfully and unfairly prosecuted for crimes they didn’t commit. Those convictions have hung over each of them for many years.”

Mr Hudgell added: “These cases today are every bit as significant and as important as the first successful appeals against conviction back in April.

“The rising number of acquittals make these cases no less important or significant.

“Indeed, each new acquittal adds extra importance to the continued push for answers and accountability from the Post Office, and they are further, real-life evidence of the immense harm caused to so many.”

Pauline Stonehouse, 49, a former subpostmistress in Seaburn, Sunderland, said she felt “massive relief” after her convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the mother-of-two said her conviction for six counts of false accounting in 2008 was “horrible”.

“To have a good day for a change was nice,” she told the PA news agency.

Ms Stonehouse, of Pallion, Sunderland, who was supported in court by her husband Christopher, described the impact of her “horrendous” experience.

“We lost our home, we lost our business, we were homeless with two children under the age of eight. We ended up bankrupt, we ended up with nothing,” she said.

Ms Stonehouse said she wanted “an apology with my name on it” from the Post Office over her case.

“I’d like a personal apology, I think we should all get a personal apology,” she said.

Following the seven successful appeals on Monday, a Post Office spokesperson said: “Post Office is extremely sorry for historical failures and the impact on the lives of people affected.

“Whilst we cannot change the past, we have taken determined action to ensure there is appropriate redress.

“Ahead of final compensation, we are expediting offers of interim payments of up to £100,000 to people whose convictions have been overturned where the reliability of Horizon data was essential to the prosecution.

“We have also undertaken wholesale reforms to prevent such events ever happening again.”

The seven newly-cleared former subpostmasters are among hundreds of people who ran Post Office branches convicted of various offences based on evidence from the faulty IT system used by the Post Office from 2000.

More than 70 people have since had their convictions overturned, including six further ex-subpostmasters who were cleared at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.