Metropolitan Police | Post Office Scandal | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team
24th November 2020
On 12th November 2020 the Metropolitan Police began a criminal investigation into potential perjury offences in relation to expert evidence given at the trials of postmasters wrongly convicted of theft and accounting fraud offences.
Police Investigation | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team
The Post Office brought private prosecutions against hundreds of former postmasters in relation to alleged accounting fraud. It later transpired the Post Office’s Horizon accounting system had a number of defects causing accounts to be misreported.
The Post Office’s combined role as the victim, investigator and prosecutor was also subject to scrutiny by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in October 2020, which stated that the prosecutions were used to facilitate debt recovery and that its investigations were flawed. A number of the convicted postmasters brought legal action against the Post Office, with dozens of convictions now referred to the Court of Appeal and expected to be overturned.
The Metropolitan Police’s investigation was prompted by a letter sent from Mr Justice Fraser, who presided over the litigation brought by postmasters against the Post Office, to the Director of Public Prosecutions in January 2020. It states that Fujitsu, the company that ran the Post Office’s Horizon accounting software, was aware of IT issues from 1999 but failed to disclose them in court.
At a hearing at the Court of Appeal on 18th November 2020, it was revealed that in his letter Mr Justice Fraser has referred two former IT experts for Fujitsu Gareth Jenkins, 68, and Anne Chambers, 63, to the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Jenkins and Mrs Chambers gave evidence for the prosecution against subsequently convicted postmasters, and the Metropolitan Police is now investigating whether they committed perjury in misleading those trials.
Mr Justice Fraser’s letter states: “On the basis of information that has come to my attention as a result of the Post Office group litigation, I consider important evidence given both to the Crown Court and the High Court on previous occasions in other cases was not true, and was known not to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, at the time it was given.
Prior to the group litigation, expert evidence was given to the Crown Court by Fujitsu witnesses, and also to the High Court in at least one case, that there were no widespread bugs, errors or defects in Horizon.
“[The] earliest bugs occurred and were known about in 1999, and these continued throughout the period every year to 2018.”
Rosenblatt can help
Rosenblatt has a wealth of experience in financial crime and is uniquely placed to support clients that are the subject of Private Prosecutions or investigations by the Police having being involved in some of the most high profile investigations into multi-million-pound, cross jurisdictional fraud cases in the UK.