CCRC uses special powers to reach out to convicted sub-postmasters and counter staff


The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has written to around 170 former Post Office sub-postmasters and counter staff convicted for fraud, theft, or false accounting to offer help for those wanting to challenge their conviction.

These individuals had not responded to efforts by Post Office Ltd to contact them.  The CCRC stepped in last month and obtained the list of names from the Post Office under its Section 17 powers.

The CCRC’s letter contains details of how to apply to the CCRC to have their conviction reviewed, and information on how to appeal directly to the Courts where a right of appeal still exists.

To date the CCRC has referred 59 Post Office Horizon cases to the appeal courts. 

Of those 53 have had their convictions for fraud, theft, or false accounting overturned.

The CCRC is currently considering a further 31 applications.

This week the CCRC referred its latest Post Office case to the appeal courts.  Richard Ormerod was employed at the Summerhouse sub Post-Office near Darlington.  He pleaded guilty at South Durham magistrates’ court to three counts of false accounting and was sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £250 in costs.   Despite his guilty plea Mr Ormerod consistently denied taking any money and believed the Horizon computer system was to blame.

CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said: “Recent testimonies at the independent public inquiry into the Post Office Horizon system showed the devastating impact these convictions have had on peoples’ lives.

“It is completely understandable that many former sub-postmasters might therefore not want anything further to do with Post Office Ltd.  They may see challenging their conviction as either difficult, time-consuming, expensive, or no longer trust ‘the system’.

“The CCRC is here to help put that right. We are making it clear that we are independent, that applying to us is free and that individuals do not need a lawyer to do so. There is also no time limit on applying to us.

“We are the only body with the power to refer a case back to the appeal courts if the individual has either had an unsuccessful appeal or pleaded guilty in a magistrates’ court.”

The CCRC plans to contact around 100 more sub-postmasters and counter staff in the coming weeks.  The CCRC will also be contacting next of kin in a further handful of cases to ensure they are aware they can challenge the conviction of a deceased relative.

One Post Office case, out of the normal run of things, that the CCRC considered was the third application seeking to overturn the murder conviction of Robin Garbutt who murdered his sub-postmistress wife in the living quarters of Melsonby Post Office in North Yorkshire (read more here). The application has been provisionally refused by the criminal justice watchdog and, unless there is a change of heart following further submissions from Garbutt’s legal team, the conviction will stand and not be referred to the Court of Appeal.

Page last updated: Monday 4th April, 2022 at 1435 hours

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Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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