Post Office ‘Horizon’ Appeals

2 Bedford Row’s Brian Altman QC, Simon Baker QC, Jacqueline Carey, Charlotte Brewer and Helen Jones, instructed by Nick Vamos and Hannah Laming of Peters & Peters, appeared on behalf of Post Office Ltd in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, in relation to the 42 cases referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in what was the largest conjoined appeal ever heard by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. (R v Hamilton & Others [2021] EWCA Crime 577).

The appeals all related to individuals who had been prosecuted by the Royal Mail Group and post-2012 by Post Office Ltd between 2000 and 2013 relying on evidence from the Horizon accounting system which has since been found to suffer from bugs, errors and defects. None of the counsel team, nor Peters & Peters, had been involved in prosecuting any of the cases during this period, and were brought in to conduct a thorough review of the cases to ensure proper disclosure was made and to advise on and conduct the appeals.

Leading a team of over 60 review counsel (including many from 2 Bedford Row), the counsel team oversaw an enormous post-conviction disclosure review exercise (with over 4 million documents subjected to review and substantially over 300,000 pages of material disclosed) to enable the Appellants to advance their appeals.  Although the Court of Appeal did criticise historic disclosure failures at the time of the prosecutions, the Court’s judgment praised the thorough and diligent post-conviction exercise undertaken by Peters & Peters and the current counsel team (paragraph 61), which meant that the Appellants were able to make their arguments.

Following advice from the counsel team, the appeals of the 39 successful Appellants had been conceded on grounds of limb one abuse of process (with four of those 39 appeals conceded on grounds of both limb one and limb two abuse of process). Only three of the 42 appeals were opposed on all grounds, and the Court of Appeal upheld all three of those convictions.

The counsel team have also been advising the Post Office, and continue to advise, on the reviews of hundreds of further convictions in cases prosecuted by Royal Mail Group and the Post Office since 2000.

You can read the full judgment here: https://bit.ly/3b0fgIA


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Related Barristers

Barrister Brian Altman

Brian Altman QC

Silk: 2008

Call: 1981

Barrister Simon Baker

Simon Baker QC

Silk: 2021

Call: 1998