19 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Wrongful convictions – what could be worse?
Adrian Leopard 284

Wrongful convictions – what could be worse?

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So much is lost in so many ways when this happens

In what has been described as the worst case of miscarriage of justice the UK has ever seen, 39 former postmasters have had their convictions for fraud and false accounting quashed.

What is so extraordinary is that these people were ever convicted in the first place. We are told that the Post Office’s accounting system Horizon was to blame because it was somehow defective and that Post Office officials actually knew this. Quite what sort of defects were present is not known but faced with evidence of that nature, there are ways of disproving it.

What is not understood is why persons wrongfully accused were not able to get specialist advisors to assist them in proving that the Post Office figures were wrong in the first place. However, they did not and as a result people have gone to prison and had their lives ruined.

Justice is a strange thing. Of course things have moved on a lot over the years; the discovery of DNA has no doubt brought many to justice who might otherwise have escaped it and perhaps brought about the freedom of others who might have been convicted without that evidence. And yet we live in a society where many are very unhappy about the way the penalties system operates – people convicted of crimes where the courts barely give them a slap on the wrist when a prison sentence of many years would be more appropriate.

So what happens when people are wrongly convicted, especially where there was possibly corruption. Tales of police corruption over the years make your hair stand on end – all because police officers “knew” people were guilty but just couldn’t prove it. Of course perhaps they couldn’t prove it because the parties weren’t guilty after all. So much for justice.

Hopefully those wrongfully convicted by the Post Office found innocent today will be given huge damages, but can any amount of damages really compensate for the lost years and everything that went with the conviction in the first place?

Perhaps it is appropriate that today is St George’s Day, on this occasion slaying the dragon of wrongful conviction.

Adrian Leopard 23-04-21

Photo Ravit Sages

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