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Tuesday, 23 January 2024

The government has recently announced that it intends to quash by legislation convictions of hundreds of subpostmasters who had been prosecuted by the Post Office for, variously, theft, fraud and false accounting. This follows a number of appeals which have already succeeded where it has been accepted that convictions that are based on generated by the Horizon software are necessarily unsafe. Usually, one would expect other subpostmasters to have to follow that same route, but the government is concerned about the delay in processing so many cases. Nonetheless it is unprecedented to quash convictions by legislative fiat in a situation when the courts would yet be competent to do the same; and notwithstanding the concerns of criminal and constitutional lawyers, a Bill to this effect appears likely to be produced this year and to receive support from all sides of the House of Commons.

In this short video Dr Jonathan Rogers explains the background, explores the challenges that will face those who draft the legislation, and comments further on the likely reservations that many will still entertain about this innovation.

Jonathan Rogers is Associate Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He co-founded the Criminal Law Reform Now Network in 2017 and leads an ongoing project by that network into the reform of private prosecutions, and in that capacity he gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee in 2020 on safeguards in the wake of the Post Office scandal.

For more information about Dr Rogers, you can also refer to his staff profile.

Law in Focus is a series of short videos featuring academics from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, addressing legal issues in current affairs and the news. These issues are examples of the many which challenge researchers and students studying undergraduate and postgraduate law at the Faculty.  Law in Focus is available on YouTube, or to subscribe to in iTunes or other podcast platforms.

Other collections of video and audio recordings from the Faculty of Law are available on the Lectures at Law page.


Law in Focus on YouTube

Law in Focus on iTunes