Post Office public inquiry hearings in NI in May
The public inquiry into the Post Office scandal that saw sub-postmasters across the UK wrongly convicted of fraud, will hold hearings in Northern Ireland next month.
The Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry opened in London earlier this year under the chairmanship of retired High Court judge Sir Wyn Williams.
The cases have been described as the most “widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history”, with a total of 72 former sub-postmasters having had their names cleared so far.
Between 2000 and 2014, more than 700 sub-postmasters and postmistresses across the UK were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a flaw in the Horizon computer system.
Many workers were convicted after faulty accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their post offices.
Nineteen Post Office workers in Northern Ireland were convicted, but it’s believed more victims in Northern Ireland have yet to come forward.
Sir Wyn Williams has now announced that he will hold “human impact hearings” in Belfast on 18 and 19 May.
At these hearings, the inquiry will take evidence from people, adversely affected by the Horizon IT System, who were or are resident in Northern Ireland.
These hearings will bring to a close the sessions, across the UK, in which oral evidence is taken relating to the human impact.
Public hearings covering phases two and three of the inquiry, which were due to be held in the summer, have now been delayed.
The chairman has explained that the inquiry has received vast amounts of documentation, relevant to both phases.
Sir Wyn said this documentation is likely to be of considerable evidential significance and it is vitally important that it is assessed thoroughly before oral evidence is taken and tested.
He said it was with considerable reluctance that he has decided to delay the start date of the phase two hearings to the week commencing 12 September 2022.
The precise commencement date and the venue for the hearings will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Phase three will commence shortly after phase two has been completed.
Sir Wyn has stressed that he remains committed to progressing matters as swiftly as he can.