Britain’s Post Office Horizon Scandal

Britain’s Post Office Horizon Scandal – Mapping the Timeline

Britain’s Post Office Horizon scandal was a significant miscarriage of justice in the UK, spanning from 1999 to 2015. It involved the wrongful prosecution of over 700 Post Office operators for theft and false accounting due to flaws in the Horizon IT accounting system. A High Court ruling in December 2019 revealed that the Horizon system contained significant bugs, errors, and defects, casting doubts on the integrity of the data used to secure many convictions. Despite ongoing concerns and a decades-long campaign for justice, only a fraction of convictions had been overturned as of January 2024. The scandal prompted a criminal investigation and a public inquiry to uncover the truth and seek justice for those affected.


Miscarriage of Justice: Over 700 Post Office operators prosecuted for theft and false accounting due to the faulty Horizon IT system.

December 2019

High Court Ruling: Horizon IT system found to have significant bugs, errors, and defects, causing wrongful convictions.

January 2020

Metropolitan Police Investigation: Begin examining possible offences related to the scandal, including perjury and perverting the course of justice.

December 2019 - January 2024

Convictions Overturned: As of January 2024, only 95 convictions have been overturned.

Early January 2024

Trigger Event: ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office airs, bringing the issue back into the spotlight.

January 2024

Government Action: Proposes legislation to exonerate all remaining wrongfully prosecuted sub-postmasters.

Ongoing (2024)

Expanded Investigation: Involves 80 detectives across the UK, coordinated by the Metropolitan Police.

Public Inquiry: Ongoing, with hearings set to conclude later in the year. Final report expected in autumn 2025.

Funding: Officers request £6.75m from the government to fund the expanded investigation.

Autumn 2025

Public Inquiry Report: Expected to be published.


Criminal Charges: Earliest possible filing of charges following the conclusion of the public inquiry.

Additional Key Facts

Rule of Law Concerns: Debate over the balance between executive, legislature, and judiciary. Emphasis on the importance of separation of powers.

CCRC Involvement: Criminal Cases Review Commission handles 171 Post Office-related applications. Funding cuts have impacted its effectiveness.

Expert Opinions: Support for exceptional legislation due to the volume of affected individuals.

Legislation Scope: To be passed for England and Wales, with ongoing discussions for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Impact on Legal Profession: Concerns about competence, ethics, and professional conduct. Ongoing research to prevent future failings.

Regulatory Actions: Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board monitoring the situation, with live investigations into implicated solicitors and law firms.

Post Office and Fujitsu: Under police investigation for over four years following a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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