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Victory in the Court of Appeal: Kathleen Crane Clears Her Name in the Post Office Horizon Scandal

Post Office Scandal

We are thrilled to announce a significant triumph in the Post Office Horizon scandal. Kathleen Crane, expertly represented by Hodge Jones & Allen and barrister Flora Page from 23ES chambers, has successfully overturned her fraud conviction in a landmark decision at the Royal Courts of Justice on January 25, 2024.

This pivotal case marks the first successful appeal following the eye-opening ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’. It was also the first appeal to have been brought as a result of the Post Office’s belated policy, following the Court of Appeal judgement in Hamilton & Others, of identifying cases where the use of evidence-based on Horizon may have led to unsafe convictions.

Mrs Crane, who operated the Eastbourne Post Office due to her late husband Robert Crane’s ill health, faced an unjust prosecution in 2010. An audit by the Post Office revealed a discrepancy of £18,721.52, leading to charges of fraud against her. The ‘evidence’ was based entirely on the now discredited Horizon IT system.

The Post Office prosecuted Mrs Crane for fraud although Mrs Crane and her husband paid back this alleged shortfall. Mrs Crane changed her plea to guilty on 30 July 2010 at Lewes Crown Court following advice from the lawyers that previously represented her and from whom key evidence about the failings of the Horizon IT system had been withheld. She was sentenced to a community order requiring the completion of 200 hours of unpaid work. The court also made a compensation order of £18,721.52 to reflect the money that had been paid back. In addition, Mrs Crane was ordered to pay £1,550 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Challenging this conviction, the HJA team highlighted the unreliable nature of the Horizon data and the Post Office’s failure to disclose known issues with the system for over a decade. Our client’s criminal appeal, filed on January 10, 2024, led to a hearing, exceptionally, just 2 weeks later where justice finally prevailed, and Mrs. Crane’s conviction was rightfully quashed.

This victory is not just a personal win for Mrs. Crane and her family who supported her steadfastly, but a beacon of hope for many others wrongfully accused in this scandal who, through the brutal misconduct of the Post Office, have not come forward so far. They are encouraged to do so because there remain deep concerns over whether the Post Office can be relied on to identify and put forward other potential miscarriages of justice which, they, the Post Office have caused.