Judge ‘surprised’ at attempt to withhold documents from Post Office case appeal

Lawyers for the Post Office said they need more time to complete the disclosure process.

Judge ‘surprised’ at attempt to withhold documents from Post Office case appeal PA Media

A senior judge has said she is “surprised” documents relating to an appeal against a subpostmaster’s son’s conviction for stealing £35,000 are still being withheld from court.

More than 700 Post Office branch managers around the UK were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after faulty Horizon accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their shops, with many convictions subsequently being overturned.

About 100 subpostmasters in Scotland were convicted after they were wrongly accused of embezzling money in the scandal, and First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to get “justice” for those involved.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred cases to the High Court over potential miscarriages of justice.

At the Appeal Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday, Ravinder Naga challenged a conviction for stealing £35,000 from the Post Office where his mother worked in Greenock, Inverclyde.

He was given 300 hours’ community service in February 2010 after pleading guilty at Greenock Sheriff Court, where it was said that charges against his mother had been dropped after the pair attended a police station and he gave a voluntary interview.

At an interim hearing at the Court of Session, judge Lady Dorrian said it was a “matter for concern” that the Post Office had sought to retain privilege over documents relating to the case, which would prevent them from being used in the appeal.

Lewis Kennedy, representing Mr Naga, told the court that in the past week the prosecution had provided “a large dump of documents” relating to the case.

He added: “A number of documents identified by the commissioner as being likely to be disclosable have not been disclosed by the prosecution.

“In relation to a number of other documents, the prosecution have continued to assert privilege.”

Gerry Moynihan KC, representing the Post Office, told the court the disclosure process was ongoing, and the “majority” of documents were being disclosed as part of the case.

He added they are yet to reach a decision on whether to assert privilege on a number of documents.

Lady Dorrian said: “The court is surprised that at this late stage in proceedings, and given everything that’s happened so far, the prosecution have retained privilege on so many documents.”

She ended the hearing by saying: “There’s a very clear suspicion… that this is more to do with protecting what’s left of the Post Office’s reputation, rather than assisting the court and the appellants.”

She scheduled a further procedural hearing for June 14.

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