Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 5:35 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Sentamu Lord Sentamu Crossbench 5:35, 13 Mai 2024

My Lords, I was not intending to speak, but the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and other noble Lords here, have posed for me a conundrum. By the way, I live in a village where there is a Conundrum road, right near the Scottish border. When you face a conundrum, what do you do? I want to support this Bill, but I have a problem: the issue that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, raised about the 13 people whose appeals were turned down. If you include them in this Bill, you would be directly interfering with the Court of Appeal, by saying to the court that you do not agree with what it did and so are pardoning these people.

My suggestion is that, in the light of the evidence that we have been hearing at the inquiry, the Minister and the Government need to go back and find other lawyers to see whether there is still fresh evidence that can emerge, so that those 13 people can go back to the Court of Appeal. My worry is that, if you legislate en bloc, as has been suggested, you run the danger that you are definitely interfering and telling the Court of Appeal that its decision was not the right one. That needs resolving. If you do not resolve it for the likes of me, I will find myself in a conundrum.

Secondly, why do the Department for Work and Pensions convictions not require the same examination as for all other convictions? Somebody somewhere has got to bend their mind to those 61 cases. If you do not do it, you give the impression that they had better evidence, and that because people have not appealed it is therefore not going to be followed up on.

For me, this Bill should not have a say in what the Court of Appeal’s decision was in those 13 cases. On the Department for Work and Pensions, again I suggest that somebody needs to look afresh at those 61 cases and at whether there is a possibility—not through this Bill—of fresh hearings by the Court of Appeal.