The British government is under pressure to deal with one of the worst wrongful conviction scandals in the country’s history, but the fallout might provoke ministers to go too far in tightening the rules that allow individuals and organizations to bring private prosecutions, McGuireWoods London partner Francesca Titus told The Times in a Jan. 18, 2024, story.
Between 1999 and 2015 more than 700 postmasters were wrongly convicted of crimes like theft and fraud because of errors allegedly caused by the Post Office’s own accounting software, in cases that the Post Office brought using its powers to investigate and prosecute. The Times reported that the chairman of the House of Commons’ justice committee has called for strengthening safeguards for those subjected to such private prosecutions.
Titus cautioned that the scandal reflects failings at the Post Office rather than with the laws concerning private prosecutions, which often provide a way for crime victims to achieve a measure of justice.
“With the backdrop of the scandal there is a real danger that politicians — in a need to be seen to be doing something — will throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Titus told The Times.