The Post Office Project
The Post Office Project

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The Scandal

The Hamilton and Bates cases raised profound concerns about governance and management at the Post Office (and Fujitsu), the conduct of their lawyers, and the operation of the criminal and civil justice systems, including criminal defence practice. Thousands of lives were blighted; over 900 sub-postmasters, -mistresses and PO employees were prosecuted; over 700 were convicted, and appeals continue to add to the roll-call of over 80 convictions quashed.

The Scandal raises profound issues concerning corporate governance, the criminal justice system, the efficacy of professional regulation, and government and parliamentary oversight and accountability.

It is also an extraordinary example of a more familiar phenomenon:

corporate governance problems being enabled by lawyers acting in professionally questionable ways (what we refer to as professional pathologies as a useful shorthand).

This project will document and explore what went wrong during the Scandal itself and what lessons can be learnt about what drives lawyers’ decision-making, more generally. It will also produce insights on corporate governance and failures within the criminal justice system.

We want to explore what we call professional pathologies (harmful ways of thinking or behaving) to improve thinking on lawyers’ ethics and provide critical insights to regulators, policy makers, and professionals faced with ethical pressures on the ground.

More simply, the story of the Post Office scandal is worth telling and the public debate on lawyers involved with and connected to the scandal needs to be informed by perspectives on professionalism and lawyering.

Watch and and listen to the story

This video explains our view of the Scandal as it stood in June 2023. We expect the story to develop rapidly in the Autumn of 2023 as many of the lawyers referred to here give evidence. Another good place to start is the submisisons we made to the Inquiry when asking them to take the role of lawyers in the Scandal seriously (which were referred to when the Chair confirmed he was going to look at such matters, see here, para. 14)

Key Stats


Defendants convicted
on the basis of Horizon evidence
acquitted to date

At least 0%

Of acquitted defendants initially pleaded guilty