A LAWYER involved in the wrongful prosecution of a former Winsford sub-postmaster has apologised for the distress it caused.

Jarnail Singh, formerly a senior lawyer for the Post Office, has been giving evidence to the inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal.

The inquiry was launched after failings in the system led to the suspension, termination, prosecution and conviction of hundreds of sub-postmasters.

The faulty accounting software, provided by Japanese IT supplier Fujitsu, made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

One such sub-postmaster was Grant Allen, who now lives in Somerset but worked at the Winsford Post Office.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty in January 2013 to fraud by false representation over an £11,705 shortfall and was handed a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.

But, last year, Mr Allen had his longstanding conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal.

During the inquiry hearings on December 1 and December 2, Mr Singh discussed Mr Allen's case in which he said no evidence of Horizon defects was provided to him.

Northwich Guardian: Mr Singh was giving evidence to the inquiryMr Singh was giving evidence to the inquiry (Image: Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry)

He added: "I am sorry the absence of this evidence resulted in the wrongful conviction of Mr Allen and the loss and distress that this must have caused him.

"No information was given to me by anyone from Fujitsu (or the Post Office) during the course of the criminal proceedings against Grant Allen as to any bugs, errors, or defects in the Horizon IT system, past or present.

"In reflecting now on the way the investigation and prosecution of Mr Allen was conducted, I have reviewed the judgment of the Court of Appeal which highlights the issues that sub-postmasters were experiencing with Horizon.

"Had I known any of this information at the time, I am confident the investigation and prosecution of Mr Allen, as with other sub-postmasters would have been conducted differently, or not at all."

Mr Singh added: I would like to express my deepest sympathies to each and every sub-postmaster whose case I dealt with and to confirm that I have read all of their impact statements.

"I took my role as a criminal prosecutor seriously and always thought that I was following the correct course of action based on the information and evidence I had in front of me.

"To learn that the Horizon system was not reliable and these sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted is deeply saddening."

Following his quashed conviction, Mr Allen said via Hudgell Solicitors: "At the time I was taken to court it had already been reported the Horizon system was being investigated due to concerns.

"When my lawyers spoke to the legal team for the Post Office they were told the investigation didn’t affect my case and they just ploughed on.

"I’d been losing money at the Post Office and had no idea why we were short. I also didn’t have the money to put back in and make up the shortfall, so when auditors arrived I just said ‘we’re down’.

"It has had a huge impact on our lives. We’ve struggled ever since and we had to move home and live with my mother-in-law.

"I’ve only really ever been able to get agency work since, and I’ve not seen my sister in Los Angeles for years as I’ve not been allowed into the country due to my criminal record.

"I am glad the appeal process has unearthed evidence as to what happened with regards my prosecution and how the Post Office acted with such maliciousness. I hope it helps everybody in their cases for compensation."