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SRA watching inquiry into Post Office scandal
(Pic: Shutterstock)

19 Jan 2024 / britain Print

SRA watching inquiry into Post Office scandal

The body that regulates the solicitors’ profession in England and Wales has said that there is no immediate need for action against individuals implicated in the Post Office Horizon scandal.

The Law Society Gazette of England and Wales says that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued its second statement this month on its response to the scandal, which led to hundreds of postmasters being wrongly prosecuted or convicted for false accounting, theft, and fraud due to glitches in a software system that incorrectly showed money missing from accounts in post-office branches.

The regulator said that it expected to be in the best position to get to the right outcome after the full facts and relevant issues had been aired through an ongoing public inquiry.

Dedicated team

The SRA stressed that it would take action, where evidence was found that solicitors had fallen short of the standards the public expected. Live investigations into the actions of lawyers are continuing, and a dedicated team is tasked with scrutinising tens of thousands of pages of evidence.

“We are keeping our position under constant review,” the statement said. “We will continue to engage with the inquiry to make sure we are aware of any issues that may require more immediate action.

“At the moment, we do not have evidence to show that any solicitor presents an ongoing risk to the public that needs to be addressed through urgent action.”

Role of lawyers

The Gazette says that the scandal has attracted unprecedented levels of media attention since an ITV drama on the issue, Mr Bates v The Post Office, was screened earlier this month.

Much of the resulting discussion into how hundreds of sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted has focused on the role of lawyers involved during prosecutions. Several solicitors have already given evidence during the most recent phase of the inquiry.

The SRA issued a previous statement on its Post Office response last week. According to the Gazette, the second statement suggests that it is keen to show the public how seriously it is treating the issue, while still holding the line that it is best to wait until the end of the inquiry.

The regulator said that its investigation, which began in 2021, covered “multiple, multi-faceted issues” involving possible misconduct.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland