Conviction of Horizon scandal victim who died in 2022 quashed

The family of a subpostmistress who was falsely accused of embezzling Post Office funds have won a fight to clear her name, 15 years after she was convicted.

Caren Lorimer pleaded guilty at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in 2009 to one charge of embezzlement from the town’s New Farm Loch Post Office, where she had worked for 17 years.

She was handed a community service order requiring 300 hours of unpaid work and a compensation order for £15,000.

Following Ms Lorimer’s death in 2022, her family sought a review of her conviction, and days before an appeal hearing was due to take place, her conviction has been quashed.

Post Office Horizon IT scandal
David Lorimer, husband of the late Caren Lorimer, with his niece Joanne Hughes, outside the Court of Session, at Parliament House in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Her widower, David Lorimer, who previously said it would mean “the world” for the family for her conviction to be overturned, told the BBC: “I’m really, really happy and I’m really sad that Caren’s not here but she’ll know. She’ll know.

“She’d be so proud of everything we’ve done for her. She’ll be happy up there just now.”

Ms Lorimer’s daughter, Laura, told the broadcaster it was “upsetting” her mother had not lived to see her name cleared.

More than 700 Post Office branch managers around the UK were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after faulty Horizon accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their branches.

Michael Walker, chief executive of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), said: “Subpostmasters are still coming forward to tell us that they have suffered a miscarriage of justice.

“We encourage anyone who hasn’t yet done so to get in touch. If the person affected has died, we will accept applications from next of kin. Our service is free and easy to use. You don’t need a solicitor.

“If you believe that you or a close family member might have suffered a miscarriage of justice as a result of Horizon, our staff would be pleased to talk you through the application process.”

About 100 subpostmasters in Scotland were convicted after they were wrongly accused of embezzling money in the Horizon scandal, and many around the UK have had their convictions overturned in recent years.

Legislation to exonerate the hundreds of subpostmasters in England and Wales convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal was introduced on March 13, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described as an “important step” in clearing their names.

The Scottish Government passed a Bill to exonerate subpostmasters in Scotland who were wrongly convicted on May 30, meaning those convicted of “relevant offences” will have the conviction quashed when the legislation comes into force.

The Post Office has been contacted for comment.

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