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Family of late Post Office victim win fight to clear her name – BBC News

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Image caption, Caren Lorimer’s husband David said he was sorry she never lived long enough to see her name cleared

  • Author, Katie Hunter
  • Role, BBC Scotland News

The family of a convicted sub-postmistress who died before her name was cleared say they have made her final wish come true.

Caren Lorimer’s family took on her case after her death from cancer in April 2022.

They were expecting to be back in court this week but her conviction was quashed sooner than expected.

Caren’s husband David Lorimer said it “meant the world to him” but he was sad that his late wife had died before she was exonerated.

Caren had worked in the New Farm Loch Post Office in Kilmarnock for 17 years before an audit in 2008 uncovered an apparent £38,000 shortfall.

She pled guilty to embezzlement to avoid going to prison.

At the time Caren had a four-year-old son and an adult daughter.

In 2009, she was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and forced to pay the Post Office £15,000.

She was one of hundreds of people across the UK falsely accused of crimes like theft and false accounting.

The Horizon Post Office scandal has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in the UK in recent times.

Caren’s family were hoping her name would be cleared at a court hearing on Friday but her niece, Joanne Hughes, received an email from the family’s lawyer ten days ago.

To her delight it confirmed her aunt’s conviction had been quashed.

Image caption, (From left to right) David Lorimer, Caren’s niece Joanne Hughes, daughter Laura Miller and son Jack Lorimer said the result meant the world to the family

Joanne said: “The first thing I did was call David and I don’t even think I said hello, I just said ‘That’s it, she’s clear, she’s clear!’

“I think we both had goosebumps.

“It’s like we’ve made her final wish come true, which is priceless.”

David said it was amazing but that his emotions were up and down.

He added: “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 her. She’ll be happy up there just now.”

Caren’s name would likely have been cleared by Scottish Parliament legislation automatically exonerating all affected sub-postmasters.

The new law will come into force in Scotland once the bill receives royal assent.

But Caren’s family had already started the process to have her conviction quashed in the appeal court.

She is the seventh person in Scotland to have their name cleared through that route.

While Caren’s family are delighted her conviction has been quashed they say it is bittersweet.

Image caption, Caren and her daughter Laura

Caren’s daughter Laura Miller was 25 when her mum was convicted.

She told BBC Scotland News it was extremely important for her mother’s name to be cleared.

Laura said: “I find it most upsetting that she died a convicted criminal.

“That can’t be undone. I’m happy she’s exonerated but she died a convicted criminal.

“Something my mum hadn’t done and she’s taken it with her.”

She said her mother would be delighted that her name had been cleared.

Laura added: “She knew all along she’d done nothing wrong. So did we.

“Now it’s just the proof that she really didn’t do it.”

In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) had sole responsibility for prosecuting Horizon cases, whereas in England the Post Office could act as prosecutor.

The COPFS knew in 2013 there were potential problems with the Post Office Horizon IT system and it officially stopped prosecuting cases in 2015.

But it didn’t review historic convictions like Caren’s.

A COPFS spokesman said they empathised with those who had suffered from injustice.

He added: “Scotland’s prosecutors acted in good faith upon evidence presented to them.

“When Horizon prosecutions stopped, we had been assured that a further review of cases would not reveal miscarriages of justice.

“It was only following the litigation in England in 2019 that the true and full extent of the issues with the Horizon system came to light.

“The actions of the Post Office are being examined in a public inquiry and investigated by police.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We apologise unreservedly to victims of the Horizon IT Scandal and our focus remains on supporting the ongoing public inquiry to establish the truth of what happened so those affected can receive the justice and redress they deserve.”

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