The forensic accountant who helped to uncover the Post Office scandal has said that a senior lawyer appeared to be involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Ian Henderson, a director of Second Sight Investigations, told the public inquiry today that documents showing conclusively that sub-postmasters were innocent were not disclosed.

Henderson, appointed in 2012 by the Post Office to investigate Horizon-related cases, said that by February 2015 he believed this to be a ‘cover-up by POL and possibly a criminal conspiracy’.

Out of 10 cases where Second Sight was provided with full access to Post Office legal files, Henderson reported that there was ‘compelling evidence’ in two cases that potentially exculpatory material had not been disclosed, either at trial or subsequently. These two cases involved the convicted sub-postmasters Jo Hamilton and Seema Misra.

Henderson told the inquiry that in Misra’s case, the Post Office knew about bugs in Horizon but made a public interest immunity application at the time of her prosecution in 2010 to prevent disclosure of these documents. The application was granted and the documents were not disclosed to Misra, who was pregnant with her second child when she was jailed for 15 months.

In Hamlton’s case, Henderson uncovered a Post Office security report in 2015 stating that there had been no evidence of theft or that cash figures had been deliberately inflated. Hamilton was nonetheless charged with theft and false accounting and pleaded guilty to the latter charge in 2006.

Henderson told the inquiry that in June 2015 he received a letter from Rodric Williams, a Post Office in-house solicitor, asserting privilege over the Hamilton security report. ‘I found this assertion to be absurd and to be immensely worrying,’ Henderson wrote in his witness statement. ‘It was beginning to look more like a cover-up than a genuine concern about legal professional privilege.’

Rodric Williams

Williams appeared before the inquiry in April

Source: Alamy

Williams, who appeared before the inquiry in April and continues to be employed by the Post Office, was told by Henderson in 2015 that no claim of legal professional privilege could be made. The inquiry heard that Hamilton was not provided with a copy of her case report by Post Office.

Henderson told the inquiry: ‘I was shocked that a senior POL lawyer appeared to be involved in what appeared to me, to be a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice (or similar criminal offence).

‘My immediate thought was, if POL is prepared to do this with Jo Hamilton, how many other cases have also been treated in a similar way?’

Henderson also recalled that at the conclusion of a mediation working group meeting, acting Post Office head of legal Chris Aujard ‘warned me to be careful’ about what he was saying.

‘[Aujard] told me that if I said anything that harmed POL, POL would not hesitate to take legal action against me under the terms of my non-disclosure agreement and that I would not be able to afford the legal fees,’ added Henderson. ‘I took this as a thinly veiled threat to bankrupt me if I continued causing trouble.’

The inquiry continues.