Judges have quashed the convictions of 39 former postmasters after the UK's most widespread miscarriage of justice.

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
DWP are another. As a benefits/general adviser I can help to a degree but if it's an interview under caution then time for a lawyer.
Oh yes, they do use their power often.

Another is trading standards/the local authority, and the Environment Agency in the case of commercial fly tipping and other significant environmental damage.

The National Rivers Authority (I think that's what it's called) also prosecute for fishing without a licence.

I was under the impression that, subject to certain constraints, any individual or organisation can initiate a private prosecution.
That is true, but there are restrictions on anyone who doesn't have the statutory authority.

The CPS might take the case over, or stop a prosecution they consider vexatious.

Those with that authority are largely left to get on with it - which neatly brings us back to one of the major problems with the postmasters and the Post Office's apparent abuse of their power.
 
I tried to find a list I've seen online about the number of organisations which have the statutory power to prosecute the citizen.

There are dozens, although most rarely use it.

Common ones you will see include the Health and Safety Executive, the RSPCA, RSPB (typically nest raiders), and whatever the vehicle inspectorate is called these days.
In a way I am relieved to find out that the Police and the Crown prosecutors were not involved. Brought back faith in the system.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
In a way I am relieved to find out that the Police and the Crown prosecutors were not involved. Brought back faith in the system.
The police may have been involved to the limited extent of making some arrests, although some postmasters may have attended at the Post Office voluntarily for interview.

To be clear, that's no criticism of the police.

As an organisation with statutory authority to prosecute, the Post Office would only have told the police what they needed to know to secure their cooperation, which wouldn't have been a lot more than the name and address of the postmaster and where to take him.

I didn't see this scandal coming, but I've long thought it's a bit dodgy that so many organisations, none of which have the police's training or accountability, have the authority to prosecute.
 
I tell this story as it tells how power can be easily abused. A pharmacy chain hired a new security chap to look into pilfering. First day on job and he nicked a sales staff on pilferage and staff was referred to the police, arrested. By the end of the day, he ended up sending a few more sales staff from various stores under his beat. When the investigators started interviewing and found out that the duty pharmacist was doing the same, they arrested her. Company management came running when the phamarcist was arrested and the IO said that he had statements from
I didn't see this scandal coming, but I've long thought it's a bit dodgy that so many organisations, none of which have the police's training or accountability, have the authority to prosecute.
Absolutely agree on this point.
 

newfhouse

Regressive elitist lefty
I tried to find a list I've seen online about the number of organisations which have the statutory power to prosecute the citizen.

There are dozens, although most rarely use it.

Common ones you will see include the Health and Safety Executive, the RSPCA, RSPB (typically nest raiders), and whatever the vehicle inspectorate is called these days.
When I worked for Ofcom (the part that used to be the Radiocommunications Agency) they brought prosecutions to court themselves, so as technical investigators we were trained to interview suspects under caution, PACE, RIPA etc. We were able to apply for and execute our own search warrants and were very well equipped, and police trained, on forced entry techniques. We even had a limited power of arrest for WT Act offences, but strict orders to never exercise it, fortunately. A couple of retired coppers on the payroll helped to give us the appearance of some procedural competence, but it was a pretty thin veneer.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
When I worked for Ofcom (the part that used to be the Radiocommunications Agency) they brought prosecutions to court themselves, so as technical investigators we were trained to interview suspects under caution, PACE, RIPA etc. We were able to apply for and execute our own search warrants and were very well equipped, and police trained, on forced entry techniques. We even had a limited power of arrest for WT Act offences, but strict orders to never exercise it, fortunately. A couple of retired coppers on the payroll helped to give us the appearance of some procedural competence, but it was a pretty thin veneer.
I've very little knowledge of the investigative stage of private prosecutions, but your post rings true with me having seen the state of some of the cases when they land at court.

Barristers who specialise in this work will tell you they are routinely presented with a box of papers in no particular order, and key pieces of information are often missing.

Things also go awry with police/CPS cases, but their preparation is a model of professionalism in comparison.

Another problem, which is certainly not the fault of the investigating agencies, is the law in their area is often complicated, and few people in the legal profession have much grasp of it.

More or less any barrister can competently prosecute or defend the routine thumping and thieving which makes up so much of the criminal courts' work, because they are so familiar with it.

But the far corners of one of the many Environment Acts, just as one example, is a different matter.

Everyone, including the judge, starts on the back foot with a case like that, so it hardly surprising such cases often don't proceed smoothly.

Here's a recent one which fell before it reached the final hurdles.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-56770096
 
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