"What if you know they are guilty?" and the Post office

Written by
Doug McConnell

Why "What if you know they are guilty?" should never be asked to criminal defence lawyer.

The Post Office scandal rocked the UK when it was revealed that the introduction of a new IT system led to wrongful accusations of financial discrepancies against numerous subpostmasters and subpostmistresses. These individuals faced life changing repercussions, including wrongful prosecutions and convictions. This scandal shed light on a number of areas of law, one of the most important being the importance of upholding the presumption of innocence.

In Scots law, as in many legal systems, the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle. It means that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty. This principle is essential because it protects individuals from unjust assumptions and ensures that they are given a fair chance to defend themselves. Now, let's address the question "What if you know they are guilty?" This question undermines the presumption of innocence and the principles of fairness that are integral to Scots law. Asking this question implies a bias against the accused and disregards the need for evidence and due process. The Post Office scandal serves as a stark reminder of why the presumption of innocence is so crucial. It illustrates the harm that can arise when individuals are unfairly targeted without proper evidence or a fair trial.

The UK Post Office scandal highlights the significance of upholding the presumption of innocence in Scots law. It underscores the need to protect individuals from unjust accusations and emphasises the importance of fair treatment for all, regardless of the nature of the allegations against them.

As a final thought, I forget the amount of times I have heard from wrongly accused clients that "I thought it would never happen to me!". If you are thinking exactly this while you are reading this article, then perhaps when you are posting your next parcel remember those caught up in the latest scandal.