Finance

Legal accolades recognise Neil Hudgell’s role in Post Office Horizon IT scandal

The solicitor behind the subpostmasters’ successful fight for justice following the Post Office IT scandal has been named Legal Personality of the Year.

Neil Hudgell, owner and executive chair of his eponymous Hull-headquartered firm, was celebrated at the national Law Society Excellence Awards.

It follows a year in the media spotlight for Mr Hudgell, having played a pivotal role in unravelling one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in UK legal history.

Read more: Hull’s rugby league leaders unite to talk success in business

Wrongfully convicted of crimes relating to financial shortfalls at the branches they ran, lives and reputations were ruined – many were jailed – in a scandal running almost 20 years. The victims were innocent, hard-working, law-abiding members of communities.

Mr Hudgell said he was ‘exceptionally proud’ that his firm had been founded on ‘righting wrongs for people who need legal support the most’.

He said: “It was obviously an exceptionally proud night for myself personally, but I take greater pride in where we are now as a legal firm, as we have the expertise, strength, ability and crucially the desire across the board truly make a positive difference for people who need us the most.

“Clients want people representing them who will truly care about their situation, care about looking after their needs and give them the best possible service.

“That fits our values of righting wrongs every day. We are committed to fighting for the people who need us the most, not those who can pay the most, and that is where we do our best work. It is a pleasure to work with, and for them.”

Neil Hudgell outside the Royal Courts of Justice as the appeal verdict for the subpostmasters is heard.

Motivated to clear the subpostmasters’ names and led by Mr Hudgell, the firm provided legal expertise over a 12-month period, at the beginning on an entirely pro bono basis, leading the highest ever number of appellants to go to the Court of Appeal in one case in April 2021.

Working alongside Tim Moloney QC, of Doughty Street Chambers, Hudgells has now successfully represented 48 of the 57 former subpostmasters to have long-standing criminal convictions quashed to this date, and will also be the legal representatives at a public inquiry next year.

The same day saw Mr Hudgell, who also chairs rugby league side Hull Kingston Rovers, named Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year at the Yorkshire Legal Awards.

The firm was also a finalist in the Law Firm of the Year category at both events.

Mr Hudgell said: “Both these awards events were full of law firms brimming with exceptional legal expertise. I think we have stood out for going that extra mile for clients and helping turn lives around for the better. That makes me immensely proud and I think it’s a fabulous recognition of what’s possible when you have trust in people.

“Our clients face very challenging situations and they put their trust in Hudgells, so to look after them we have to put trust in one another as a team to work hard and to do the right thing.

Legal accolades recognise Neil Hudgell's role in Post Office Horizon IT scandal

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“I think as a profession it shows how far we have moved on to become socially inclusive. For someone like me who was a first generation university graduate to qualify as a solicitor and then reach the heady heights of where we are now hopefully sends out a really positive message about the industry.”

Launched in 1997, Hudgells specialises in personal injury, medical negligence, criminal injuries, civil liberties, abuse and travel litigation claims, with further expanding offices in Manchester.

Chief executive Rachel Di Clemente said: “We are thrilled with this much deserved recognition for Neil and of course the firm. The judges spoke about how well thought of Neil is in the profession and that is very much the case. He leads the firm from the front and inspires a very talented and dynamic legal team which supports him.”

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