Non-motoring > Post Office IT - Horizon Car Deals
Thread Author: No FM2R Replies: 167

 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
Anybody know much about this?

Reading about it this morning it seems a large number of sub postmasters have been accused and/or tried and/or convicted and/or imprisoned over alleged theft of financial mis management and are now being 'cleared'.

My wonderings being;

Is it being said that they didn't actually do it, or just that their convictions are not safe?

It seems that the Horizon IT System said that there were signifi9cant cash shortages. In order to cause such a perception presumably the system had to say that goods or services had been supplied for which there was no corresponding cash? Pretty simple to disprove I would have thought.

What number of sub postmasters are prosecuted each year? Was this part of a massive increase?

I presume some of you must know rather more about this than I do.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - tyrednemotional
Wiki isn't always the most reliable of sources, but

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Post_Office_scandal

...provides a decent summary.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Private Eye have been covering it for years, since way before the PO ever acknowledged there may be a problem. The PO denied for many years that the system could be faulty then as I recall one of the system engineers said it was flawed.

The PO tried to wriggle out of it on many occasions but in general the courts didn't support them.

Even at a very late stage the PO tried to strike out the whole action by claiming the judge was biased, or something like that.

Here is the Eye's special on it, with lots of detail.

www.private-eye.co.uk/pictures/special_reports/justice-lost-in-the-post.pdf


EDIT: From Paula Vennells wikipedia page

"Paula Anne Vennells, CBE (born 1959), is a British businesswoman and Anglican priest. She was chief executive officer (CEO) of the Post Office Limited from 2012 to 2019. Under her leadership, the Post Office prosecuted hundreds of subpostmasters for fraud, despite knowing that the financial discrepancies were actually arising from computer errors for which her own company was responsible."
Last edited by: smokie on Mon 19 Jul 21 at 15:58
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
>>Here is the Eye's special on it, with lots of detail.
>>
>>www.private-eye.co.uk/pictures/special_reports/justice-lost-in-the-post.pdf

Unbelievable. Utterly shocking. There should be significant repercussions.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
The system was built & run by Fujitsu.
It was not goods that "disappeared" but phantom money.
Post Offices used to receive mountains of cash daily to pay Pensions, family allowance etc etc

e.g
Postmaster receives £20K - enters £20K in cash received - computer hangs and does not show the receipt of £20K so he hits submit again. This time it shows up & he is happy.
What he did not see was that 2 x£20K showed on the Horizon system as being received.

Other failures were back doors - Fujitsu staff with logons could enter the live system and make/delete entries. This should have been banned but they would try things live rather than test systems.

Post Office chased the "debts" Civil courts prosecuted by Post Office lawyers jailed something near 500 people, peple lost their homes, jobs, wives/husbands and did years inside. Fujitsu said the system did not lie, PO prosecutors did not even question why 10% of their sub posties were dishonest.

Cover-up and more prosecutions when the PO Board & CEO knew there were holes and innocent people lost everything.

This has legs and Fujitsu & PO Senior staff could be jailed for knowing the flaws and perjuring themselves as the gave evidence knowing it to be false.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Anybody know much about this?

No personal knowledge but it's a scandalous miscarriage of justice.

Basically the Horizon system was unreliable. The Post Office must have known but refused to acknowledge the fact. Instead people were prosecuted, often jailed and ruined. A number pleaded quilty to less serious offences as they were offered plea bargain type deals.

The Court's judgement on the first tranche of appeals is here:

www.judiciary.uk/judgments/hamilton-others-v-post-office-limited/

In the majority of cases they're evidently honest people caught in a trap. A handful of appellants had their convictions confirmed; they looked like chancing hangers on.

Prior to that there was incredibly bitterly fought Civil Litigation under the generic title Bates and Others v the Post Office. The PO stopped at nothing including trying to get the Judge discharged. He, the judge, was utterly scathing of aspects of the Post Office's evidence.

You could lose a day immersed in the detail.

BBC Radio 4 has a well regarded series of 15 minute programmes:

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m000jf7j
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
It was known in the IT trade that the system was a bag of worms, insider rumours was coming out of Fujitsu for years, and the 100% denial of any possibility that the system could cock up in any was considered implausible given the known poor journaling and crap comms of the system.

Its probably the biggest scandal since we sent convicts to Australia.
Last edited by: Zero on Mon 19 Jul 21 at 16:53
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
>> It was known in the IT trade that the system was a bag of worms,
>> insider rumours was coming out of Fujitsu for years, and the 100% denial of any
>> possibility that the system could cock up in any was considered implausible given the known
>> poor journaling and crap comms of the system.


I worked briefly at ICL, a singularly unimpressive company which seemed to mess up most things that it touched. They always seemed like the British Leyland of computer systems.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
>>always seemed like the British Leyland of computer systems
The difference was nobody was jailed for buying/running a BL car.
Mind you some of the senior management could be jailed for selling, in some cases, dangerous cars - eg First Marinas were lethal in the wet.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero

>> I worked briefly at ICL, a singularly unimpressive company which seemed to mess up most
>> things that it touched. They always seemed like the British Leyland of computer systems.

It was an ICL developed solution
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
Thank you, I'll go through them in detail later.

All somewhat shocking though - prosecuting people for stealing money which wasn't actually missing.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Catching up on my Private Eye reading this afternoon I came across a bit of an update in the 25 June issue.

Boris made a statement that he'd seen "first hand the irreparable impact it has had on their lives" and "we must stand with postmasters to get to the bottom of what went wrong" as the inquiry was put on a statutory basis (hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-05-19/debates/4CF2C689-04D9-40E1-A709-5E8EBD76F11D/PostOfficeUpdate ).

However the Eye says "despite owing this group so much, the inquiry specifically excludes consideration of their settlement". It goes on to say that of the £58m the PO agreed to pay, £46m went in legal and funding costs that the ex-postmasters should never have had to bear, leaving the "and average £20000 and grossly out of pocket given their lost livelihoods (and worse)". (There was at least one whose suicide was suspected of being triggered by being falsely accused.)

I agree this one is far from over.



btw the Lookalike at the bottom of the Eye webpage made me laugh www.private-eye.co.uk/
Last edited by: smokie on Mon 19 Jul 21 at 17:42
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
There were allegations that Fujitsu's IT staff were ordered to make changes to account (transactions) with transactions not entered by the postmasters, effectively falsifying evidence against the postmaster. Denied by PO and Fujitsu.

What is sad is that some postmasters have committed suicide on the back of these cases or have died before justice has been received.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - R.P.
I'm acquainted with one of its victims. He lost everything and went to clink. Decent bloke, now in employment thanks to a local company who know him. Private Eye's coverage was first class, and hopefully had a hand in the subsequent events. I hope the bosses get crucified.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>> I hope the bosses get crucified.
>>

Lying in court that there were no known bugs!

They should be gaoled.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bobby
Back in my Safeway days we had a post office.
Ran the horizon system.

Can’t remember which day of the week our subpostmaster ran the weekly audit, was either Tuesday wed or Thursday but it never ever balanced.

We spent hours on it every week and then would eventually release the account with an overage or shortage. It never balanced.

Many of the “findings” now make sense!
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R

>> www.judiciary.uk/judgments/hamilton-others-v-post-office-limited/

I read the whole thing. Clearly a very thorough job.

But Christ alive, how did something like this happen? Lives have been ruined and in some cases shortened. Each of us gets one life and The Post Office has destroyed many, at best with negligence , but seemingly with intent and disregard for anything other than their own a***s.

Those responsible should be sought and prosecuted. And that includes Paula Vennells the then CEO who was happy to accept the CBE "for services to the Post Office and to charity". If she was happy to be rewarded when it appeared to have gone well, then she should be equally happy to be punished now it has become clear it did not.

It is also inconceivable that a CEO would not be aware and regularly reported to when legal procedures are under way.

Whilst money cannot repay the harm that has been done, these poor people should be heavily compensated and the money, at least partially, should be recovered from those responsible both in the PO and ICL/Fujitsu.

I've never read anything like it. Scandalous.

The names of all the managers, lawyers, directors, investigators, advisors and others involved should be published and they should be dismissed, punished and shamed, just as they did to their victims.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Robin O'Reliant
>> The names of all the managers, lawyers, directors, investigators, advisors and others involved should be published and they should be dismissed, punished and shamed, just as they did to their
>> victims.



Apart from the odd sacrificial lamb as far down the chain as they can get away with, they won't of course, the Post office being part of the Great British Establishment.

A mate of mine runs one of the local post offices, and being an ex merchant banker he is pretty savvy when it comes to finances and he noticed it wasn't right from day 1. Some months he was down and others he was up so he kept a close eye on it in case it started to get out of hand when he'd have pulled the plug. His constant complaints led to the all too familiar "It must be you. no one else is having problems".

If someone had written a novel with the same storyline it would be dismissed as a ridiculous scenario.
Last edited by: VxFan on Tue 20 Jul 21 at 20:03
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Say 1,000 victims - multiply that by family members affected as they were likely to be 99% family businesses - say 3/4 family members per prosecution.

That's 3,000 to 4,000 that have been gravely affected - reputations lost, many jailed, homes sold, families broken up, little chance of employment with a fraud conviction

Possibly the BIGGEST ever Miscarriage of the Law and until fairly recently the PO & Fujitsu denied it was their fault with dodgy software & malicious prosecutions.

They will get a day in court, and barring a few fraudsters, they will recive some compensation BUT the first tranche saw 3/4 of the awards disappear in legal costs. Surely the PO/Fujitsu should pay costs as they were guilty of malicious prosecutions.

 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> They will get a day in court, and barring a few fraudsters, they will recive
>> some compensation BUT the first tranche saw 3/4 of the awards disappear in legal costs.
>> Surely the PO/Fujitsu should pay costs as they were guilty of malicious prosecutions.

I think the cases that cost a lot were the civil action under the title Bates and Ors v Post Office which was settled.

The PO were incredibly aggressive in that case and it's arguable it should be revisited in the light of what's coming out now.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
>>That's 3,000 to 4,000 that have been gravely affected -

To the extreme. Lives have been lost, relationships broken, families damaged, reputations, happiness etc. etc. etc. all because of a rubbish IT project that the management didn't have the decency or the balls to add up to.

The PO should fund a massive PR campaign so that everybody in every village or town knows that these people were innocent and mistreated. It should include details of what did go wrong, what was done wrongly, and it should have the PO logo all over it.

The ex-CEO should lose her CBE. Any bonuses paid in that time to any C**, director, manager or supervisor who was involved in this should be recovered.

Fujitsu should be heavily penalised and the money used for the victims.

All costs should be recovered from the PO & Fujitsu.

And anything else that can be done, should be done.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Rudedog
Sorry if this has been mentioned but wasn't the person in charge at the PO at the time a lady who then became some thing big some where else within Govt or a company (sorry can't remember details), I'm sure after the first over-turns were confirmed she resigned before being pushed??
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Sorry if this has been mentioned but wasn't the person in charge at the PO
>> at the time a lady who then became some thing big some where else within
>> Govt or a company (sorry can't remember details), I'm sure after the first over-turns were
>> confirmed she resigned before being pushed??

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Vennells
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee
I've been following the story for years. The sheer volume of 'fraud' and the numbers of sub-postmasters screaming their innocence needed explanation. There was undoubtedly a cover up, with Fujitsu and the PO saying that the cash shortages couldn't be explained by a software problem at a time when it was known that there were serious problems with Horizon.

It's not accidental or even negligent, it's criminal. Keeping bad news under wraps is one thing, knowingly prosecuting innocent people is another.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Just hit the Beeb - "Sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of offences in a Post Office IT scandal will get interim compensation of up to £100,000, the government has said."

www.bbc.com/news/business-57928397


They must be as afeared of Mark's wrath as the rest of us are :-)
Last edited by: smokie on Thu 22 Jul 21 at 14:43
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
>> "Sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of offences in a Post Office IT scandal will get interim compensation of up to £100,000, the government has said."

I'm sure the dead people will be thrilled. And no doubt those who lost many years of their life, their social standing, their relationships, their retirement, their peace of mind, and their family will be dancing in the streets in joy.

Aside from a great deal more money, a huge amount of reputation rebuilding publicity for each one, and any other help that can be given, I am sure they would like to see the list of Fujitsu and PO that will be going to prison for this. As well as the larger list of people who will be dismissed and the very much smaller list of all those ex-Post Office CEOs who will have their CBEs removed and their bonuses recovered shortly before being removed as an Anglican Priest - on that last my feelings have been made clear to parts of the Sky Fairy's hierarchy in the UK. Now if a bunch of other people could do the same, maybe it'll have some effect.

That's what I would like to see.
Last edited by: No FM2R on Thu 22 Jul 21 at 15:03
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>> Just hit the Beeb - "Sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of offences in a Post Office IT
>> scandal will get interim compensation of up to £100,000, the government has said."
>>


In some of these cases, I doubt £100k will even "touch the sides" of what these people have lost, both in monetary, physical and emotional terms.

 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
>>It's not accidental or even negligent, it's criminal.

Yes it is, and it should be dealt with that way.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - BiggerBadderDave
I heard all of this about 3 or 4 years ago. A devastating story about a lady, Seema Misra, sent down while still pregnant for theft and false accounting or whatever they charged her with.

Not only that but it was her (or possible several others) who was borrowing heavily from banks, family and friends just to get the balances right. The kind of person who would do anything to do the right thing but nevertheless jailed.

Find them, prosecute them and nail them to the wall. I hope the Seema Misras are monumentally well compensated.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Robin O'Reliant
Any spokesperson for the Post Office who comes out with the phrase "Lessons have been learned" should be dropped into a barrel full of starving rats, then kicked senseless if they manage to climb out.

Every week for the rest of their lives.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
I see the Post Office haven't given up completely.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-58170897

I suppose it is conceivable that they believe these are genuine fraud cases but they'll be on the back foot throughout I'd have thought.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
I think the appeals that succeeded were those cases where prosecution had relied on the IT system being accurate.

Those cases which did not, logically, failed since the conviction was deemed to be safe.

You'd have to assume that they are not being stupid in resisting some appeals.
Last edited by: No FM2R on Fri 13 Aug 21 at 03:32
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
I am sure there will be the odd cases where the sub-postmaster was stealing money.

However, there were some 700 people prosecuted - jailed, made bankrupt, divorces, loss of reputation ............. the list is very long and broke down many peoples lives.

The Post Office has so far spent some £160m defending the indefensible - their system was poor, had known holes and knowing this they still prosecuted innocent people for what sometimes were "small amounts".

Would it not be easier and cheaper i.e. less in legal fees, court time and drawing a line - the Government will pay up some £500m - estimates I have seen in articles.

In my mind if a few guilty people get off so what- happens in every court every day.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> I am sure there will be the odd cases where the sub-postmaster was stealing money.

The first tranche of cases in the Court of Criminal Appeal (judgment liked upthread) included a handful that were contested and rejected. There will be more.

One has to assume that a number of genuine fraudsters are trying it on on the coat tails of those genuinely wrongly convicted.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Throw the towel in - pay out everyone and then bring the whole matter to a close.

People have died waiting many years for their innocence to be agreed and compensation paid.
If some thieves escape so what - the 650+ should be the concern of PO & Government - lining the pockets of more lawyers is not important.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
Well they are not going to be able to use Horizon as a source of reliable evidence.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
Seems incredible that no one at the top stopped to think, why have we got so many thieves working for the post office?
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
The Police & Lord Advocate (Chief Legal Officer and head of Prosecution Service) have paid out around £27m in damages for malicious prosecution of 3 people.

Rangers FC went bust
The new Chairman of "Rangers Mark 2" & 2 of the Liquidators were arrested, appeared in court on charges but it never went much further but the saga dragged on for years - damaging the reputations of 3 people. In the last 12 months they have been awarded damages of £27M.

Contrast that with the malicious prosecution by PO lawyers x 700 cases and perjury by witnesses - people bankrupted, jailed, died when there was no fault by the sub-postmaster - much of the "stolen money" never physically existed other than on the Horizon system

PO now admits blame but so far £12m paid out to around 50 people (£45m went on legal fees) only around 650 to go and still the PO drags its feet.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>>PO now admits blame...

It seems far easier to prosecute the "little people" who have limited resources to fight their corner.

I understand that the Post Office actually ran the prosecutions (perhaps our resident legal experts can confirm if I have this right). So it seems they were accuser and prosecutor.

As to the number of prosecutions not ringing alarm bells. I wonder if management at the Post Office thought, wow, Horizon is amazing, it's finding all these frauds that we didn't know about, rather than thinking, oh, there might be a lot of false positives here.

I have had fraud cases with my job at work, where directors of a business clearly manipulate and lie to gain financial advantage. We report each one. There has never been a prosecution on my or my other members of my team's portfolios.

The biggest was a company that clearly defrauded the NHS out of millions. Basically some medicines needed to be "hand made to order". Not particularly complex stuff.

The manufacturer would charge the pharmacy say £1,000 for the medicine. The pharmacy would charge the NHS £1,100. The manufacturer would then refund £900 to the pharmacy who would then pay £500 to the manufacturer (sharing the gain). I.e. the medicine should have cost say £100.

We notified the authorities. Presented the evidence but nothing happened. We immediately recalled all loans and put the manufacturer in to administration. The manufacturing side was purchased by a medicines conglomerate.

(BTW all fraud cases are checked by a team of retired detectives to ensure we have got it right.)
Last edited by: zippy on Fri 13 Aug 21 at 20:28
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Fullchat
"I understand that the Post Office actually ran the prosecutions (perhaps our resident legal experts can confirm if I have this right). So it seems they were accuser and prosecutor."

As I understand it these were private prosecutions which anyone can bring about. As such they bypassed the normal route of investigation and prosecution via the Police and CPS. That's not to say bodies are not capable of investigating and presenting case to the CPS for prosecution.

However bypassing the CPS also bypasses their Full Code Test which is 2 parts - The Evidential Test and the Public Interest Test. This may have raised alarm bells.

Instead they arrogantly ploughed ahead. They were the Victim, Investigator and Prosecutor.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
The post office investigations branch is actually older than most police forces, and by history has had more or less a free hand to operate as investigators and prosecutors aided by this little gem

www.computerweekly.com/news/252495079/IT-scandal-exposes-legal-rule-that-made-it-easy-for-Post-Office-to-prosecute-the-innocent
Last edited by: Zero on Fri 13 Aug 21 at 23:36
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>>The new rule introduced in 1999 followed a Law Commission recommendation for courts to
>>presume that a computer system has operated correctly unless there is explicit evidence to the
>>contrary.

If the logic is wrong you have issues. But the data can also be wrong and lead to "garbage in garbage out".

For years our base rates were wrong for currency loans, only by a few points but an error that compounds.

I produced tables of millions of records showing the errors and where these were in the client's favour we corrected them.

Pull a statement of account from the system before the correction and it would show the client owed far more than they actually did. Under this rule we could have easily sued on this information.

And now I realise why one of our independent rivals has been so successful at claiming against guarantors in court (they use the same system).
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Kevin
>If the logic is wrong you have issues.

There are various reasons why computerised information can be incorrect (remember Pentium FDIV?) but the worrying aspect is the court's presumtion that the computer is fundamentally always right and, even worse, that the defence were not allowed full discovery.
If the victim's lawyers had been able to demand that Fujitsu and the PO provide them with all the helpdesk records, bug reports and version control information I doubt that this case would have even got out of the starting blocks.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Duff & Phelps the company that liquidated Rangers FC Mark 1 and the employer of the 2 liquidators (who got £21m) are looking to sue the Scottish Police & Lord Advocate for the detriment caused to their company's reputation.

D&F are a US company and I would suggest that the smell money.

In a news article I read today, which may or may not be accurate, the 2 liquidators offered to settle for £2m (TWO million) back in 2018.

The Police & Lord Advocate refused the offer & managed to argue their case and then paid out £21m + further costs for the outside legal advice etc on top.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - No FM2R
Aside from being completely confused about the relevance of some Scotch football club, I see no reason why safe convictions should be quashed.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
>>confused about the relevance of some Scotch football club

Malicious prosecution of up to 700 sub postmasters leading to jail, bankruptcy, divorce, loss of reputation over some 15+ years. Only 50 postmasters so far received an average of £200K each and Post Office dragging their feet - so far no prosecutions of PO or Fujitsu staff for perjury.

Malicious prosecution by Police & Prosecution Service of 2 x Rangers liquidators resolved in a few years with £21m damages and £6m for Chairman of Rangers Mk2 for similar malicious charges.

Whilst the ordinary man/woman postmaster is suffering the cavalry rides to 3 people in the upper echelons of accountancy & business.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - tyrednemotional
...but the mud hasn't stuck to "the people at the top" :

www.theguardian.com/media/2021/aug/19/new-bt-chair-left-a-trail-of-wrecked-lives-as-royal-mail-boss
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
The Post Office Scandal is on Panorama tonight 20:00 BBC1. Catch-up services should be available.

It seems that Fujitsu were able to change accounting records remotely, something that was denied by the Post Office at the time.

If I changed a customer's accounts at work I could be charged with computer misuse, potential fraud and if it related to a criminal case, perverting the course of justice. It would be lovely to see similar charges levied that the Post Office.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
The Solicitors Regulation Authority are now a core participant. Professional discipline my get some of them if PCoJ does not:

www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/sra-granted-access-to-more-post-office-documents/5112289.article?

 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Knowing & admitting the holes in the Horizon system has a long way to go - 2010 internal lawyers knowing the prosecutions were based on dodgy evidence they ploughed on for another 4+ years at a rate of 1 per week! The "Fujitsu experts" in court said the system was solid and reliable.

What the did not say was Fujitsu had "back door access" to each & every sub Post Office accounts - they could, and did, enter or delete data without the permission / knowledge of the Postmaster.

According to Panorama they ploughed on as there was a need /desire to sell off the PO. The Horizon system was losing £1m / week in the processing - not necessarily "real money" as the software was so unreliable.

Paula Vennels the CEO & other Senior people knew of the holes and just carried on - hoping matters would improve for them. The internal PO investigation group setup a forensic investigation, from External Accountants, into individual post offices where there had been prosecutions. Just before the forensic accountants were due to published their findings the PO working group cancelled the contract. The findings were known but never revealed.

This has a long way to run for the PO & the Government - up to £1Billion in damages for false imprisonment, breakdown of families, families homeless, divorce, suicides, bankruptcies might not be enough. Malicious prosecutions and jailing of people when the PO & Fujitsu knew the failures of Horizon will increase the damages claims dramatically.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
The sad thing is that Private Eye were on the case many years before anything reached the mainstream, and IMO it was their dogged investigation and regular reporting on it which uncovered the scandal, but still nothing was done for many years, and the Post Office continued to persecute staff knowing full well that their systems were suspect.

Wikipedia says "In March 2015, Private Eye magazine and other sources reported that Post Office Ltd had ordered Second Sight to end their investigation just one day before the report was due to be published, and to destroy all the paperwork which they had not handed over. Post Office Ltd then scuppered the independent committee set up to oversee the investigation, as well as the mediation scheme for SPMs, and published a report which cleared themselves of any wrongdoing. Of the 136 cases, 56 had been closed, and Post Office Ltd would put the rest forward for "mediation" unless a court ruling prevented them from doing so. After ending the inquiry, Post Office Ltd said that there were no wide-scale problems, and that "This has been an exhaustive and informative process that has confirmed that there are no system-wide problems with our computer system and associated processes. We will now look to resolve the final outstanding cases as quickly as possible."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Post_Office_scandal

The Post Office acted disgustingly and Paula Vennells and other senior execs should be in court over the way this was handled. They apparently have at least one suicide on their hands.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - henry k
What a mess. I hope senior heads roll.

I first had to deal, as an internal customer, with a poorly designed and implemented stores system back in the early 1960s. Management were frightened to challenge the new wizards with computers.

I changed companies and in the mid 1960s became a computer programmer on large commercial "real time" machines .
I discovered that the machine did not execute some of the instructions I had programmed.
Thereafter I was always wary on possible errors.
Several years later we found a sequence of events that caused a non critical back up glitch.
A week before we closed the machine down I with my team spent a week investigating a strange list of "new" data reports from rehearsal runs. Just in time we widened our investigation and discovered that at the time of the data run the mainframe was swapped as it was found to be faulty.

As we should all know it is so difficult to test properly so I am always wary of " the computer is always right"

 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee
If Vennells and any other board members knew, or should have known, that they were prosecuting innocent people than they should be in prison. The same goes for the management of Fujitsu.

I've been reading about this in Private Eye for years. Something like 800 sub-postmasters didn't suddenly decide to start stealing tens of thousands of pounds.

Incredibly this is still on a Fujitsu website

www.fujitsu.com/downloads/SVC/fs/casestudies/uk-postoffice2.pdf

 Horizon - bathtub tom
What about the (current) elephant in the room, PO/Fujitsu Horizon?

Was it a case of users making simple mistakes, or a corporate negligence? A large proportion of users seem to be affected, but not all the 11K sub Post offices?
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:27
 Horizon - Zero
All of us in the IT game new that Horizon was a pile of excrement at a very early age, much gossip in the trade from role out phase. It happens in any IT project, what doesent happen is a refusal to accept issues and make end users pay for it, and then obfuscate the facts to try and cover it up. Thats the real crime, not the IT.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:27
 Horizon - zippy
>>Horizon...

I read somewhere that Fujitsu were liable for coding errors to the extent that there were penalty clauses for bugs etc.

So they denied they existed and were the cause for many of the adjustments made to the sub - postmasters accounts remotely - something they denied time after time that they did not have the capability of doing.

They were even able to log on using the sub-postmasters credentials - so no trace of their changes existed.

Despite its flaws, our system records transactions with user details for each transaction along with the PC name. "Key strokes" are also recorded to a separate database and the two can be compared.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - bathtub tom
Just a thought. Around 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted, but there's around eleven thousand sub post offices. Was everyone affected, or was it just a minority?
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - zippy
>> Just a thought. Around 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted, but there's around eleven thousand sub post
>> offices. Was everyone affected, or was it just a minority?
>>

I think there were more "shortfalls" that were repaid by sub-postmasters, often taking out large loans or re-mortgaging and some becoming bankrupt or having to sell homes.

I spoke to one of Mrs Z's best friends who worked for Post Office Counters Ltd, actually on the counter in a main post office and helping out on a few smaller post offices.

The friend says that there were differences at the main post offices as well but they were just put in suspense accounts.

Thinking back on it, we had a corner-shop post office, newsagent, mini-supermarket thing about 15 minutes walk from our previous house. It closed in about 2004 and the owners looked "exhausted" and Tesco moved in. I wonder if the previous owners became a victim of Horizon?
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Just a thought. Around 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted, but there's around eleven thousand sub post
>> offices. Was everyone affected, or was it just a minority?

As Zippy says others were not prosecuted but made good losses and were potentially ruined financially by doing so. The Guardian's newsletter this morning says a further 100 or so people have come forward to one of the lawyers acting for SPMs since the matter was brought into focus by the ITV drama last week.

I wonder how effective the current focus will be or whether the whole business will sink back into the apparent torpor it was in since the Bates case was settled and the first few acquittals happened.

Lee Anderson, red waller and Tory Party deputy chair, is saying the responsibility for the entire saga lies with Ed Davey who was Minister for Posts in the early days of the coalition. Apperently he's the only one who held that office and is still an MP.

Somebody else this morning was asking why the Director of Public Prosecutions didn't step in when the Post Office was abusing it's powers so egregiously. DPP at the time of course was Keir Starmer - hopefully nobody is seriously trying to tar him over it. Unlike where you or I start a Private Prosecution and the DPP can step in I don't think there's any such opportunity where bodies like the PO, DWP or the Revenue Departments use their statutory powers to prosecute.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - Fullchat
Not forgetting current East Hull MP and Solicitor, Karl Turner (replaced John Prescott) who advised Janet Skinner, who despite denying she ever did anything wrong, to plead guilty to false accounting so the theft charge would be dropped.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Not forgetting current East Hull MP and Solicitor, Karl Turner (replaced John Prescott) who advised
>> Janet Skinner, who despite denying she ever did anything wrong, to plead guilty to false
>> accounting so the theft charge would be dropped.

He was not alone in saying that and would arguably be derelict in his professional duty to give any other advice.

The evidence against the defendant was, as it seemed then, overwhelming. The jury are going to be 'so sure that they are certain', and find Ms Skinner or any other SPM guilty of theft. Gaol time guaranteed.

Plead guilty to the lesser offence and with a discount for plea and a following wind you'll be on a suspended sentence. One or two did that and went to gaol anyway.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:31
 Horizon - smokie
This special Private Eye report from 2020 consolidated a lot of the info they'd published over the previous 7 or more years and contains some interesting info.

www.private-eye.co.uk/pictures/special_reports/justice-lost-in-the-post.pdf

Shame it's taken quite so long to catch the public eye!!
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
Thanks for that smokie, next on my reading list.

I've just pulled up the Court of Appeal's decision where most of the defendants, including Janet Skinner referenced by Fullchat, were acquitted. It's clear there that she was not alone in being acquitted notwithstanding a guilty plea. I'm pretty sure the PO's legal people were well aware that defendant's lawyers would tell them to accept the 'lesser charge' thing and used it to (their) full advantage.

www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Hamilton-Others-v-Post-Office-judgment-230421.pdf
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:28
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
Latest news is that former PO CEO Paula Vennels has surrendered her CBE.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Kevin
I saw part of an interview with Anderson about the PO saga on YT and he didn't say that Davey was responsible for the saga. He said that Davey refused to meet the postmaster's reps when it became apparent that something was seriously wrong yet he's now claiming that he was misled and blocked from meeting them.

Nowt to do with me mate, I'm was only the minister in charge.

It's perfectly understandable (at least to me) why anyone and everyone involved in this on the PO side is going to be under the spotlight and I seriously hope that there will be jail sentences when it's run it's course.

What I don't understand is the mindset of Fujitsu and PO top brass to take this action and why the day to day support folks didn't kick up a fuss when they twigged what was happening.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Nowt to do with me mate, I'm was only the minister in charge.

Isn't there a Sir Humphrey Appleby phrase along the lines of 'would that be wise Minister'?

Rory Stewart wasn't over popular for his habit of ignoring Civil Service advice.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Bank IT Systems - Zero
>> Just a thought. Around 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted, but there's around eleven thousand sub post
>> offices. Was everyone affected, or was it just a minority?

and therein lies the irony. If every sub post office was affected, the problem would have been flagged earlier, a defined defect would be logged, and Fujitsu / Post office would not be able to obfuscate and enter a phase of denial. In short the scandal wouldn't have happened.
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> and therein lies the irony. If every sub post office was affected, the problem would
>> have been flagged earlier, a defined defect would be logged, and Fujitsu / Post office
>> would not be able to obfuscate and enter a phase of denial. In short the
>> scandal wouldn't have happened.

Not sure I share your confidence there. The Private Eye link supplied by smokie and, if you've the time and persistence a read of the Bates judgements, suggest that the PO and Fujitsu knew full well what was going on but were determined to keep it under wraps.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - CGNorwich
Just a thought. Around 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted, but there's around eleven thousand sub post
>> offices. Was everyone affected, or was it just a minority?

Part of the problem I suspect is that embezzlement by sub-postmasters was far from unknown problem even in the days of manual accounting. Indeed the new system was no doubt seen as away to combat such fraud. The fact that the new system apparently confirmed such theft on a massive scale merely confirmed management suspicions with no one prepared to look deeper.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Bobby
Any IT gurus able to provide insight into what the Horizon system was?

I remember seeing it in action in my Safeway Post Office but, in modern day terms, you would just Class it as an EPOS system ie every transaction you did over the counter was keyed into the system.

So a glorified till which obviously had a back office reporting type system attached to it.

So what was the system actually doing wrong?
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
EPOS is, I think, the acronym used in the judgements in the Bates case and what you saw at Safeway was exactly that; a till with back office reporting functions.

The piece from Private Eye in smokie's post contains a potted history.

Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
Missed edit.

In short it was bug ridden carp.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Zero
>> EPOS is, I think, the acronym used in the judgements in the Bates case and
>> what you saw at Safeway was exactly that; a till with back office reporting functions.

Kind of but not really. It was a kind of hybrid retail banking/EPOS solution. Made worse by the choice half way through development to add DHSS payment function, a requirement later dropped I believe. The banking aspect adds much higher levels of security and journaling than that required by retail solutions. The bespoke/hybrid solution is one of the reasons for its flakiness. EPOS is and was at the time, a pretty well developed and stable platform.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:29
 Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Made worse by the choice half way through development to add DHSS payment function, a requirement
>> later dropped I believe.

As I read it the original intention was for a DHSS payment function to replace Giro cheques and order books with a card so benefits would be paid through the Post Office.

That was abandoned after spending millions and the functions that caused all the problems were, as it were, raked from the ashes.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - Terry
That the software may have been very flaky is incompetent not criminal. Disgraceful is that governance that should have been in place to identify and correct inadequacies was either completely deficient or deliberately ignored.

Those responsible for allowing so many to have suffered significant long term personal consequences need to be identified.

Appropriate punishment should follow - the "offence" may be incompetence or complacency. At the other extreme knowingly concealing or failing to act when the facts were clearly evident.

Senior officials and politicians should face the most severe sanctions - irrespective of their current positions and political pressures. Sadly I suspect those most likely to be complicit will have already destroyed much of the evidence.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - Zero
Ooooo Look what I found

www.fujitsu.com/downloads/SVC/fs/casestudies/uk-postoffice2.pdf
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - Biggles
Knowingly concealing might not be too far removed from the truth.
www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-67921974
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - zippy
The part of the bank that I work in deals with a specialist set of products.

One rival has been accused of deliberately placing businesses in to administration where they got an alleged significant kick back from the administrators and were allowed, in their contracts with their customers, to charge "emergency" fees.

All they needed to do was provide a statement of account provided by their computer system at court to prove indebtedness with no back ground calculations. They could add whatever transactions they wanted to the statement before printing it off as the court would assume the "computer was correct".

Given the recent news re the reliance on computers, one might hope that some of that banks cases are reviewed.

BTW, we could do the same, but there is good segregation of duties - account managers or directors don't have permission to post transactions and we have reputational risk to worry about.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - smokie
I just recalled a previous thread on the PO scandal, it's here

www.car4play.com/forum/post/index.htm?t=29150&v=f

But to unpick it from this thread and move it to that would be a days work!!
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - Kevin
This morning's papers reporting that the Chief Software Architect for Horizon has been asking for immunity before he will answer any questions and that the PO timed the release of thousands of documents to delay proceedings.
Also, that some of the prosecutions were actually brought by the CPS when Starmer was DPP.

I don't think the fan has been turned up to full yet.

Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - Zero
>> But to unpick it from this thread and move it to that would be a
>> days work!!

you are the only person that has that problem.
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:30
 Horizon - smokie
Actually turned out to be easy :-)
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 09:31
 Horizon - zippy
>> Actually turned out to be easy :-)
>>

Not like fixing Horizon then! :-)
 Horizon - tyrednemotional
... just wait till someone spots missing posts ..;-)
 Horizon - Zero
H'es stamping his authority on it.
 Horizon - tyrednemotional
...the BBC rolling story on this currently (14:48) contains the text:

"Lord Ken Macdonald, who was head the Crown Persecution Service from 2003-08, says it's "unprecedented" for the government to overturn the convictions of the victims of the Post Office scandal."

Wonder how long that'll be there before they fix it?
 Horizon - CGNorwich
Spelling error aside he is of course correct when he says that the worries how the blanket overturning of convictions - done for the "best of reasons" in this case - will be used as a precedent for other cases in the future. "Once the dam is burst", it's unclear what process may be used in the future, he says.

The overruling of the judiciary by Acts of Parliament may well have unintended consequences.
Last edited by: CGNorwich on Wed 10 Jan 24 at 15:34
 Horizon - Zero
>> Spelling error aside he is of course correct when he says that the worries how
>> the blanket overturning of convictions - done for the "best of reasons" in this case
>> - will be used as a precedent for other cases in the future. "Once the
>> dam is burst", it's unclear what process may be used in the future, he says.
>>
>> The overruling of the judiciary by Acts of Parliament may well have unintended consequences.

There is a way round this, convictions were sought by the post office under their ancient prosecutorial powers, not the CPS. Declare those powers legally flawed and convictions unsafe. Post office should have those pwers withdrawn, and if they wish to represent cases its the CPS role.

 Horizon - Kevin
That won't cover the 11 cases and 3 convictions resulting from CPS prosecutions.

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/post-office-scandal-keir-starmer-b2476524.html
 Horizon - CGNorwich
That would result it anybody who has ever been prosecuted by the P.O having their convictions declared unsafe, not just the cases in question in the current scandal.
 Horizon - Zero
And frankly probably a good idea. The way they withheld evidence means they were unfit for that role
 Horizon - sooty123
This came up on the news, the general consensus seemed it was so exceptional that it wasn't an issue. The gov had been to various judges this week, they were in support of the gov.

At the current rate it would take 70 years to clear the postmasters. Is that an option?
 Horizon - bathtub tom
Strange, isn't it, that the government should be seen to be keen to unpick a problem that's been around for twenty years.

OH! Is it an election year?
 Horizon - Zero
The irony is of course, that the post office is becoming very much an irrelevance as an organisation/operation, and in 20 years time probably won't exist.
 Horizon - smokie
I can't see postal/parcel services continuing but I think they are trying to step in to fill the spot left by the departure of high street banks, and that may become their niche at least while cash still exists.

Though the queues at our local ones around Christmas were enough to put me off!!
Last edited by: smokie on Thu 11 Jan 24 at 11:19
 Horizon - Manatee
We need the post offices now there are no banks.
 Horizon - Zero
If we did the banks wouldn't have closed nor the post office sub post office numbers cut. Stuff exists to meet demand. And "what about the old folks" argument don't cut it either, I am 70 and I don't.
 Horizon - smokie
While cash is still in use shops and businesses need somewhere to bank and change cash.

It's not all about you and what you need :-)
 Horizon - Zero
As I said, if there was a need, for anyone, it would still exist
 Horizon - Zero
>> While cash is still in use shops and businesses need somewhere to bank and change
>> cash.

17% of retail transaction are now in cash. And falling. Cash transactions cost anywhere between 4.7-15.3 percent of the value of the cash. The average credit card processing fee ranges between 1.5% and 3.5%.

Tell me we will still need cash handling facilities in 5, 10, 20 years time?
 Horizon - zippy
>>Cash....

I don't dispute your figures Zero, but I hope you are wrong, but suspect that you are correct.

(Even the Sally Army were using contactless devices to collect from debit / credit cards at the supermarket at Xmas and when I popped some change in the bucket, someone passing commented - how quaint!)

I work in banking, as you know, and can see how easy it is for an individual to be denied any banking services whatsoever, by action of just one bank - an incorrectly placed CIFAS marker can stop someone getting a new bank account, credit card, debit card, car insurance, home insurance etc. Without access to cash where would they be?

I like handing a tip to my waiter in restaurants, again cash. I don't add tips to devices.

Make it all electronic and it would be so easy for the state to act against individuals and to shut them out totally - as well as un-warranted intrusion - all your spending history would be potentially available to officials who "wanted to know".
Last edited by: zippy on Thu 11 Jan 24 at 16:21
 Horizon - CGNorwich
And how would drug dealers make a living without cash?
 Horizon - Zero
How about a BACS transfer for your van load of catalytic converters?
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
www.itv.com/news/2024-01-11/fujitsu-could-have-to-repay-fortune-spent-on-horizon-scandal-chalk-says

Looks like £1 billion will be set aside for compensation.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - the 550 - zippy
As I understand it....

The 550 that went to court and got compensation from the Post Office, much of which was eaten up by legal fees, will not be entitled to further compensation as the Post Office considers that their payment was in full and final settlement.

Please tell me that I have this wrong.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - the 550 - bathtub tom
>> The 550 that went to court and got compensation from the Post Office, much of
>> which was eaten up by legal fees, will not be entitled to further compensation as
>> the Post Office considers that their payment was in full and final settlement.
>> Please tell me that I have this wrong.

I understood those that were paid compensation, gave them the ability to get their convictions overturned, thus able to claim further compo.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry
AFAIK - sub postmasters have a contract with the Post Office
AFAIK - the Post Office has a contract with Fujitsu

As sub-postmasters have no contractual relationship with F and F have no control over the decision taken by the PO to prosecute sub-postmasters, I don't think Fujitsu are directly liable.

The PO may have a claim on F if they can prove that F failed to deliver that which was contracted or in some way manipulated live data or systems.

IMHO the PO were at the very least incompetent in their management of the F contract, may likely have been negligent, and quite possibly corrupt in covering up failings they were aware of in F systems to avoid the public embarrassment of an expensive failure.

Its the cover up that get them in the end!!
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich
Not going to work for the ladies of the night. Don’t think they do contactless ( at least so I’ve heard).
 Post Office IT - Horizon - BiggerBadderDave
They take credit cards in Prague. Well, the madams do.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Robin O'Reliant
I've heard a rumour the Diane Abbot was the person leading the Horizon software development team.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Robin O'Reliant
The stuff is starting to really hit the fan. There must be a few worried people right at the top of the Post Office and in government -

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-68079300
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry
One can only hope for swift and appropriate action for those who knowingly allowed prosecutions to proceed in the knowledge that the were potentially flawed.

Write to you MP. Tell them precisely what you as a constituent expect - unambiguous and active support or they will not get your vote. Although in this country we rightly separate the judiciary from politics, the Home Secretary is ultimately accountable for the police.

The political elite (both parties) prevaricate, delay and obfuscate.. Demonstrating they can act swiftly, honestly and decisively should be critical to their public support.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
news.sky.com/story/post-office-chairman-to-leave-amid-row-with-government-13057745

Top boss gone.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
Scapegoat,
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Scapegoat,

A scalp to help Kemi Badenoch's political career, or so she hopes.
Last edited by: Bromptonaut on Sat 27 Jan 24 at 22:34
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Lygonos

>>A scalp to help Kemi Badenoch's political career, or so she hopes.

I suspect being a vile scumbag, she is using Parliamentary privilege to defame the Scapegoat.

Will be interesting to see her repeat what she said in HoC outside.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-68337728
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry
She may be right - there is all but zero evidence of any redeeming PO behaviours or actions.

Although in office for a limited period, the defensive denial culture continues to pervade PO - denying those wronged proper compensation, and holding to account those responsible.

That political pressure had been applied to delay payment seems implausible (but not impossible).

The money is relatively trivial, will need to be paid at some point, and there are probably more political brownie points in resolving Horizon than letting it drag on into the election period.

BTW - no great fan of Kemi, but in this case she may have done the right thing!!
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Alan Bates lost his business & £60K over 20 years ago.
His solicitors employed accountants who estimate claims using Court Guidance.

For losing his livelihood, 20 years unpaid work exposing the PO prosecuting & jailing postmasters he was offered 1/6th of the claim.

The Government promised £600K for postmasters who had their lives ruined - the PO are still dragging their feet on paying "fair compensation".

Meanwhile many innocent post masters are living in poverty & some dying before their names are cleared
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
I have no sympathy with the PO over this whole affair but I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for claims to be properly scrutinised, which will take some time.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
>> I have no sympathy with the PO over this whole affair but I don't think
>> it's entirely unreasonable for claims to be properly scrutinised, which will take some time.
>>

I think they've had long enough.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee

>>
>> I think they've had long enough.


I think you're right. The proof the PO brought at the time, basically that Horizon couldn't lie, has been refuted, disproved, blown out of the water AND the PO knew it was lying at the time in most cases.

There's also the issue of double jeopardy.

All they should be looking at in most cases is the value of the harm done and what punitive damages should be added. And then they should jail the people who knowingly signed off on lies. Including government ministers if they were complicit.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> I have no sympathy with the PO over this whole affair but I don't think
>> it's entirely unreasonable for claims to be properly scrutinised, which will take some time.

If new claims emerge from people whose previous history has not been properly scrutinised then sure, they need looking at in proper detail.

On the other hand plenty of them have been through the courts and subject to any number of examination etc. processes.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
I think the Post Office, as an organisation, is finished and will cease to exist within the next ten years. It has no USP, no real need to exist as a service in todays society. It merely exists as a left over corpse after the years of its constituent limbs being split off.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry
>> I have no sympathy with the PO over this whole affair but I don't think
>> it's entirely unreasonable for claims to be properly scrutinised, which will take some time.
>>

I think a decade or more should be plenty long enough even for the most diligent scrutiny. It is just incompetence, dishonesty, denial or a mix of all three.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Bear in mind they hadn't accepted any responsibility for the problems until relatively recently, which is really when the compo clock would start ticking, not while they were still in denial.

Also I think I read somewhere that over 30% of cases have actually been withdrawn or rejected - also that there have always been dishonest postmasters so you can't just go and payout willy nilly.

I also recall reading (was it here maybe?) that the normal process for overturning convictions etc is fairly cumbersome and there simply isn't enough spare court time/officials/whatever available to just process them all right away.

It is shocking that the management don't even appear to be under any threat of charges - but then I expect there is a lot going on which we aren't party to.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
>> Bear in mind they hadn't accepted any responsibility for the problems until relatively recently, which
>> is really when the compo clock would start ticking, not while they were still in
>> denial.

Denial? Is that the same as knowing internally but public denial? ie withholding evidence?
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Yes that's what I meant.

So they wouldn't start working out the compensation etc at that point would they? Only now, when the inquiry has drawn out the details and the general public is in uproar about it does the calculation of who is due what starts. (I feel I'm repeating myself!)

I'm not saying it's right, I'm just trying to offer explanations as to why they can't just settle everything pronto, as suggested by an earlier poster.



Just wait till the Teesside scandal hits the news. It's been running a couple of years already in real life and in Private Eye and just gets worse... Not directly affecting members of the public in the same way as the PO but it smells of quite massive corruption to me, and must be costing the ratepayers/taxpayers millions in lost revenue. And Ben Houchen was made a peer by Boris!! Another Tory shocker... :-)
Last edited by: smokie on Tue 20 Feb 24 at 21:05
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123

>> I'm not saying it's right, I'm just trying to offer explanations as to why they
>> can't just settle everything pronto, as suggested by an earlier poster.


That's the line from the PO. The ex postmasters tell a different story.

>>
>> Just wait till the Teesside scandal hits the news. It's been running a couple of
>> years already in real life

Not heard about that one.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Yes that's what I meant.
>>
>> So they wouldn't start working out the compensation etc at that point would they? Only
>> now, when the inquiry has drawn out the details and the general public is in
>> uproar about it does the calculation of who is due what starts. (I feel I'm
>> repeating myself!)

Compensation to individuals who lost money, their businesses and in the case of those convicted their reputation is calculated under reasonably well established principles. In so far an money etc can do so they should be put back where they would have been had this not happened.

I'm not sure why the inquiry which, is progressing through its various modules, is going to help much. It's about who and how rather than the amounts.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee
I'm sure there have always been dishonest subpostmasters but this was an epidemic.

If anybody had looked at Harold Shipman's statistics he would have been caught years earlier. He was the common factor.

The common factors here were Horizon, the cover up, and the incompetent adjustments made by superusers sometimes with the users' credentials! There was no precedent for the amount of theft supposedly going on.

The PO knew there had been a big increase in the number and size of apparent defalcations. Instead of diligently following up on that in the knowledge that many SPMs with long service and good character were challenging the integrity of the Horizon system with similar experiences, the PO congratulated itself on identifying a level of theft that they assumed they had hitherto been unaware of.

Anybody who works in finance knows you have to investigate how a difference arises before it's assumed to be a cash error or theft and written off. At least to the point where you know the books are correct.

This is done by ticking off transactions and adding them up. This is called detailed auditing when it takes place in the absence of a known problem. EY as the PO auditors never did this, as is common with large companies they took the figures from the accounting system.

To what extent they identified the problems by sampling I don't know. I do know that the management letter following the 2011 audit did warn the PO of the lack of control over superusers and the wholly inadequate change control process of Fujitsu. It has been stated I think that there was never a system audit.

The PO had no more idea how the errors arose than the innocent SPMs did and theft was simply an assumption. There was no real evidence other than the assertion that Horizon was accurate and therefore the responsible human was the problem.

The evidence, incidentally, that Horizon was a good system was essentially that the debits and credits materially balanced at the global level - it was acknowledged that there were glitches but this 'balancing' was good enough for the PO and apparently its auditors. I do not know what the PO considered materiality to be. Did nobody ever go and tick off a few days work to see if the branch cash totals really were correct? Unbelievable.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
PO Revenues approx £1Bn / year
an error of 1% is £10m
an error of 2% is £20m

The losses the PO claim from SPM was normally in the 10s of thousands - chicken feed.

Last week a company director was jailed for fraud on Royal Mail for £70m+
 Post Office IT - Horizon - bathtub tom
There seems to be another PO problem with, allegedly, fraudulent stamps. This was raised on a local radio consumer program. Customers are buying stamps over-the-counter and recipients are being asked to cough up five quid excess charge, as the stamp is fraudulent. As soon as it was mentioned, a number of calls came in from other listeners who had the same problem.

I've got the popcorn!
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>>Fraudulent stamps...

Are the stamps issued by the Royal Mail?

Looking at the small code strip (bar-code / QR-code thing) and the speed these are scanned at, I wouldn't be surprised if there were scanning errors or even printing errors at the printers.

It's a bit worrying if fake stamps are getting to post offices and other retailers.

I hope it's not posties being crooked and claiming a fake stamp to obtain a few extra quid.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich
Much more likely the sender tried to re-use stamps in the mistaken belief that since they no longer visibly frank stamps it cannot be detected. Of course stamps are now cancelled eletronically.

On being questioned they of course state that they bought the stamp at the post office or supermarket.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sherlock47
Much more likely the sender tried to re-use stamps in the mistaken belief that since they no longer visibly frank stamps


I listened to the original radio phone in, the first person who called in had the stamps purchased from and affixed by the PO counter clerk, (without actually being handed the stamps).

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0h7cq3g

initial call at 9 minutes, other callers at 33minutes
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
>> There seems to be another PO problem with, allegedly, fraudulent stamps. This was raised on
>> a local radio consumer program. Customers are buying stamps over-the-counter and recipients are being asked
>> to cough up five quid excess charge, as the stamp is fraudulent.

This is not related to the post office in anyway. This is a Royal Mail problem, a different company. The majority of stamps sold are now not sold through post offices.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sherlock47
In this case the stamps were supplied and affixed by a Post Office counter clerk.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich
>> In this case the stamps were supplied and affixed by a Post Office counter clerk.
>>

Allegedly,
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee
Maybe materiality for the PO in accounting terms started at £100k - £1m. Anything under that would not affect the finances and could be assumed to be to do with timing differences etc. Maybe it was 'only' £100k. either of those sums of course is material to a typical SPM.

Neither does a near total balance give much of a clue to the size of the errors when there are compensating ones. That's why they have to be found, not just put down to human error/theft. The whole thing is beyond comprehension.

The system was known to be riddled with bugs at launch.

Mildly informative article

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/09/how-the-post-offices-horizon-system-failed-a-technical-breakdown
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
Fake stamps, counterfeits if you like, are a known issue.

As above, these days relatively few are issued by Post Offices and where they are the PO sells them as an agent for Royal Mail. Stock etc held for others like that, as well as Lottery, TAx Discs etc was one of the complicating issues for Horizon.

Lots of small village stores shops, not Sub POst Offices, sell them as a convenience offer with cards etc. The store operator may be crooked, or perhaps on of his counter staff. Or he could be sold them by a supplier who is crooked or has holes in his systems.

We're now actively discouraged from buying stamps for the odd item we need to post out to clients or DWP. There's a system we can log into that gives us a unique reference number and charges the charity directly. We jut put the items in a tray/box at the PO - like there used to be for Franked Mail.

Not used it yet as our village PO, hosted by the pharmacy, closed at the end of last year.

New set up opens at the village shop some time next month.
Last edited by: Bromptonaut on Thu 22 Feb 24 at 11:46
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich
Anyone can of course now buy their postage on line. No need to buy stamps or visit a post office at all. They will even collect the item from you.

send.royalmail.com
Last edited by: CGNorwich on Thu 22 Feb 24 at 12:01
 Post Office IT - Horizon - tyrednemotional
...given the latest developments (The business & trade committee today asking for urgent full sight of the 80-page report into the Chief Exec's conduct (not the dismissed Chairman)) it seems there's just a chance Ms Badenoch may have shot the wrong fox.

Whatever, it adds a bit more credibility to Staunton's account, and Kemi appears to suddenly have gone invisible.

If indeed Staunton is largely blameless, parliamentary privilege will protect her, but I doubt the comments would be discounted in any action for wrongful dismissal.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Announced today
By July the Government intends to have passed the legislation to erase the convictions of postmasters who were found guilty of fraud due to Horizon faults in the period of 1999 onwards. There are some cases prior to 1999 in Pilot sites - they will also qualify.

This applies to E&W only although it is expected to be followed by Scotland & NI - different laws apply here.

Concerns abounded around the fact that some fraudsters will get a pardon & money but this is the only way to get the decks cleared for the thousands affected - some have already died & others are now much older and living in poverty as they lost their business, were bankrupted, jailed, divorced etc etc
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Robin O'Reliant
>>
>>
>> Concerns abounded around the fact that some fraudsters will get a pardon & money
>>
>>
>>

And good luck to them too. The Post Office have been so criminally corrupt and incompetent for the twenty plus years this scandal has been allowed to fester they deserve everything they are going to get and a lot more besides.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich

>>
>> And good luck to them too. The Post Office have been so criminally corrupt and
>> incompetent for the twenty plus years this scandal has been allowed to fester they deserve
>> everything they are going to get and a lot more besides.
>>

Are you actually saying that you applaud the payment of large sums of money to those postmasters who did actually commit fraud?

Statistically there must have been a significant number of genuine fraudsters convicted. Fraud has always been present in the Post Office and indeed the reduction of such fraud was one of the reasons why the new computer system was introduced. A local postmaster here was jailed in the mid eighties for fraud.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - tyrednemotional
...and those that actually did commit fraud would have been adding to the weight of opinion in the PO management that there was a considerably wider issue.

Even now, it would appear that PO management is of the view that a significant number of the prosecutions were "safe", being additionally supported by non-Horizon evidence.

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/feb/22/post-office-said-last-month-it-stands-by-most-horizon-convictions

I think, given the furore about what happened, and the logistical difficulties of treating each case individually, that the mass exoneration is probably the most appropriate way forward, (certainly the quickest/easiest) but it will undoubtedly exonerate and compensate some who were guilty, and I certainly wouldn't rejoice about that.

Prior to Horizon, there were thousands of discrepancies each month, and a good number of those were pursued as embezzlement.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>>Even now, it would appear that PO management is of the view that a significant number of the >>prosecutions were "safe", being additionally supported by non-Horizon evidence.

Just shows how arrogant they are.

The Horizon system was faulty. It recorded transactions incorrectly, some of the known bugs included not getting the "signs" right - i.e. negative amounts posted when positive amounts should have been posted, and they still have the gall to say that they were right.

 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
>> >>Even now, it would appear that PO management is of the view that a significant
>> number of the >>prosecutions were "safe", being additionally supported by non-Horizon evidence.
>>
>> Just shows how arrogant they are.

Probably a number of them were safe convictions. But once you go round deliberately withholding evidence, you have lost the moral authority to justify them. The irony is that if they had embraced the fact changes to journaling were made, kept a record of them, they could have been used to debunk a PM's defence that the system caused the shortfall.
Last edited by: Zero on Fri 23 Feb 24 at 12:13
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Manatee
Unless there was other evidence - CCTV, witnesses, evidence of villas in Spain with no corresponding explanation for where the money came from, then there can have been few if any "safe" convictions.

The trigger for and evidence of practically all such prosecutions generally speaking is that there are false entries or black holes in the accounts. Horizon created both of those things.

The best one can say is that some embezzlers were "accidentally" included. A forensic re-examination of every case would not necessarily separate the sheep from the goats.

The more competent embezzlers might even have got away with it as a consequence of Horizon's failings, e.g. by pocketing spurious "overs" it created.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry

>> Statistically there must have been a significant number of genuine fraudsters convicted. Fraud has always
>> been present in the Post Office and indeed the reduction of such fraud was one
>> of the reasons why the new computer system was introduced. A local postmaster here was
>> jailed in the mid eighties for fraud.

I am sure that amongst the group "pardon" there will have been some who were actually guilty.

It is unclear is how many of these would likely be included in the ~900 cases - but I suspect a small minority. Those wrongly convicted have waited an intolerable length of time for justice.

Absolution of the genuinely guilty is a price justified by swift resolution for those wrongly convicted .
 Post Office IT - Horizon - CGNorwich
Possibly but a pardon that effectively says “we know some of you were innocent and some of you were guilty but we don’t know which are which so we will pardon the lot of you” doe not really clear the names of the innocent.o
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
>> Possibly but a pardon that effectively says “we know some of you were innocent and
>> some of you were guilty but we don’t know which are which so we will
>> pardon the lot of you” doe not really clear the names of the innocent.o
>>

I don't see any better options, there could be an analysis case by case, but by the time it'd been through the legal hoops most would be dead. Or a blanket ban both have downsides.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Long standing saying amongst the legal profession

Better 10 guilty go free than 1 innocent person is found guilty.

The large majority of SPM were innocent BUT were found guilty by the Post Office Legal team / CPS and Procurator Fiscal (Scotland) offering up "dodgy evidence".

The Post Office did not admit there were major errors in their software / Fujitsu hiding their back door access to branch accounts data.

The PO instigated investigations internally and brought in 2nd Sight around 2014 - however on seeing the draft 2nd Sight report they sacked the investigators as it was deemed that it would bring the PO into disrepute - Paula Vennels was involved at this stage.

Even after the court case of 2019 the PO has spent more on lawyers than they have paid out in reparations to 109 people who have won their appeals against the charges levelled by the PO/CPS & Procurator Fiscal.

The Lord Advocate, Chief Prosecutor in Scotland, was made aware by the Procurator Fiscal Staff that there were shortcomings in the PO evidence in Horizon prosecutions. There were no more cases after 2014 in Scotland.
The horrendous part of this was that the Lord Advocate did not order re- investigations in Horizon Fraud trials from 1999 to 2015 .
Of the roughly 100 Horizon cases in Scotland only 5/6 have been exonerated - they are all older and at least 1 had died before the guilty verdict was quashed.

I have followed the PO scandal since it was first aired in 2009 by Computer Weekly - it was bad in 2009 and every year since the Post Office have been exposed as thoroughly corrupt from the top down.

Looks like the Home Office will have many new prisoners in the future - perjury in courts and to government committees, malicious prosecution, extorting money from innocent SPM ...........

This scandal will run for many more years even after the UK Government eventually pay out the 900+SPM
 Post Office IT - Horizon - smokie
Well a new "secret" document (Bramble) written by Deloitte for the Post Office in 2017 indicates that there were problems with the Horizon system yet the PO steamrollered on with prosecutions and denials. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-68663750

All of those in the PO who did know what was going on, plus any who should have known but claimed they didn't, and especially those who continued the process, should be imprisoned. That should include Paula Vennels and probable most of the Board, and the investigators. I suppose perjury might be a starting point for some but there's probably something more suitable.

That's what they were trying to do to innocent people.

It is truly unbelievable, especially in a public body.

Last edited by: smokie on Thu 28 Mar 24 at 20:42
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Falkirk Bairn
Porridge for a number of PO senior managers, lawyers, investigators, prosecutors, Fujitsu expert witnesses etc etc

However, it has taken 20 years for action to quash the convictions of SPM as Horizon problems were known about and ignored.

How long will it take to raise cases of perjury, blackmailing SPM into handing over money / going bankrupt for "system" generated shortfalls .................

Horizon shortfalls are still being made today. Fujitsu has never managed to eliminate the bugs in 25+ years.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Zero
>> Porridge for a number of PO senior managers, lawyers, investigators, prosecutors, Fujitsu expert witnesses etc
>> etc

Wont happen. too many prominent figures could be hauled in. The level of implication by the legal profession in this is what shocks me most I think. Its starting to make the basis of our legal system look pretty ropey. I can just about understand withholding facts, but some of this looks like perjury.
Last edited by: Zero on Fri 29 Mar 24 at 09:42
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
The lawyer's regulators are on it so we may see a few disciplined.

As to criminality it may be difficult to pin enough on one or more individuals.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Terry
If they applied the same standards of evidence and proof to the prosecution of PO staff implicated as they did to the SPMs they found guilty, there would be hundreds behind bars.

Failure to take very swift action undermines any trust in our once respected legal system. That it may result in convictions for the "great and good" would be a clear demonstration that all are equal under the law, not a failing and corrupt society.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>> >> Porridge for a number of PO senior managers, lawyers, investigators, prosecutors, Fujitsu expert witnesses
>> etc
>> >> etc
>>
>> Wont happen. too many prominent figures could be hauled in. The level of implication by
>> the legal profession in this is what shocks me most I think. Its starting to
>> make the basis of our legal system look pretty ropey. I can just about understand
>> withholding facts, but some of this looks like perjury.
>>

Barrister admitted getting an expert witness to change his testimony - outrageous!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-68606121
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Fullchat
To be fair. in the last but one extract, it was asked to explain what was meant by 'screen calibration issues' and to give examples. (not highlighted).
In this instance is it a case of taking part of a statement out of context thereby making inferences?
Not defending what they did of course but there is a danger of the meddling press potentially destroying a case just for headlines.
Last edited by: Fullchat on Fri 29 Mar 24 at 10:53
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
I wouldn't say it was surprising, he who pays the piper...

Makes you wonder what other trials have been corrupted in some way by amended expert witnesses. I think i said it somewhere up thread, this will undermine future expert witnesses. Well they would say that...
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
>> Makes you wonder what other trials have been corrupted in some way by amended expert
>> witnesses. I think i said it somewhere up thread, this will undermine future expert witnesses.
>> Well they would say that...
>>

Sally Clark (RIP) served 11 years of a life sentence before appeal.

Professor Sir Roy Meadow's evidence (which appears to have been totally incorrect) was the basis for hers and other mother's trails. He was the go to expert witness because the authorities knew what his input to the trial would be.

A dreadful miscarriage which ruined Sally Clark's life and probably contributed to her later problems (drink?) which lead to her death - 11 years in prison as a child murderer must be horrendous.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
Meadows was a paediatrician. If he'd kept to that and not tried to be an expert in statistics too Sally Clark might have lived longer.

What is, in a way, more alarming is that Judges, Counsel and other experts were themselves not numerate enough to ask more questions.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - zippy
Plus the fact that the prosecution didn't disclose to the defence that one of the sons had an infection that probably killed him - adding to the miscarriage.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Bromptonaut
>> Plus the fact that the prosecution didn't disclose to the defence that one of the
>> sons had an infection that probably killed him - adding to the miscarriage.

Failure to disclose properly. A theme that runs through miscarriages of justice passim including Horizon.

See also Stefan Kizsko.
Last edited by: Bromptonaut on Fri 29 Mar 24 at 16:45
 Post Office IT - Horizon - sooty123
He was the go to expert witness because the
>> authorities knew what his input to the trial would be.
>>

Pretty common i would have thought. They only want the experts giving the answers they want to hear.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Fullchat
You can find an 'expert' to tell you anything you want.
 Post Office IT - Horizon - Kevin
Witnesses before the Post Office inquiry may have to be recalled because the PO has delayed disclosing evidence.

www.theregister.com/2024/04/09/post_office_horizon_evidence/?td=rt-3a
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