Non-motoring > Post Office IT - Horizon Car Deals
Thread Author: No FM2R Replies: 46

 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
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