This is absolutely shocking...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51446463

I can only imagine the lives that were destroyed by this - it seems bizarre to me that the Post Office can get away now with just saying "oops, sorry, here's a few quid, now do run along"...

Private Eye been all over this for at least a decade.

Absolutely appalling.

Hope the Post Office get absolutely hammered on damages and costs for each and every Postmaster/mistress case they fvcked over and then delayed and prevaricated and were (at best) 'mistaken' about.

Total fvckers.

I read a few of the stories - so many lives irretrievably ruined, for too many of the people who were affected, there was no coming back from this, given their age and the fact that this was, presumably, meant to be a last job before retirement type gig.

But it really looks like the PO is going to get away with it, pay the victims off, and then pretend it never happened.

It was exactly the same with the Lloyd's Names, cru.

 

Was it though?  Although it must have been tragic for them, I thought the lloyds names made investments which - when they went right - came with very significant returns and, therefore, significant risk?  Or am I remembering that wrongly?

This strikes me as very different : people doing a job, who were branded thieves, hounded out of their communities, presumably, unable to work again while their honesty was questions, and forced to bankrupt themselves in the fight to prove that the post office's IT system was, simply, fvcked?

What BC said about Private Eye doing excellent work and also plus one for hoping that the Post Office get hammered for their shameful conduct.

didn't the judge refer some of fujitsu's evidence to the DPP on the basis that there was potentially criminal activity?

I've always wondered about the ethics of being the external lawyers on this sort of thing, where the mood music is such that you suspect the victims might actually be right and you're hearing some horror stories about the personal impact, but you carry on taking the client instructions and money regardless.

 

 

at the time when the people were being locked up for theft or worse made bankrupt, this Horizon software was considered as flawless and without fault.

Yes some went to prison for this and some lost all, including their homes on account of this. Royal Mail has tried repeatedly over the last 12 years to bury this news since the first doubts were raised about Horizon. 

I think this came to light because of one BBC journo who was at it for the last 15 years. 

Excellent 'File on 4' on Radio 4 now about the scandal - presume it will be available on listen again shortly - well worth a listen:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000f5hb

"File on 4 investigates the Post Office IT scandal, where computer glitches led to village postmasters being jailed for fraud and theft, and facing a 20 year fight for justice"

I was totally unaware of this, but what an absolute disgrace.

There is a long report on this in latest The ST Magazine.

Just appalling what ordinary people had to go through at this day and age.

Highly recommend the File on 4 linked to above - distills it all very well.

+1 for the file on 4.  Wife got annoyed I was riveted to.it while I was eating!

what would u have said if u were the would be whistleblower who was told it would be better for his career if he looked the other way?

I be like

“My CAREER? This is the fuckjng post office dumbass, I have dandruff flakes individually smart enough to be CEO of this piss-shop, you think I want to prostitute my morals and send ordinary people to the wall to advance a career as a postie without even a van? Fuck off”

Post Office has already got away with this, thanks to the solicitors for the subpostmasters settling last year for only a small fraction of the total damages, despite having won hearing after hearing after hearing. No reason has been given as to why they settled for such a small sum.

doubtless their insurers are shitting it

I’m not sure if they are. The claimants probably signed away a lot of your usual rights when you instruct a solicitor as it was a group action in which they had third party funding. They probably haven’t got much of a negligence claim, which is why they’re now asking the government to create a fund to make up for the lack of compensation.

What’s the relationship between the branches and the Post Office itself as I don’t understand why their own audit didn’t flag that things weren’t adding up?

they will probably succeed, if they make it a political blowup

remembering that small town postmasters are archetypal tory voters

All reminiscent of those sex abuse doctors on whose infallible opinion buffoon judges would send accused straight to the slammer

There is a lack of common sense in modern Britain fostered in the Universities 

Sorry if already said but the latest Private Eye podcast on this is worth a listen. Absolutely shocking state of affairs

i never knew that the post office effectively has the power to bring its own prosecutions without involving the police or CPS. 

Sails, my old man was a sub postmaster and I think the deal was that he was paid a salary on the PO stuff, but then also had the profit from the rest of the shop. He reckoned the latter just about covered his overheads, so it was really about the (modest) salary.

The people in charge, both in the PO and Fujitsu who provided the glitchy commputer system should be jailed.  Just like the the posties they went out of their way to ensure were.

According to R4 last night the Met Police have commenced an investigation

sadly people get away with a lot of stuff. look at tom watson's false accusations

"at the time when the people were being locked up for theft or worse made bankrupt"

This is a very odd judgement call m7.*

*yeah, that works on so many levels

"I don’t understand why their own audit didn’t flag that things weren’t adding up?"

because small shops don't have audits. 

hth

 

That’s the problem with IT even today , it is never ever wrong . And if the PO computer says the till is 20k short this month , then that’s it , they bring a prosecution on that basis , and the jury wrongly fall for it .

see banks and ATM phantom withdrawals . Have you any idea how many people they have eventually paid out under an NDA , despite insisting the account holder must have withdrawn the money or handed the card and PIN number over ? Tens of thousands. The banks do not want this aired in court, ever .

Its is off that so little press coverage mentions Paula Vennells who was in charge and got a fucking CBE in 2019... 2019!

wasn’t privatisation supposed to prevent this kind of thing? I thought only stalinist nationalised bureaucracies acted like this.

Their powers to prosecute were a hangover from when they were a stalinist nationalised bureaucracy

hth

 

but just to clarify, nothing like this ever happens in the private sector right

also, give over pretending to be a shire tory, everyone knows you’re three times as left wing as me (although I’m not actually left wing, tbf)

you on the other hand dice boy are an addict of trumpist right wing ideology

of course they aren’t wibble, I’m arguing with a straw man. Duuuh

heh

I almost posted a straw man gif but couldn't be arsed. 

 

apnhb (I'm surprised this username was permitted) - I heard you chanting 'wall street pete' this morning. we all know you're a supporter of rebbecca long trousers and john 'ever so moderate' mcdonnell

Thanks for the links, I shall check them out...

The Private Eye podcast last week was very good on this story (as they have been for many years, pointed out numerous times above). The Post Office settled for something like £55m but the sub-postmasters are only likely to get about £19k each due to the litigation funders taking a huge success fee. 

It seems like people who do a crap job in Britain get promoted and paid loads e.g. Paula Vennells

I haven't seen any description of the details.  And I know common sense doesn't always apply, but ...

1.  Everyone now accepts that the Postmasters were not stealing/ fraudulently converting or whatever any cash or other assets.

2. The Branch accounts were showing losses of £30k or whatever.

3. Unexplained losses must have derived from unexplained debits (This is where common sense may not apply, but bear with me)

4. Those debits must have corresponded to unexplained credits (even if the IT system didn't post the entries correctly)

5. Who/where benefited from the unexplained credits????

Rufty that doesn't really answer my question.  If the individual branches are wholly owned by Royal Mail their audit should have shown up that the missing money effectively didn't exist in the first place.  If they're effectively franchises it's harder but the sub-postmasters accounts should have provided evidence that something was not adding up comparing their figures to what the computer came up with.

The were actively ignoring that there could have been any glitch in the IT system. If money was missing from the accounts then it was prima facie fraud by the sub postmaster. They had to acknowledge every morning on their IT system that their accounts were accurate, there was no way around it. All they could do was register a call on the helpline to report a problem. 

Paula Vennells who was running the Post Office at the time sent around a memo to ask whether the accounting system could be accessed remotely. It could, of course. But she specifically wanted an answer to say that it couldn't so that the only solution to the missing money was fraud/theft. 

i have been following it for years. Some of them have even served time in prison. The £50m  hcompensation fund or whatever is not going to be enough  Eg one man had to pay £200k post office costs, lost his business and now will have to litigate presumably to get a criminal conviction removed and paid his legal costs and his children were spat on on the school bus at the time. He probably need £1m just to put him in the same position as if it had not happened. I bet he gets more like £40k which is often the way with these limited "funds" which are put together to compensate victims.

 

the man I wrote about above paid the first £1k which the post office said was missing as he didn't want to get in trouble but next month they claimed £4k and it went on and on.

That's curious.  I cut and paste that para, which is numbered as 40.  

Why it appears in the previous post as 38.  I have no idea. 

Perhaps the bugs in Horizon are contagious!

The Honourable Justice Fraser then goes on for another fifteen paragraphs and gets to para 55.:

  1. The exercise necessary above, to arrive at the definition of robustness in [54] above, is not judicial pedantry

 

I forgot that at one stage they made an application for the judge to recuse himself.

The Post Office really did play every arsehole move in The Wanker's Book of Attritional and Intimidatory Litigation.

I have skipped Section C Features of this Group Litigation, but did spot:

  1. I am acutely conscious that the first of those points, succinctness, is not likely to be achieved in this judgment. 

Not only did PO instruct Lord Grabiner to bring the recusal application, but they did so without telling their QC who was in court that day. The transcript shows the judge asking him if he knows about the application that had just landed on the judge's desk and he says he does not. That must have been humiliating. Just one of many actions that show PO's arrogance.

PO can bring private prosecutions just like any body or individual can. For example, RSPCA prosecutions are well known. You or I can bring private prosecutions for theft / fraud as well. The difference is that when "the nation's most trusted brand" does it and also provides a witness statement from an IT expert saying that their IT system is infallible, they get more credit than you or I would, and in almost every case, defence lawyers advised their clients to accept the plea deal of fraud by false accounting.

In response to Elfffi at 10:32, in fairness to PO (which is a stretch), it is undeniable that subpostmasters have stolen from PO. Probably even some of the claimants in the litigation did. But not very many of them. The problem with the system was that it was random. It created both positive and negative discrepancies. Some postmasters will have received windfalls. In fact, by all accounts, they were actually encouraged not to report or account for those windfalls on the basis that they would eventually balance out. It actually was not that difficult to work out how to generate free money using Horizon and some postmasters will have stolen from PO and never been found out. PO probably identified this as a risk and cracked down severely on any discrepancies they could find. Of course they should have stopped using the system. Instead they continued to double down on the claim that the system was infallible for 30 years.

Altogether, PO would have made a profit from this. Some have suggested that the profits ended up in its suspense account and were declared as audited profits, and even more frustratingly would have contributed to directors' bonuses. There seem to be good grounds to charge and prosecute some of the directors, including Paula Vennells, for theft if not fraud.

This is just such a horrendous miscarriage of justice. I'm raging (internally, like a good Brit) at how those in senior positions have managed to move on to even better roles. 

 

I hope Paula Vennells god judges her very harshly.