Post Office Scandal

I’m not sure there’s been a thread on this? Latest revelations really starting to look very messy. On the face of it certain PO staff need some serious jail time…


Disgusting behaviour all round and good to see it finally getting the coverage needed after the ITV series.

Private Eye always covered this very well. Their report (google ‘private eye post office scandal’) is well worth a read.


The Nick Wallis book is very good indeed.

I saw something today (I think) which suggested that the latest compensation scheme is refusing to make interim payments at 25% of the sums claimed on the basis that the payouts they have been giving are so much lower than recent claimed losses that they cannot believe anyone has lost so much. Alan Bates was offered I think around 15% of the losses claimed, others have been offered similar proportions.

I haven’t seen any of the reasoning for the lower amounts being offered but would be very interested to do so (I work as a forensic accountant and have assisted defendants on many occasions in identifying evidence that claims are wildly overstated but that is always based on evidence not a desire to keep damages down. From various reports it seems that the PO simply cannot believe the sub postmasters are innocent and have lost six and even seven figure sums over very long periods of time)

PS I do have a client who is a sub postmaster but obviously cannot discuss anything about that


Computer Weekly (Tony Collins at first, then Rebecca Thompson and most notably Karl Flinders) were the first to cover it, with Private Eye and Nick Wallis picking it up - Wallis’ work was then used by Panorama in 2015. Neil Tweedie of the Daily Mail also did excellent work.

There’s a good piece in Press Gazette about various journalists’ roles in exposing the scandal here:


I suspect this thread may be considered to be, and certainly is at risk of becoming, too political to survive.

Suffice to say I thought things were bad, then saw the docu-drama and was thoroughly shocked and sickened, and even now it still drags on… How it could ever have been allowed to happen, then so little done to fix things I really don’t know. I’m not a great fan of the “heads should roll” approach to things, but in this case several should - and not token ones - and people responsible for covering up and deliberately delaying things should lose their livelihoods and be imprisoned for at least as long as PO sub-postmasters.


Could earlier knowledge of this explain why the Post Office wasn’t privatised as part of Royal mail?

Should be ok as long as no mention of government involvement?

How do you compensate someone who has a criminal conviction for theft or false accounting, has lost their home, lost their business, has declared themselves bankrupt, has suffered ill health, has been unable to find employment (other than menial jobs), etc.? What sum would be appropriate for someone who’s suffered like this, all as a result of a faulty IT system and what is later found to be an invalid contract, for 20 years?


For the youngest subpostmaster Christopher Head (he started at age 18) there is potentially quite a bit more than 40 years’ loss of earnings as it continues to State pension age / retirement

I think one way is by seeing those responsible brought to account.



If is true that the PO aborted and buried their own investigations when it became apparent that they had vindictedly pursued the innocent then those concerned should be tried for perverting the cause of justice and face long prison sentences


One of the things I find most concerning about this whole debacle is that this is not a recent event. There have been many news reports over a couple of decades about this, and R4 has made many programmes about this issue with Nick Wallis. The politicians ignored it, the general public, on the whole, ignored it, newspapers etc, never really made an effort to promote this. Then a TV drama documentary is made and suddenly all the apathetic politicians, journalists and the general public are up in arms. This could have been sorted out well over a decade ago if people had bothered to take notice, it is shameful that it wasn’t.


The Court of Appeal’s coruscating ruling was ahead of the TV (see link below) — but, as you say, all that’s come forth have been platitudes without biting the bullet on pay-outs. This said, these events have also cast a long shadow on the legal process around the prosecutions, and the allowable assumption that the IT system ‘had to be right’.


I suspect a lot of people were hoping it would go away. Media coverage had been fairly scant apart from the publications noted and local news stories (Jo Hamilton had appeared on our local news several times over the years before things really kicked off after the ITV drama). It’s shameful that it has been like this for so long, but good that things are moving. Prison would be good for a lot of these - Past PO execs, water company bosses etc.


The TV show was in production I expect. But you are right it was out before but even so there was not that much coverage about it until the ITV show got good reviews and people started watching. The R4 show was talking about the issues with the IT system years ago and people just ignored it. It is shameful to live in a society where we need a drama documentary to take notice of an injustice. It has happened before and I expect it will happen again.

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The bit I don’t get is what the Horizon account fixers methodology was for the alterations they made. Given that lots of different products were handled by Horizon shouldn’t there have been some reconciliation for each across the whole network?

Some reports talked about currency purchases - it was as if the system at a Branch had the wrong rates so they fixed the transactions to the right rate creating a shortfall expecting the branch to foot the shortfall. They should have added a compensating amount paid out of a central account. But then Fujitsu would have had to tell the PO that poor synchronicity meant that some branches sold or bought back currency at a lower margin!

I hope the inquiry deals with this thoroughly.

What has to be ultimately remembered is that if the rubbish system hadn’t been launched when it was recommended that it was ditched because of fundamental faults we wouldn’t have had this.


If you don’t have time to read Nick Wallis’s excellent book, you could watch this BBC Panorama programme, which tells the whole story (at least up until 2022).

There is another Panorama programme from 2015, presented by John Sweeney. That’s also worth watching as a simple introduction to the issues, but it has, of course, been superseded by events.


If you’d prefer to listen rather than watch, the story is also told on BBC Sounds. There’s a File On 4 from 2020 and an excellent series called The Great Post Office Trial, which is presented by Nick Wallis over 17 programmes, no less. This series is a précis of his book.

Here’s the File On 4 programme:

Here’s the introduction to the Nick Wallis programmes:


Through one lens, one can accept the adoption of Horizon on the basis the issues would be fixed in short order, but, equally, if not worse, is the PO’s refusal over time to reveal that known issues remained, matters which were not revealed during prosecutions and before court, matters which run against the ‘rules of disclosure’ within legal process. Sir Wyn Williams has commented on this (an extract from the Stat. Inq. 'site i.e. as public info):

'17. I have made no secret of my view that there is a need for me to proceed with considerable caution before reaching any definitive conclusions about the reasons for disclosure failures within the Inquiry given the disclosure failures in the criminal cases brought by the Post Office which are beyond dispute and the findings made about disclosure failures in the Group Litigation. ’

The fundamental problems in Horizon were unfixable. Why should non technical people override? What scrutiny of the evaluation report was there? Were assurances given by the independent evaluators that the fundamental faults could be fixed?

Somewhat ironic that distributed databases were available and that some crappy cobbled together solution using an awful network was given the go ahead.