Post Office Scandal

i think the problem there is that it was fujitsu’s “expert witness” gareth jenkins who claimed in his witness statement and in person in court that horizon was operating correctly. He has twice been called to give evidence to the inquiry. each time he demanded immunity and each time the post office effectively blocked his appearance by last minute late disclosure of documents relating to his involvement. the inquiry has been running since 2022 so the issue was taken seriously before the itv drama. if anyone has the stamina all the sessions are available on youtube starting with many days of evidence from sub postmasters of the effect on their lives

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What amazes me is that despite all the data presented to the public domain, the PO are still prevaricating. I can only assume that their accountants have worked out that the compensation payouts would be astronomical.

And that’s all that counts.

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I think there is a lot more to it than that. Of course even though the PO is owned by us, the directors still are accountable under company law, so there will be all that jobsworthishness going on.

But also I suspect there are a lot of middle level people in the PO who still think that they were right, most of the sub postmasters were guilty and they don’t want them to “get away with it”.

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Indeed, and to me the other massive significance of this story, other than the obvious devastating impact to many hundreds if not thousands of lives and the massive miscarriage of justice, is the wake up call on the over reliance of information technology, not least the current fad of ‘AI’, and we must all challenge the so called infallibility of it more… to be frank you see this all around us still and it is even becoming more prevalent, it absolutely is not limited to the PO and its management teams. I think until recently there was a view that tech would look after us with FJ’s Horizon system, driverless cars, aeroplane avionics systems, social media content safety algorithms etc and as we see it doesn’t… it helps us, but we can’t rely on it to totally look after us.

We must not loose sight of that and sometimes we need to come off the cool aid.

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I really hope that this inquiry eventually leads to criminal prosecutions, and not just for the “investigators”, who you would not trust to find a pair of socks in a sock drawer.

Sir Wyn Williams has cautioned those being questioned to avoid committing perjury as they are slowly eviscerated by Jason Beer, in particular.

By constructing a platform of evidence showing the incompetence, criminal negligence and outright nastiness at the heart of the Post Office that the senior types and politicians cannot do their usual “oh dear. We never knew. Lessons will be learned” schtick and avoid prosecution as they not only did know, it was Policy.

Pay the compo now. Clear the SPM’s names. If some were guilty, in this case,too bad. The Post Office has displayed such structural incompetence, duplicitousness and malice it cannot be trusted to have done anything correctly.

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We had a 30 second power cut this morning. Always makes me intend to actually start using the UPSs that I bought when there was all that talk of rolling power cuts a couple of years ago. But I probably won’t get round to it, again.

And a 30 second power cut isn’t really an issue, having just got back from South Africa where for a day or so we were on Stage 6 load-shedding, which meant that the power was on for less than half of the 24 hours.

But this is off topic so I’ll stop!

but sir wyn has also reminded some witnesses of the risk of self-incrimination

I think and hope this is so they can put them on trial without prejudicing the case(s) when it comes to it

To my eyes, and per the interrogations at the SI, and from the Appeal Court judgement (which slays the PO on every point), is that the general issue has become ‘too big to convict’ (other than at headline corporate level), as there must be so many ‘bad actors’ involved with this saga, not just inside the PO (of course recognising they were the client/employer who ‘accepted’ Horizon v1.0). Pinning the responsibility down on various people, especially after so many years, appears iniquitous in the much bigger picture here. And, statements of ignorance, can easily be countered by what were the supposed responsibilities of the job role.

Within the GFC/banking crisis of 2008/9, it was easy to blame the boards of the banks, as they were the ‘controllers’, but with this the scale of ‘bad acting’ is so much bigger.

There is no optimal way, nor fair way, to settle all this out, only to make payments with the understanding some will win who shouldn’t, sad to say. How on earth to frame financial compensation for much of the damage to which has been done to people, their families et al, is beyond my ken.

Through one lens, the primary failure here is that the PO’s board over the years has demonstrated it had no control over its business, something which HMG should have been aware of too given the level of oversight supposedly in place.

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i fear you are probably correct - with perhaps one or two exceptions - such as fujitsu’s “expert witness” gareth jenkins who clearly committed perjury leading to miscarriages of justice and is already under investigation on the judge’s advice following the court case.

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Acknowledged – but I have a problem in terms of equal treatment (vis potential scapegoating) if it turns out GJ and others who may have appeared before court are the only ones picked out, as there are many in the same mix e.g. the legal team within the PO who sponsored the cases, the various regional lawyers who were engaged and were either complicit or mislead? What a mess - HMG must be so thankful this business never made it to public market, as the stench would be far worse.

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i think only one other person appeared before the court as an “expert witness” and on only one occasion - as i understand it her feedback meant no-one else was asked.
i agree others were culpable =but it seems GJ was the direct cause of the miscarriages in the courts so not really a scapegoat and sir wyn as rightly in my view refused to give him immunity from prosecution.

but i agree others must also be prosecuted - the ones who it seems will escape scott-free are the majestrates and judges who presided over hundreds of miscarriages

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There was a very interesting story in The Times today by Tom Witheroe – the Post Office has spent twice as much on legal fees as on compensation; the cost of lawyers and the GLO settlement have hit £390m while compensation is only up to £169m.

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It seems to me that from the transcripts of the enquiry the people in senior positions at the Post Office while this travesty of justice was unfolding all have very selective memories, bearing in mind they all would have been on very good salaries with additional bonuses I’ve come to the conclusion they were all either lying or incompetent or perhaps a combination of both.
The worry is that while hundreds of genuine law abiding Sub Post Masters have been put through the mangle suffering financial and emotional loss that no matter how much they might receive in compensation will never be recovered the people at the heart of this scandal namely the management at the PO will get off scot free with the only conclusion being arrived at by the enquiry that it was everybody’s but nobody in particular’s fault.

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Vile, lying sh#ts the lot of them. Hopefully jail awaits for Vennells and van den Bogerd (amongst others).

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She has Company written thru her, like Blackpool Rock.

Vile. And with a very selective and poor memory.

Its amazing how little these senior people claim to have understood.

Just following the procedure.

I wouldn’t say she has a poor and selective memory at all.
I’ve watched all her testimony over the last two days and it’s patently obvious to me that she is lying.
What is meant to look like selective and poor memory is because she is concentrating on making shure that her evidence ties in with what she has said in court before. If she was telling the truth she wouldn’t have to do that. Because she lied in the high court before, she knows full well that if she changes her story she will go to jail for perjury.

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Sadly the senior PO people’s claimed lack of knowledge, or selectively fallible memory, is, far from comic. I hope it leads to those who knew what was going on but chose to allow/proceed with it being charged with the relevant criminal offences, as it appears that courts have been misled and the British justice system brought into disrepute, as well as people deprived of their livelihoods and incarcerated for no reason, and in some cases driven to suicide. The last of these could arguably lead to manslaughter charges, while there must be a raft of other criminal offences in relation to the rest. I would like to see prosecutions - proper ones, not PO style - with those found guilty duly imprisoned and/or fined their entire assets , such penalties to be commensurate with the effect of their actions or inactions on their victims.

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I wouldn’t be so quick in a rush to judgement here. Unquestionably, what’s transpired is beyond the pale, but there are so many levels of failure evident over many years, pinning things on just a few people could/would be unfair IMHO – put another way, the level of culpability is enormous e.g. why Horizon was accepted as it was in the first instance, with the seeming inability to conduct simple audits of entries in the event of issues.

And the legal system itself doesn’t come out of this whole episode with much credit.

The whole thing is such a shambles across governance, approval and monitoring & control structures, Board reporting, appreciation of legal factors, accounting controls…the list is enormous. I hope the SI will see fit to go in to these areas, noting there were also major changes in management (and likely organisational structure?) post the separation with Royal Mail and the massive ‘change agenda’ which the PO was asked to undertake, part of this towards making the business fit for an IPO, a truly scary thought.

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