The Post Office drags out the Horizon crisis

The Labour government elected in 1997 reviewed the proposal of the previous Conservative government to put in a new computer system for the Post Office and the benefits Agency. By 1999 with problems already emerging with the initial contract  they decided to cancel the Social security part of the contract and rebase the Post Office contract.  They agreed revised terms with ICL for the Horizon project shorn of the other features of the original proposal.

Following Horizon computer  roll out in 1999 to 2000 a number of sub postmasters already went into deficit on the computer numbers. The Post Office prosecuted 41 in 2001 and 64 in 2002. These prosecutions continued throughout the Labour years up to 2010, and for  most of the five years of the Coalition government 2010-15 under 3 Liberal Democrat Ministers. Prosecutions stopped in 2015 . The  Conservative majority government elected in 2015 did not preside over any. Over the period 2010-15 increasing attention was drawn to alleged errors in the system by sub post masters, and in articles published in Computer Weekly. An independent investigation opened in 2012 led to four reports between 2013 and 2015. These reports drew attention to problems with the system but were not accepted by the Post Office. There were attempts from 2014 to resolve some of the disputes by mediation. It was these growing doubts that could have led Ministers to ask more questions and deter premature prosecutions  before the issues over the computer properly answered.

Things only  started to change meaningfully for the sub postmasters following victories in courts in 2019 , 2020 and 2021. The courts came to accept that there were problems with the Horizon software and some of the successful prosecutions needed to be overturned. In 2020 the government set up a full enquiry into the scandal, and set up the first compensation scheme for victims.

This was all profoundly shocking. Honest people serving their local communities well had their reputations damaged, lost their businesses, in some case were sent to jail wrongly, and  four committed suicide. The courts made wrongful judgements finding people guilty of fraud or false accounting when they had done no such thing. What should  we learn from this  bitter experience and what changes should now be made?

  1. The Post Office and other nationalised industries should lose the right to prosecute people or companies. They have too much power. They should refer allegations  to the police and prosecuting authorities rather than handling them themselves.
  2. Chief executives of public services should not  be paid large private sector style bonuses as they are bank rolled by the state and often have monopoly powers over customers. They do not take the same risks as CEOs of competitive large companies and are rarely removed from office for incompetence.
  3.  Ministers will be ultimately held to blame for the actions of a nationalised business. Ministers  control their access to public funds and may wish to direct their activities in the public interest. To reflect these truths the  importance of Ministers should be clearer and their accountability for these matters should be direct to Parliament. Ministers need to manage the managers.
  4. The current review should consider how the public sector might get some financial redress for its losses imposed by Horizon  from both the computer company supplier and the well rewarded senior management who got bonuses as if they had done well.
  5. The review should examine if the published Post Office accounts were accurate for the period concerned and see how the sums obtained from sub postmasters for alleged losses were recorded.




  1. Mark B
    January 11, 2024

    Good morning.

    Again, very well said.

    Ultimately it all comes down to money. And whose money is it ? Well it is not theirs so there is no need to manage the pennies, someone will just write another cheque for ‘we the little people’ to pay.

    I have said it before. Ministers & Secretaries of State should be responsible for just two things. Implementing their manifesto promises, and protecting the public purse. Make those CS’s responsible for managing their departments, responsible ! In time we will get much more and for a lot less.

    1. Peter Wood
      January 11, 2024

      Who runs our country? We have a political arm and a longer lasting administrative arm. When the political side becomes weak and incompetent then naturally the administrators rise in power and authority. This is where we are now. The ‘little people’ as you refer to us, now includes the HoC in the eyes of the CS. We are in danger of finding our democratic structure ineffective and therefore redundant.
      There can be no change in the management of our country until the political side becomes strong and competent. Bunter Johnson had that chance, but we all now know he doesn’t have the character, competence or strength to do the job.
      We MUST vote for Reform.

    2. Peter
      January 11, 2024

      I did actually do some work for Royal Mail at the time. I was based in their Old Street HQ with occasional trips to another of their offices in Chesterfield. Not on the Horizon project, I hasten to add and not for Fujitsu.

      Mr.Crozier used to be seen around at the time. He had a varied career but no particular knowledge that would seem to fit Royal Mail. Most of the other employees had long term careers in Royal Mail and I found them to be sound, though a very few might be considered time servers.

      I was aware of Fujitsu people on site but had little to do with them. Old Street was a run down area at the time. I would walk through the Barbican and shabby Whitecross Street market into a different world from The City. The Royal Mail office still had a staff restaurant on the ground floor. Very old school, though Goldman Sachs devoted expensive ground floor space to a nursery for employees children and arranged for bollards to be installed on the pavement outside.

      There was change in the air. Mostly not for the benefit of Royal Mail employees. Old methods of working were going and new ones were being adopted. However, contractors were initiating most of the changes – not long term employees. Boom time for preferred suppliers. Problems with sub postmasters accounts were not a topic of conversation at the time in the office, although prosecutions would have been underway.

      Point number 2 about new CEOs on big rewards was very obvious at the time.

      I also wondered why a lot of work was not done in house. Maybe the expertise was not there. Maybe there was no will to develop the expertise. I have also been on the other side when outside firms came in to do work for my company. Results were mixed. Sometimes there was no option. When new regulations on people etc needed to be implemented there were firms that specialised in rolling these changes out. It was all bureaucracy, so there was no financial risk other than the waste involved in implementing it. Software changes were a different matter, especially bespoke packages rather than implementation of the standard packages.

      Individual contractors were a different matter entirely. Many did a splendid job. They were on high pay but they were diligent and productive and once their services were no longer required they moved on.

      ICL used to get a lot of government work even though other suppliers might have been preferred.

      Point 3 is very true. ‘Nothing to do with me’ or ‘I was lied to’ is not good enough

      Point 4 – of course there should be financial redress from all parties involved.

      A point not made is why does it take so very long in this country to compensate individuals involved in these large scale failures? Other countries sort things out rapidly. Infected blood victims and even Grenfell Tower are other examples. Lawyers fees remove a scandalous amount of the compensation awarded.

    3. Ian wragg
      January 11, 2024

      Just a peek into the Orwellian world of the power industry today. There is high pressure over Europe so no excess power to export. Gas, nuclear and coal are providing us with 75% of our electricity whilst 35gw of wind is producing 5gw.
      Everything is running flat out and we are one breakdown from power cuts. What is the governments answer, more useless windmills. Fishy has rowed back on nuclear no doubt because the EU doesn’t want us to be self sufficient, reliant on them for imports when they’re available.

      1. Hope
        January 11, 2024

        Sunak and his Tory party has betrayed the nation, betrayed their own mandate to leave the EU particularly giving away N.Ireland and think their best line is Labour will be worse when their record over 14 years shows this is demonstrably not true. Sunak is in lock step with environment level playing field ie straight jacket not to be more competitive than EU and door open to rejoin. Same for not scrapping 4,000 EU laws and thousands of red tape regs!

        JR today spinning 3 Lib Dem ministers from 2010-2015, how about collective responsibility! Who had the majority of ministers in cabinet and who was PM!! This has the hall marks of JR’s spinning for mass immigration by using the number that sounds the least! 3.5 million gross immigration where the govt has No control over who leaves the UK and it is an estimated number who leaves!!

  2. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2024

    Indeed but this has been all known for years (highlighted by Andrew Bridgen and a few other MPs) yet it takes an ITV drama to get any action? Sunak offers a £75k payment but there is huge government confusion – is this a take it or leave it deal or an interim good will payment? The government Sunak and his minister seems uncertain.

    I happened to catch the Conservative Party Political Broadcast yesterday. Clearly he is intending to enter the next election on a complete pack of lies and a presidential style Sunak. A huge mistake Sunak. The man must go he is not a Conservative and rarely says anything truthful.

    It starts with “Tax Cuts we all want them right and it is what the Conservative are delivering” well no you are not taxes are still increasing hugely with fiscal drag and inflation taxes that increase like VAT, stamp duty, insurance tax… we are not complete fools. The Tory tax calculator just gives the NI cut and ignore all the far larger increases.

    To cut taxes you need to cut spending but government spending before Sunak became Chancellor was circa 39% but from 2020 to day it is an average of about 48% with public service still getting even worse.

    He make much of “his” halving inflation but as Chancellor he was the one who drove it up to 12+ with his QE and vast government waste. Ever worse & despite his expensive education he uses “Quicker” as an adverb.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2024

      Meanwhile Sunak is totally failing (indeed clearly not even trying) to hit his his other four “promises” – on immigration, growth, government debt and the NHS. He is also failing on crime, defence, education, transport (London is now the slowest city in the world – due to deliberate government road blocking policies and trains usually on strike).

      He clearly approved of kicking Andrew Bridgen (one of the very few good MPs) out of the party This for pointing out the simple truth on the vast vaccine harms. Doubtless in twently years they will still be arguing about compensation for this. As with blood contamination, Hillsbrough, and the Post Office… but the size of the vaccine harms is 1000 to 10,000 times the size in terms of damages due.

      Worst still he is still pushing the net zero lunacy – you vill be forced to buy a heat pump amd an EV like it or not or you vil walk agenda. Despite the fact that these save no net CO2 the reverse in fact not that CO2 plant food is a problem anyway.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2024

        “BRITAIN is to build a nuclear power station with the capacity to power as many as six million homes under plans to boost energy security and hit net zero targets. Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, heralded the plans as “the biggest expansion in nuclear power for 70 years” as she set out a raft of other measures in the Government’s long-awaited “nuclear roadmap”.”

        In the Telegraph today. Well yes about time but will it happen amd will they choose a sensible system. Cameron was PM from May 2020 nearly 14 years back and the Conservatives announce this only now?

        Perhaps the most stupid measure of “power” is how many “homes” a generator can power. A home that uses petrol/diesel cars and gas or oil heating, hot water and cooking might only need an average of 100W (just for lights, fridge, tv, computer, washing machine, hoover…) – but a house using electrical heating, cooking, hot water and with two EV cars to charge might need more like an average of 6KW circa 60 times more. So if we all switch to EV cars and heat pumps electricity generation and the grid will need a massive investment to beef it up. We have nowhere near enough skilled people to do this anyway & certainly not in less than perhaps 50+ years. It is also a damn stupid direction to go anyway as CO2 is not a problem (actually a benefit) and the cost is hugely prohibitive & totally unaffordable. That is even before we have electrical trucks amd aircraft run off synthetic fuels made from electrical energy. This agenda is bonkers unless they intend to change the laws of physics!

        Get fracking, drilling, better nuclear & mining please. Cheap reliable amd on demand energy is essential for economic growth, living standards, civilisation and indeed for jobs, industry and above all for an efficient UK defence system.

        1. IanB
          January 11, 2024

          @Lifelogic. Slight correction, a French Government owned company will build for the UK a nuclear power station which they will own and run for a considerable taxpayer fee which keep electricity prices low in France while escalating in the UK. That is what according to this Government energy security. Ensure that the UK can’t shape it’s destiny

          1. majorfrustration
            January 12, 2024

            Agree. Have we had the justification for the price structure that the Government has agreed with EDF – the latter has its own problems in France so don’t expect anything to work here – already over budget and time. You do wonder who runs this country and he benefits.

      2. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2024

        So the maternal death rate increased to 13.41 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies between 2020 and 2022, according to figures published by the MBRRACE-UK. The figure was 8.79 in the period 2017 to 2019. So nearly 50% up. So the causes are what? Covid vaccines, NHS negligence, other? Easy for find out if the vaccines are the cause could be done in a few days but are the Government trying to bury this too?

        1. Mickey Taking
          January 11, 2024

          answer – None of the above. Midwifery in the NHS provided service has lost numerous qualified people who reach a point in being understaffed and overworked in trying to act responsibly with care over the mothers. The end result is being on the sharp end and praying to your God that all ends well, but sometimes it hasn’t. How many situations will staff take before wanting out of that terrifying situation?

          1. Lifelogic
            January 12, 2024

            So thar is NHS management incompetence then!

      3. IanB
        January 11, 2024

        @LL +1

    2. Bloke
      January 11, 2024

      “Quicker” may sound wrong in context, yet it might just suspend a comparative. Reader’s Digest published a book entitled “How to write and speak English better” which many thought was similarly badly worded.
      Even so, the current PM is wrong on far too much. What he says is virtually worthless.

      1. Mickey Taking
        January 11, 2024

        better than what?

        1. Bloke
          January 11, 2024

          RD probably meant: Better than before reading their book of guidance.
          However, one needn’t always specify, as people tend to know what terms such as ‘run faster’ mean without calibrating a speed.

          1. Mickey Taking
            January 11, 2024

            will Govern better. Could do with some calibrating?

          2. Lifelogic
            January 12, 2024

            Run faster is OK but run quicker is surely better as run more quickly?

    3. Nigl
      January 11, 2024

      You are not a conservative still living in some sort of Gordon Gekko red braces world having, as ever failed to follow the politics and after what a judge said, on the public record about someone you keep quoting I wouldn’t be giving him any credence whatsoever.

  3. BW
    January 11, 2024

    Perhaps we can look at who was responsible for the Post Office closures fiasco. Let’s hope there were no rewards, gongs and bonuses for that. Go and take a look at the dire Post Office in Wokingham. One person behind the counter, two machines which the one person has to assist with. Both machines won’t take cash and one now doesn’t work at all. This at a time when the town population has unfortunately doubled and crucified its character.
    Then maybe we can look into the many fiascos and total cost of governance, since it was tripled by the unnecessary invention of more governance with devolution. But we know who got the highest order of gong for that fiasco.
    The Post office scandals wasn’t about one woman, but there will always be those teflon types who manage to slither away from responsibility.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2024

      Well – From the Mail – It seems Ed Davey was hired as a “consultant” on political issues and policy analysis – for which he was paid a monthly retainer of £5,000 for six hours’ work. His work continued until January 2022, with his earnings over this time coming to £275,000. I assume this was for his legal expertise? He read PPE needless to say.

      Ed Davey faces questions over his links to the lawyers who defended the Post Office against legal actions.

    2. Berkshire Alan
      January 11, 2024

      Indeed I went into W H Smiths who now have the Main post office counter, first time I have not seen a long queue, but the one assistant on duty had his head in his arms on the counter as if asleep, when I reached the glass counter screen and tapped on it after a few seconds I was greeted with a tired “Yeh”
      Only ever use the main office when I have to, when I use our local sub post office, run as part of a local store, I always get a cheery, smiling welcome fro the staff who are only too willing to help.
      Why did the main post office move premises to WHSmiths a few years ago, when the old building which had 6 counters, usually staffed by 4 people, is still owned by the Post Office, who I assume are still paying full rates and rent on it, so have only saved on staff wages but not infrastructure overheads. ?
      Ah yes they are funded by the taxpayer, so have a completely different attitude.

      1. Mickey Taking
        January 11, 2024

        and the old front business area is only used 8-10 am Mon- Fri, 8-12 Sat. – Customer Services which is a laugh in itself.
        Sorting behind it. I thought they were relocating all POs to save money, and sell the premises?
        Surely now increased costs?

    3. IanT
      January 11, 2024

      Yes, the ‘old’ Post Office had usually 4-5 counter staff, plus the parcel collection guy. There were queues but they were orderly and moved quickly.
      We now have long queues in WH Smiths, with usually just one ‘counter’ person dealing with normal business. There is often another giving to priority to foreign currency work. Last time I was in there, the queue was out into the shop with 12-15 people waiting for the one counter staf to deal with them. Only one of the machines was working. The other Lady was involved in some lengthy business at the ‘Exchange’ counter that was still in progress when I left. With Banks closing in the town centre this situation can only get worse…

    4. a-tracy
      January 11, 2024

      BW, according to Farage on X, The PO paid out bonuses for every Horizon scandal conviction.

  4. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2024

    A strong temporal association between the 700+ post office victim prosecutions and the roll out of the new faulty Horizon software. Yet the prosecutions continued and our wonderful legal system found no “reasonable doubt” of their guilt. A similarly strong temporal association (and vast other strong evidence) between the new tech. Covid vaccine roll out and the millions (worldwide) of excess deaths and serious injuries. A problem hugely larger and yet no discussion of this at all by Sunak, a roll out that he as Chancellor decided to fund and even coerce on to the young and people who had had covid already and multiple shots. This on the advice of the MHRA “experts” whose main funding came from big Pharma!

    “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” apparently not by Mark Twain?

    To win this election you need to ditch Sunak, ditch the net zero religion, deregulate massively, cut the vast government waste, have high skilled, non criminal & quality immigration only, cut taxes hugely, halve the size of government, unblock the roads, fix the pot holes, deter and focus on real crime, ditch the woke diversity lunacy, get real and fair competition in banking, healthcare, education, broadcasting & the BBC, transport, energy… But Tory MPs are clearly incapable of this.

    Ed Davey must surely resign too as LibDim Party Leader too given his roll in the Post Office scandal and his dubious (surely inappropriate) funding (and for his parties evil & deluded net zero lunacy).

    1. Sharon
      January 11, 2024

      @ Lifelogic

      Hear, hear! +100

    2. Donna
      January 11, 2024

      I agree entirely Lifelogic.

      The Horizon scandal started in 2001. 23 years later the scandal has exploded in the public sphere and the Government has been forced into taking swift action.

      The experimental gene therapy scandal started in 2021. When Andrew Bridgen raised the issue of excess deaths and questioning a link with the jabs he claims a Minister told him they didn’t want it discussed for 20 years.

      It seems 20 years is the standard for suppressing a scandal.

    3. Ian B
      January 11, 2024

      @Lifelogic – Just Ed Davey, what about his boss Cameron? Then we have the prosecutor in some of these cases Starmer, Its a very long list of accountability and responsibility of people that neglected what we pay them to do, and in some instances we empowered them to do. All simply refusing the job, the only job they had to manage and do. They made it all about themselves, look at me people love me.
      t is an opportunity to clear our house out, list everyone that had a finger nail involved and clear them all out and then just maybe we could become a Democracy, have ‘English/Common’ Law as our bedrock. A Government and Laws we can look up to, to keep us safe and secure – not something that fights us everyday to keep us subdued and returning to the stone age

    4. a-tracy
      January 11, 2024

      We don’t know if the Crown Prosecution Service queried these convictions. I have a feeling they did. Senior judges sitting on these cases, hearing from women like Jo Hamilton who had so many people speak up for her, no evidence anywhere that she pocketed the £36k (she was forced to pay off £60k) she was accused of stealing. For 13 years, she had that criminal conviction hanging over her even though her MP was acting for her, so the judges must have been questioned.

      What stopped the court cases in 2015? Someone must have decided not to proceed after DC took over alone, not in coalition.

    5. miami.mode
      January 11, 2024

      It’s been reported that one chap will only give evidence to the inquiry if he is given immunity against prosecution – tells you all you need to know. The PO scandal embodies the usual government-type attitude that we are 100% correct and you have to prove us wrong.

  5. DOM
    January 11, 2024

    It isn’t the constitutional role of Parliament nor is it within the power of the British PM to overturn decisions passed by a criminal court of law. That is profoundly immoral and very dangerous. We already exist under an authoritarian and despotic State,. thinly disguised under the cloak of tolerance and kindness. We shouldn’t be handing ever more power to politicians and governments.

    Yes justice for those that have suffered at the hands of middle class scum and their arrogance but no to more power being snatched by politicians who seek to abuse a miscarriage of justice

    The modern politician and bureaucrat only act when it suits their political circumstances. Their actions should not be seen as an act of human compassion but when of political opportunism

    And no this scandal is not this nation’s worse miscarriage of justice. There is another one, one that could destroy Labour forever

    1. Clough
      January 11, 2024

      I gather it is ‘unclear’ how many prosecutions of postmasters were brought by the CPS on Starmer’s watch between 2008-2013. Who doesn’t want it to be clear, I wonder?

      1. Chris
        January 11, 2024

        The prosecutions were brought by the Post Office under the powers granted to them by Parliament

        1. Clough
          January 12, 2024

          Not all of them, Chris. ‘The CPS said on Wednesday night that it prosecuted 11 cases that “involved evidence connected to Horizon” – three resulted in convictions while Sir Keir was in charge.’ – Independent 11/1/24

    2. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2024

      So what miscarriage of justice scandal is this that would destroy Labour?

      The biggest scandals I see are the net harm new tech. vaccines for people who never even needed them, the net harm lockdowns and perhaps even more damaging the net zero religion.

    3. a-tracy
      January 11, 2024

      Interesting point DOM, “It isn’t the constitutional role of Parliament nor is it within the power of the British PM to overturn decisions passed by a criminal court of law.”

      What is the correct counterbalance to ensure multiple miscarriages of justice don’t go unnoticed in our courts? Which role, department should have been looking at this?

      1. glen cullen
        January 11, 2024


    4. Ex-Tory
      January 11, 2024

      DOM: Important though the separation of the powers is, Sunak is right in this instance.

      The scale of this scandal and the foot-dragging of those responsible justify his action which, incidentally, is not entirely without precedent.

      To understand what the alternative was, listen to Lord Thomas’ pathetic pleading at Tuesday lunchtime on Radio 4 for the judiciary to be given more resources so that they could deal with this catastrophe which they themselves had created.

  6. Lifelogic
    January 11, 2024

    Will we get a sick joke £ multi-million public inquiry into the Post Office scandal – just as we have with Covid? Headed up again by some incompetent lawyer and Baroness perhaps & asking all the wrong questions?

    Reply There is already a judge led enquiry

    1. Lifelogic
      January 11, 2024

      To reply.

      I illustrated yesterday how in civil actions very high legal cost on one side can mean that even a case where the evidence suggest you have a 90% chance of winning the probability logic (and risk of the v. large legal fees) would imply you are better to pay up early and avoid the legal costs – this is clearly bogus justice. The legal system should be reformed so that legal costs are limited to circa 25% of the award. Furthermore they should be awarded even to litigants in person for their time and hassle.

      You have similar injustices with the criminal system pushing innocent people to please guilty to lesser offences so as not to risk custodial sentences on the more serious offence. Perhaps the Judge led inquiry might point this out but I rather doubt it! It would be good for justice but not for lawyers and judges.

    2. Original Richard
      January 11, 2024

      Reply : “There is already a judge led enquiry.”

      This is the judiciary marking their own homework. I believe the judiciary are as much to blame for the gross miscarriage of justice as the IT company who developed the Horizon software, the Post Office senior management and the Post Office ministers and the senior civil servants involved.

      It should be a police led enquiry (not the Met police) or even a military led enquiry. The judiciary cannot be trusted.

      1. Hope
        January 11, 2024

        It is the case. MPs mark their own homework all the time.

        Do as you are told, stay at home, do meet anyone while MPs breached all the rules they enforced upon is with police acting very draconian. They travel across the country, lived where they wanted, partied and had sex while warning the public not to do so!!

        Reply I did none of those things

      2. Lifelogic
        January 11, 2024

        Certainly the legal system has failed hugely.

        1. Original Richard
          January 12, 2024

          LL :

          And what about the Post Office’s accountants? Both their internal accountants and external auditors. Or don’t the Post Office have external auditors?

          If the Post Office was benefiting from a computer system creating credits from the sub post masters wouldn’t this have shown in the accounts? And were all the IT system errors in favour of the Post Office?

    3. Mike Wilson
      January 11, 2024

      Why led by a judge? It would be better led by someone who has run a successful software company. They should be given unfettered access to the Horizon software – including the complete history of testing and bug fixes. Surely a whistle blower could be found too. What does a judge know about software development and implementation?

  7. dixie
    January 11, 2024

    Your inquests should also look into the antics of “officers of the court” involved in insolvency administration who are clearly above the law and immune from punishment when they break laws and the openly admit it all while ignoring judgements in tribunals. Look into the events around the Nortel administration 2009 onwards where the administrators publically admitted they were breaking the law.
    The disgusting part is that justice is clearly only available to those with lots of money and/or access to excellent actors. Even then, even with judgements, redress from public organisations and authorities takes decades.

  8. dixie
    January 11, 2024

    I agree with all your points except item 4 – surely it depends on the contract between the parties and the operation procedures.
    Also, I feel the action of the Telegraph in publishing the name of one individual engineer from Fujitsu was highly improper and unjust. Why should anyone cooperate with any review if the ignorant media and politicians are solely concerned with finding scapegoats to feed to the mob.

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      Whatever happened to Adam Crozier? – – CEO hopping if ever there was one.

      1. dixie
        January 12, 2024

        I think the lawyers and judges will have their work cut out establishing who is actually culpable for what, when and where. But fobbing this off as a corporate action will never be good enough which means it will likely take more decades, if ever, to identify and deal with the individuals beyond the scapegoats being offered up.

  9. The Prangwizard
    January 11, 2024

    Sunak made an anouncement yesterday that the innocent would be declared free ‘by the end of this year’.

    That’s his idea of urgency is it?

    It won’t be long before those who yesterday had their wrongdoings and wrong opinions identified regather themselves and supporters snd start delay delay delay.

    We, the people, will not be protected against the elite and corrupt until those, and their political and other supporters and defenders, are removed from their positions and punished. Many of their type elsewhere must go too. Urgently. Urgently.

    1. Timaction
      January 11, 2024

      I agree. There’s a smell starting to come from Westminster that needs to be purged. Expenses, EU Referendum still not being honoured, behind the scenes deals and agreements. Windsor deal lies, the Benn Act, PPE scandals, furlough payments fraud written off. Our democracy is broken and we need a Swiss type deal to keep our politicos in check. More referendums on ECHR, Human Rights rubbish, non Equality Laws, maximum immigration levels and qualification levels annually. ETC. The Tory’s are toast, they should at least get one or two policies finished so they can claim one success at the election in 10 years time.

  10. Richard Pinhorn
    January 11, 2024

    Two questions.

    Firstly did the civil servants who sat on the Post Office board lack the skills to ask the range of probing and “awkward” questions that good non executive directors ask and so their poor advice to ministers was based on incompetence, or were they part of the Post Office cover up?

    Secondly, there is presumably a cohort of sub postmasters who continuously made up the Horizon shortfalls out of their own pockets. Should these people at least be acknowledged

    1. a-tracy
      January 12, 2024

      Also, who halted the prosecutions in 2015 and why?

  11. DOM
    January 11, 2024

    I see Poland now under the control of pro-EU snakes is succumbing to fascist control with MPs being arrested by Tusk’s thugs

    1. Hope
      January 11, 2024

      Very concerning. Despite this JRs party betraying the mandate to leave the EU! Cameron lauding how UK is under EU law from EU courts!

      Take back control of laws borders and money! No not yet, still waiting. JR’s party is stealthily reversing all advantages to leave, acting in lock step, no divergence, making UK reliant on EU energy and the like! Totally disgraceful conduct.

      1. glen cullen
        January 11, 2024

        Its being reported that Sunak isn’t going to WEF ….I bet Cameron will

  12. agricola
    January 11, 2024

    yes to all that, but immediately:-
    1. Exoneration for all postmaster convicted or penalised in any way. Repayment of financial penalties with interest set at average bank borrowing rates for each past year since the false accusation.
    2. Compensation payments for all those falsely accused set at a level of at least £50,000 pa.for each year of false conviction or accusation where penalties were demanded and taken.
    3. A fast investigation of Fujitsu to ascertain their culpability in selling a system not fit for purpose and operating it in a way that ensured the guilt of the innocent. If found guilty of such, penalties to cover the cost of 1. and 2.
    4. An in depth criminal investigation into those responsible in the Post Office to ascertain their suitability for prosecution.
    5. A similar criminal investigation into ministers and their civil service to ascertain possible culpabiliy and cases to be answered in court.

    Yesterdays offer of a miserable sum of money should be replaced wifh an interim sum of £500,000 pending decisions as to the final compensation. Remember many lost their property as well as their freedom and reputation. You only get modest homes for £300,000 these days. The sum I suggest times the sub postmasters involved only amounts to less than £400,000,000 and will not bankrupt Fujitsu. It is not the time for politicians usual weasel words and long grass protracted action.

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    January 11, 2024

    Your point one is very pertinent. Why is an entity allowed to bring private criminal prosecutions? Civil I can understand but criminal? Without police investigation. How very Bolshevik.

    There are several people who do not come out of this covered in glory and these people should suffer consequences in the manner of the sub postmasters they demonised.

    Another inquiry, which has shown to just delay action. Inquiries should be time bound and last no more than six months. That way the evidence needed can be prioritised instead of the show trials we have witnessed with Covid ministers and civil servants spending far too long on the stand.

    £75K is too small an interim payment and is less than the pay off a post office CEO might receive or a leaving MP.

  14. Sakara Gold
    January 11, 2024

    It seems that the Fujitsu software engineers who built the Horizon system for the Post Office built what is known a “backdoor” into each terminal. This allowed Fujitsu access to each postmaster’s account and so the system was completely insecure. This fact was kept from the defence lawyers defending the innocent postmasters.

    Nobody seems to be asking the obvious question, who actually nicked the missing money? Clearly the innocent postmasters did not. Where did the money end up?

    Fujitsu maintained this charade for decades whilst knowing the Horizon system could be hacked into. They should now be forced to make financial restitution, the monies recovered should be used to compensate those wrongfully prosecuted and Fujitsu should then be banned from working on any further government contracts.

  15. Everhopeful
    January 11, 2024

    I believe that a Lord helped delay/stop the promised fast track compensation/overturning by expressing the fear that some truly guilty postmasters might slip through the net!
    Oh my! What a terrible thing to happen in the U.K.
    The very though!
    Smelling salts please.

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      So, it must be on record – how many postmasters were found guilty each year over the years prior to Horizon, 1990 to 1999? And were all found guilty via a proper Audit?

  16. David Andrews
    January 11, 2024

    Vince Cable, Business Secretary in the Coalition government and responsible for the Post Office, claimed in a WAO interview that he could not intervene because the powers vested in the Post Office precluded this. Is this true?
    In any event as Business Secretary he could not have had a better platform from which to launch his own enquiry if he was so minded. This episode exposes Ministers as incompetent and more concerned with protecting the institutions of the state than those who live and work outside it.

  17. Dave Andrews
    January 11, 2024

    6. The justice system isn’t fit for purpose.
    How could courts find innocent people guilty? What confidence can the British people have in the criminal justice system?
    Time for judges to be hauled up before HoC select committees to explain how they got trials so wrong. What are they going to change to ensure this kind of thing never happens again? Innocent people were heavily fined, gaoled and had their reputation and lives ruined because the courts couldn’t unravel the truth. Did those people hope the courts would discover they were not guilty? Forlorn hope as the courts followed the money in who had the biggest legal budget.
    Much talk in the media about lessons learnt by the Post Office, IT providers and government of course. Time for lessons learnt in the judiciary as well, because as far as they are concerned the same thing could happen all over again.
    UK justice system = a rich man’s sport.

  18. David+L
    January 11, 2024

    So a bunch of highly paid people with the prospect of gongs and the ever inviting revolving door allowing access to even higher paid positions of importance, withheld information and showed a total lack of integrity and compassion for those lower down to protect their own interests? Surely this couldn’t be happening elsewhere regarding things vital in our lives? The last three or so years have seen many fortunes made, many big corporations profiting by huge sums and many lives trashed by dubious (at best) interventions by people at the top. Some claim it was the biggest shift of assets from the less well off to the very rich in history. Independent studies have shown that what we told were essential actions to protect everyone were, in fact, nothing of the sort. I can’t help feeling that there is a corruption festering in every aspect of our lives where those in a position to enrich and ennoble themselves will do anything to ensure they get away with it.
    I note and welcome your contribution to such matters and I hope you will be present for Andrew Bridgen’s presentation on excess deaths on 16th January in the House.

  19. Donna
    January 11, 2024

    This must not be another case of Senior Public Sector Officials receiving no punishment for their malfeasance.

    The senior Post Office Executive/s who were responsible for authorising the Horizon prosecutions must face criminal charges. And there must be no revolving door into other senior public sector roles for any PO executive who was closely involved in the process.

    I’m not holding my breath. The Establishment looks after its own.

  20. J+M
    January 11, 2024

    Another thing that should be revisited is the statutory presumption that computer information is reliable. The Post Masters were put at a huge disadvantage because of this presumption. They carried the burden of proof of showing that the Horizon system was faulty. That is a hugely difficult and expensive thing for a lay person to do. It requires some understanding and access to the underlying software, which, of course, both Fujitsu and the Post Office denied on commercial confidentiality grounds. That is why so many were advised to plead guilty. Their lawyers knew that the courts would assume that Horizon was correct and they could not show otherwise, If you really want to prevent a recurrence, you have to deal with the computer says … problem.

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      All IT systems should have individual program testing, then combined function testing, then user provided sets of test data with ‘expected’ outcome not available to the software coders etc.
      Once all that is done, probably very detailed and time consuming, finally pilots should have been started in real branches in parallel with whatever was used previously alongside the Horizon system.
      My guess is that ‘coders’ were trying to fix failures after hours hoping to cover up inadequate testing, probably not knowing postmasters would have all manner of hell descend on them.

  21. Berkshire Alan
    January 11, 2024

    Just out of interest John, did all of these prosecutions take place without a jury, as I cannot see any reference made to any case highlighted which outlined the use of one.
    Traditionally the jury system has been the basis of our fair trial system, I am fully aware that even the jury system has it’s faults, and is not perfect, but surely some would have questioned in their own minds the so called evidence, and would have taken up the INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty stance.

  22. Des
    January 11, 2024

    From the information I’ve seen so far Fujitsu, Post Office officials, legal representatives and, by extension, every government minister involved could be guilty of fraud, misrepresentation, perjury, perverting the course of justice, gross negligence, misconduct in public office and probably much more. That 736 honest people could be railroaded into jail is absolute proof that the alleged justice system is actually a tool for officialdom to stamp on whomever they choose. The criminality, arrogance and stupidity is almost on a par with the covid scam. There should be not only pay reductions for executives a wholesale clearing out of officials at all levels of government and the legal system. There should also be a large scale education of the public on how government is actually a series of corporations that defraud us and control us with no real authority to do so. Things are now so bad the existing structures are a clear and present danger to all the people on this island.

  23. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    There was a thing that was called ‘English’ or Common Law, with in it is was deemed that it was far better than 10 guilty people went free rather than 1 innocent person went to jail.
    Our involvement with the EU has lost that, the common decency between humans – you are guilty if you cannot prove your innocence.
    In essence once one person had shown that the ‘Horizon’ software was faulty, all other convictions where it was used as evidence should by default be quashed. In keeping the separation of the State from the Law it should not need a Law, a review or any such thing all these guys regardless are innocent, the Law itself, the Judiciary, the Prosecutors should have enforced that the day the situation arose of a false prosecution. As it stands what we call the Law is now at fault and is not to be trusted, it has brought ‘itself’ into disrepute.

    1. Ian B
      January 11, 2024

      Let’s, also be honest the prevarication by this Government and the Establishment (the Blob) has shown it has lost the plot. They are there to serve nothing else, they take on their positions to be the ones accountable and responsible for the framework they as us all to abide by. What is happening now is subterfuge to delay and not pay the correct amount of compensation or immediately to partially make up for the loss of freedom, lively-hood and false accusations.
      If Governments and Ministers and all the hangers on that are the bottom feeders of society the public purse, the taxpayer, can’t see that the ‘buck’ stops with them they need to resign today.
      This Conservative Government is good at giving away uncontrollably our taxpayer money in mounting up debts on our behalf – yet it lacks honesty, accountable and responsibility of its own duties.
      Looking how stupid they make us the people look, they award neglect of duty, with massive bonuses and honours. They have brought the UK down to being a third World Dictatorship, making it all about them. Patting themselves on the back for being incompetent.

  24. Ed M
    January 11, 2024

    The Tory MP on TV last night saying that Ian Hoslip was talking rubbish (or whatever) was completely out of touch with reality (for so many self-evident reasons). It was like gaslighting but caught on camera. The Tories need to get their act together (including stop messing around with Reform Party) otherwise Labour will get in – and things will get far worse.

  25. Berkshire Alan
    January 11, 2024

    The simple answer John is that the Post office did it because they could, and they wanted to protect their own image, jobs, bonuses, pensions, reputations ? no matter the cost !
    When an organisation as big as the Post Office is funded by the taxpayer, it has an endless stream of money that it can throw at almost anything to get its own way, a simple Post Office worker/customer simply cannot compete with such financial strength, and therefore is almost sure to either eventually give up, or be crushed.
    Afraid it is justice if you can afford it now in the UK, and has been for years, no legal aid for hardworking and honest people.
    Sad, very sad, but that is the truth of the matter unless you have absolutely nothing, or are an illegal immigrant, and then the taxpayer funds you as well !

  26. John Pilcher
    January 11, 2024

    Where did the money go that sub postmasters were blackmailed into paying the post office to avoid prosecution for fraud that actually never took place?

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      and in how many cases could a trail reveal where they supposedly were spending/depositing the shortfall?

  27. XY
    January 11, 2024

    Re 2, they will claim that they would be unable to recruit from private sector “talent”, if such thing there be in modern management.

    Personally, I believe almost all modern businesses succeed or fail according to the product, not the management e.g. when mobile phone networks were rolled out last century, with licences limited to companies such as Vodafone, any fool could run one of those businesses and see it succeed because the public wanted the product/service).

    Re 3. Ministers must be able to appoint and fire senior staff and influence policy etc.

    Additionally, there should be a minister for IT. This would have been detected by someone who understood IT and the software development process. Additionally, we often see the same software procured by a number of departments when it can easily be centralised, which would also gain from affinity group purchasing. The data they use could be “multi-teanted” and could then be kept separate if so desired – or coalesced for analysis (for “joined up government” purposes).

  28. Old Albion
    January 11, 2024

    You forgot Number 6.
    Why does it take a television drama to bring such injustice to the forefront of politics.

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      never heard of ‘ducking and diving’ ‘sloping shoulders’ ‘nose in the trough’ ?

  29. iain gill
    January 11, 2024

    I’ve been looking through my records.

    I was offered a freelance engagement by the post office at a fairly senior level in 2021

    It was even agreed informally, subject to contract, and they even sent me the laptop and everything (actually I had told them not to send the laptop yet, but they did it anyways)

    When my legal advisors reviewed the wording of the contract they came back with a massive long list of problems with the contract, and even I as a lay person could see the contract was completely unreasonable and far in excess of any normal contract for this kind of engagement. In lots of ways.

    I proposed the obvious contract changes, they refused any change whatsoever. I declined the engagement on those terms.

    This is pretty much the only time this has happened to me with a large supposedly reputable organisation. But it shows to me their organisation, and its legal & HR team, are culturally not acting within the norms of business and good practise.

    1. iain gill
      January 12, 2024

      Also looked through my records a bit more, I did a stint in Fujitsu in the 2000’s, on a different large public sector project, and resigned after a few months, making it clear that the reason I was going was that they were so spectacularly screwing up the project…

      People of integrity do that. Other people stay (granted often they have family to feed and have little choice). The human psychology of people in that situation is interesting. So is the organisational dynamics of places like Fujitsu who get that kind of feedback.

  30. Ed M
    January 11, 2024

    So much of our government software is made by foreigners. Look at Post Office’s Horizon’s Software. All that software should be made back at home (not in a legalistic sense but in a patriotic sense!). This is another GREAT reason why we need to do more to support Cambridge becoming the world’s second Silicon Valley (and of connecting Cambridge more with Oxford etc).

    1. Ed M
      January 11, 2024

      The US government played an important role in the development of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley didn’t just spring up purely by private money as if by magic. Capitalism such as the High Tech Industry requires some important fertilisation, watering and sunshine from government – and then it will grow into a forest.

  31. Mike Wilson
    January 11, 2024

    You’ve missed something out. Someone, somewhere knew there was a problem with Horizon but, rather than admit it, prosecuted innocent people. This is ‘perverting the course of justice’ and criminal prosecutions must follow.

  32. Rod Evans
    January 11, 2024

    The list of things that should be adopted following the ‘review’ are fine but you missed out the one that says those in receipt of honours associated with incompetence should be returned to normal personal pronoun status
    Sorry Sir Ed you are now plain Mr.

  33. Bloke
    January 11, 2024

    People who check their personal accounts know when the bank errs. With so many transactions, Horizon was practically the only record sub postmasters could access. A calculator shows the same wrong answer to all its users. ‘His Majesty’s Post Office’ is now an exaggerated claim. Even our King’s reputation has been tainted by someone else’s faulty connections.
    SJR signals a better way ahead, yet earlier muddles and losses remain immensely complicated. The innocents might accept a quick payment in compensation as a clean break but lose by avoiding more years of struggle for proper settlement in full. Even the few who were guilty may be exonerated and rewarded by being clumsily lumped in. What a mess!

  34. glen cullen
    January 11, 2024

    ”It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money”
    Oliver Cromwell given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      aimed at who? Post Office, Fujitsu, H of C, Legal firms, Judicial system ….?

  35. Nigl
    January 11, 2024

    Conveniently trying avoid responsibility. Maybe it didn’t happen on your watch, albeit you led the coalition but you have sat in your hands until the t.v expose and then, surprise surprise sorted (almost) in days.

    Your government is as guilty as the rest, inept, couldn’t care less mired in suffocating bureaucracy plus of course rewarding people for failure.

  36. a-tracy
    January 11, 2024

    Lord James Arbuthnot was involved and instrumental in helping victims [MP for NE Hamps from 1997 to 2015]. He got involved when Jo Hamilton got in touch in 2009. He complained until the drama things were proceeding at a snail’s pace (Basingstoke Gazette).

    You’ve got to wonder if he ever contacted Sir Keir Starmer about this, as SKS was in charge of the CPS from 2008 to 2013, especially as he felt his constituent had been wrongly charged and had begun to gather evidence from Mr Bates. Who did he write to in the court system?

    When constituents write to MPs the expectation is that they will be able to reach the ears of other people in charge of Justice. I think that is what is most concerning, we all feel there are levels of protection from our institutions and this is an awakening that there really isn’t.

  37. Donna
    January 11, 2024

    Off topic.
    A double decker bus in London has suddenly gone up in flames. When are the Eco Nutters going to admit that EVs are downright dangerous? When dozens of people are incinerated, or will they still be claiming that there’s nothing to worry about?

    1. Dave Andrews
      January 11, 2024

      One EV bus has a fire, and it’s national news. Any diesel bus and no one hears about it. I heard they put the fire out with water, so not a battery fire.
      If we’re worried about battery powered buses but want to go electric, bring back trolleybuses!

  38. Tony+Hart
    January 11, 2024

    Of the 41 prosecutions in 2001, how many postmasters were convicted. And for the ones that were convicted, what was the evidence? How trustworthy was that evidence? How did the judges convict if the evidence was not factual? Is it the Post Office that is at fault or our legal system?

    1. Dave Andrews
      January 11, 2024

      Precisely, the legal system needs to be put under scrutiny.

  39. Bert+Young
    January 11, 2024

    It is scandalous that the disclosure of the Post Office mistakes have taken so long to be exposed . It is and has been a business owned by the public and as such the responsibility directly of the Government . It points to the inadequacy and capability of direction and control ; the axe should fall on the present and past for this sort of thing never to occur again .

  40. Atlas
    January 11, 2024

    Sir John, what you say is too true. Yes, exactly where did all this missing money go?

    The whole thing is an absolute scandal – the “great and the good” do not come well out of it at all.

  41. Graham Howe
    January 11, 2024

    There is an impact to communities not spoken about yet which is post offices that closed because the staff could see what was happening with Horizon. This has deprived communities of Post Offices that would otherwise have been in place. I do not know if it influenced the Wargrave Post Office from closing. The PO van that comes for a couple of hours each week is not a proper replacement for that community facility.
    With 702 ‘prosecutions’ then there are many, many more cases of communities being deprived in this way.

  42. Nigl
    January 11, 2024

    I thank Sir JR for reminding me that Ed Davey did not advise the solicitors who prosecuted that majority about the Post Office.

    I wonder how he, out of 630 odd MPs, just happened to be chosen to be their consultant? Strange that.

    And re bonuses an obvious way to give people extra money and fool the gullible into believing that the salary bill is being kept tight because they will be given out of a separate pot probably called ‘performance awards.

    A well known oxymoron in the public sector.

    1. Donna
      January 11, 2024

      Davey SAYS he didn’t advise the solicitors who prosecuted the majority of Sub-Postmasters/Mistresses. Not quite the same thing as “he didn’t do it.”

      The coward didn’t even have the decency to sit in the Chamber during PMQs yesterday, demonstrating he’s not an honourable MP, let alone an honourable man.

  43. a-tracy
    January 11, 2024

    “In 2020 the government set up a full enquiry into the scandal”, led by who?

    I guess COVID is going to be blamed for delays in the enquiry, but who is leading the enquiry? Where are they up to right now? Did they see that the Fujitsu Horizon system was faulty? If so when? If Fujitsu started to come under the microscope why were your government still awarding contracts after 2020? How many companies submitted plans to get the new systems or do you have limited choice of provider in the UK? I’m having a major problem right now with a supplier; I have ceased ordering from them and placed my business elsewhere as I have no confidence in them. Who should be making that decision if they couldn’t answer all your government’s questions on this enquiry to satisfaction.

  44. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    “1. The Post Office and other nationalised industries should lose the right to prosecute people or companies.” – Probably not, waiting around for the prosecution service to get its act together would mean the actual prosecution would become the persecution service. The Law as in the whole industry it involves would not be serving society but punishing it. That would also mean the system would demand more and more taxpayer funding – that’s the last thing we need.
    The not losing sight of the Starmer run CPS did actually did have a direct hand in at least 50 of these unsound prosecutions. So did the CPS get it right?
    All entities, that is all entities that require Taxpayer funding by default have a government responsible for their actions. The Government takes it on itself to steal from the Citizen by way of taxes and then hand them out, mainly to chums so whichever way they may wish to shake it out, they are responsible for the output that our taxes produce

  45. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    “2. Chief executives of public services should not be paid large private sector style bonuses as they are bank rolled by the state and often have monopoly powers over customers.” It is not the money but the responsibility attached, and the responsibility of the Government and its Ministers to oversee and ensure value for money. For instance, The BoE is not independent, they do not have a competitor and are not subject to market pressure. The Government bails out every mistake and still pays and rewards them for it – so by default the actions of the BoE fall directly on the shoulders of Government. All BoE loses are at a cost to the taxpayer, they Government is sanctioning handing them ‘our’ money and are therefore responsible and accountable for the service the BoE is said to provide. It is Government that is refusing to manage, do its duty that we have all empowered and paid it to do.

  46. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    “3. Ministers will be ultimately held to blame for the actions of a nationalised business.” That goes without saying, they are now always have been, that’s why we vote, empower and pay them. Otherwise, there is no need or requirement for Government, MPs or Parliament. That is the fault-line to many sitting in the HoC are just ‘free-loaders’ along for the ride, stroking self-esteem, perusing self-gratification. The look-at-Me entitled generation.

  47. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    “4 The current review” Why even a review the Law failed society with a fraudulent prosecution seemingly on the say so without proof of one individual and a free-loading management. A review will not add anything to the injustice, just cynically delay the findings until after the GE. Once that flaw was exposed all the other convictions should have been overturned it didn’t and doesn’t need a review.
    The Courts should decide the compensation and it should be paid immediately. The Only thing for Government to take on then is where do they the Government get the money from and it shouldn’t be the taxpayer. It should first fall with all those that profited by getting paid for the management of the service.
    5. that’s more of the same – The only review is how did the UK Government, Parliament and the plethora of hangers on fail in its basic duty to the Country. How has our government structure become so tainted with corruption, so absorbed with itself and loaded with self-serving hypocrites

  48. Bryan Harris
    January 11, 2024

    Well done JR for continuing to bring out the full scope of the Horizon concealments injustices.

    The Post Office and other nationalised industries should lose the right to prosecute people or companies.</blockquote Labour were in fact responsible – including giving companies RSPCA the ability to prosecute individuals —- none with any justice.

    The crimes labour produced during their wasted years in power keeps on coming back to remind us what true crooks they were/are on

    1. Lester_Cynic
      January 11, 2024

      As usual you hit the nail on the head
      + one

  49. Roy Grainger
    January 11, 2024

    One odd thing is that it seems the Horizon system was only falsely recording “missing” money. Were there no post offices where it was recording a false excess of money ? If there weren’t how did the overall accounts for the business ever balance ? I assume there were external auditors approving the accounts just as in a normal company ? How did they miss this and why aren’t they also being held to account.

    And what about the judiciary and lawyers (both prosecution and defence) involved in wrongfully convicting these people ? How come the total absence of any evidence in any case showing where this supposedly stolen money had gone (either as unexplained bank account entries or in excessive spending) didn’t mean that the “reasonable doubt” test wasn’t enough to stop the guilty verdicts ?

    1. Berkshire Alan
      January 11, 2024


      Agree, this has a far, far wider spread of incompetence or cover up than has yet been exposed.
      Any notes from the Auditors on the published yearly accounts, or was it in a separate addendum ?

      I fear that the true culprits will never be punished or prosecuted in any way, as that seems to be the normal outcome of any investigation into a government organisation which always seems to take years to reach a conclusion, and at a huge cost.

  50. Ralph Corderoy
    January 11, 2024

    Given the publicity at the time, could there be some who perverted the course of justice by not coming forward?

    – How did the one key log of visitors disappear?
    – Who in Fujitsu UK and the Post Office knew of the ‘covert operations’ to fix errors on the fly remotely and when. Did they later deny its existence?
    – Was an automatic log of covert changes made? It would seem normal even if those making the changes were unaware it existed. Otherwise I ‘gift’ my brother-in-law’s post office money we split.
    – How were the ops team directed to problems to fix? From help-desk calls, error logs, or could management make requests? Why did the subpostmaster who visited the ops room suffer a large shortfall leading to auditors visiting the next day?

    Horizon falsely created shortfalls at a post office. Could and did it create excesses for some as well? How were these handled, both by the subpostmasters and Post Office’s accounts.

    The versions of Horizon source code deployed over time should be made available for independent skilled analysis. Modern tools are much better at static analysis of source code, distributed protocols can be modelled in systems which spot flaws, etc. A long-running project typically doesn’t update its tooling because it has entered a maintenance phase where the money has been spent and there is no interest in creating work by finding new flaws. Yet Horizon continues to be used.

    1. hefner
      January 12, 2024

      There was a Panorama program in 2015 by the BBC that was broadcast despite many pressure from the PostOffice. There was no follow-up on its findings by any of the newspapers, nor anything from Parliament at the time.

  51. stephen phillips
    January 11, 2024

    What I want to know is if Horizon also produced false surpluses?

    If not, why not?

    If so, were postpersons REQUIRED to take the money despite insisting it was not theirs?

  52. a-tracy
    January 11, 2024

    I’m finding some of the criticism about GB News not speaking to all parties in an ‘opinion’ piece they do i.e. Farage on Davey the other night (and you all know I have no time for Farage); however, how does this work with a left news opinion piece such as the one written by Starmer today in the Guardian, there doesn’t seem to be any right to a reply from the government to answer the accusations in the opinion piece, are newspapers different to tv?

    1. Roy Grainger
      January 11, 2024

      The rule is that left-wing TV opinion pieces on alleged wrongdoing by right-wingers (like the Emily Maitlis BBC Newsnight sermon against Cummings) are fine and holding truth to power but right-wing pieces about alleged wrong-doing by left-wing figures are absolutely not allowed and will result in calls for Ofcom to shut the station down.

  53. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    Sir John
    The Horrors this situation have brought to our attention are really just the same horrors we all have to face and pay for daily and it comes from the top.
    Most people know it is ‘the man in the mirror’ that stares back at them in the morning that is responsible and accountable for how we create and what we achieve that day.
    The UK, its people, supposedly chose democracy to create the framework of representatives working on their behalf to shape the structures for us to achieve our own fulfilment in life. As such as individuals we have stepped up to our personal responsibilities and expect those that wish us to empower and pay them to serve to be just as diligent. We hand this collective responsibility to our representatives to serve and deliver the best possible framework for all.
    What has crept into society is the warping of entitlement. Entitlement of life and freedom is different from, you must give me that because, well just because. This attitude is now in Government, the Establishment, the ‘Blob’ they see entitlement as being whatever they desire with no responsibility or accountability, they protect and reward themselves without challenge – they are after all the Lord and Masters of the new surfs.
    Whoever previously would have heard of a Conservative Government refusing to ‘manage’ spending then taxing and borrowing without a care in the world. A Conservative having no inclination to manage expenditure? That is not a Conservative that is die hard Socialist Doctrines now embedded throughout the so-called Establishment. The dire situation of no ‘management’ at the Post Office is just them reflecting on the attitudes of their own managers and bosses – the Government. The PO situation isn’t isolated, it is a government lead and generated attitude created pandemic that permeates though out those the Government gives money to and now refuses to manage. It’s not their money so it is not their responsibility – so who cares

  54. Wes
    January 11, 2024

    There would seem to be a question of recompense for the victims of this scandalous crime perpetrated by the Post Office officials.

    My question is, where is the monies robbed from the victims?

    Surely these vast sums must be held somewhere and as proceeds of criminal action by the Post Office must be accounted for and the thieves prosecuted.

  55. mancunius
    January 11, 2024

    How generous Sunak is – with my money. His own is safe.

  56. David Paine
    January 11, 2024

    Do the suicides count as corporate manslaughter by the Post Office?

    1. IanB
      January 11, 2024

      @David Paine +1

  57. Lester_Cynic
    January 11, 2024

    Severely off topic for which I apologise

    I’m currently in hospital so I’m ideally placed to observe the current state of the NHS

    the trust is deeply in debt

    One of the domestic staff gave us some inside information

    Some of the managers on 6 figure salaries are working from home, some only come in once a week
    The stories doing the rounds are true

    Any savings are expected from the essential services, this particular cleaner usually works with a team of 2 others but they didn’t turn up and he was expected to do the work of 3 for no extra money
    Surely that isn’t right?

    1. Mickey Taking
      January 11, 2024

      get well soon, NOT cynical!

      1. Lester_Cynic
        January 13, 2024


        Thank you!!

    2. IanB
      January 11, 2024

      @Lester_Cynic. Welcome to this Conservative Governments brave new world of Sunak/Hunt non-management prolific spending, more tax, more borrowing no responsibility or accountability just waste and purgatory for those that pay. Now they want to have a presidential election to produce more of the same

      1. Lester_Cynic
        January 13, 2024


        Thank you

  58. Richard1
    January 11, 2024

    Sir Ed Davey has apparently made 31 public calls for resignations since 2019. He must certainly stand down as LibDem leader and potentially as an MP, and must hand back his knighthood (why on Earth has he got one?!) If you are as sanctimonious as he is then you need to accept a taste of your own medicine when it is so clearly due – or be judged a humbug.

    Sir Keir is rather quiet on this, though he was DPP presiding over 60 or so prosecutions. And we have yet to hear the names of the incompetent and foolish (and no doubt hugely overpaid) judges and lawyers who over many years perpetrated this outrage. They have done terrible damage to our – in reality now over-rated – justice system. There must be naming and shaming of all the well paid blobbish types who are responsible for this. Apparently Mrs Vennals was almost made Bishop of London! We need these people to hand back honours, re-pay bonuses and be stripped of outsize public sector pensions.

    There needs to be a real price for failure in the public sector. Shame on the blob (again).

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      January 11, 2024

      The whole Lib Dem party has been ‘outed’.
      Thank God they were in office with Cameron and given the chance to reveal themselves.
      The public must destroy that globalist, authoritarian, sanctimonious party completely. They are worse than the Con/Lab uni-party.
      Let’s hope Reform can pull itself together sufficiently to become the preferred dustbin vote.

    2. Lynn Atkinson
      January 11, 2024

      They need to be banned from ever working for the state or state funded organisations again. Sent to Coventry.

    3. IanB
      January 11, 2024

      @Richard1. Its establishment protection to maintain the status quo, the house needs a clear out

  59. forthurst
    January 11, 2024

    I do not think Fujitsu can be held liable for the Post Office Investigation team branding all sub-masters crooks or that the former were being offered bonuses for achieving successful prosecutions for alleged misappropriation of cash.
    It was the Post Office decision as to when to roll out the Horizon software (built presumably by a team set up from within ICL Dataskil) and to assume that any discrepancy was not either operator error or system design error but deliberate theft. I did have experience of drafting computer software contracts for a software house and there is no question that my company or any other would accept contingent liability for any malfunction since the responsibility would be put on the client to undertake an acceptance test to prove the system’s conformity with his specification before putting it into production; the issue to be declared was only the contractual basis under which any reported bugs would be fixed.
    What I find mystifying about this saga is the question of where the money went. If the sub-masters were in deficit then other accounts would be in surplus but not vanish from the general ledger entirely otherwise there would be discrepancies in the balance sheet. Were the Post Office indeed maintaining accounts to the standard to be signed off by an auditor in the private sector?

  60. Keith Murray-Jenkins
    January 11, 2024

    The situation has been neatly explained by you, thank you, Sir John. Your recommended actions to make the future safer/better for all UK people is spot on. Tell us, please..what happens now? Is there anything solid – not just having a beef about things – your regular person can do to get your proposals becoming more than just proposals? Is there any petition or poll in place for the signing up to. This sort of thing…Please advise.

  61. Peter Parsons
    January 11, 2024

    To quote Lord Arbuthnot on this:

    “There is no political party that comes out of this well, we have to face up to that”.

  62. Ian B
    January 11, 2024

    How bad and how deep? from the MsM – Post Office investigators were offered cash bonuses for every sub-postmaster convicted during the Horizon scandal, it has emerged.

    As with everything else emanating from incompetence we now award failure. There is more to come this corruption of failings is riddled through an Establishment that is not fit for purpose

    1. Ian B
      January 11, 2024

      branded all sub-postmasters “crooks” in emails concerning one victim who was posthumously cleared.they

      1. Ian B
        January 11, 2024
  63. John Probert
    January 11, 2024

    I’m well passed a public inquiry these people should be arrested immediately & held on remand
    These people seek power, money, status and when it goes wrong are no where to be seen
    With the status comes ACCOUNTABILITY
    These people are Minister, CEO’s, Executives
    Just what can you say it is beyond words

    1. IanB
      January 11, 2024

      @John Probert. – there is a whole raft of them that we empower and paid to be responsible and accountable on our behalf. Unsafe fraudulent convictions don’t need reviews or inquiries to exonerate and compensate the victims, just action. The Courts and the Prosecution service should have done this a long time ago if it was fit for purpose – in those terms we should see the separation of powers between the politicians and the law. It should just be a process.

  64. Mickey Taking
    January 11, 2024

    back to EVs…..
    An electric double-decker bus caught fire during the morning rush hour in south-west London.
    Emergency services were called to Wimbledon Hill Road/Alwyne Road in Wimbledon shortly after 07:20 GMT.
    Transport for London (TfL) said the bus was quickly evacuated, and the Met Police said no injuries were reported. The force declared a critical incident.
    Max Pashley, a local resident, told City A.M.: “We heard a huge bang. We were terrified.”
    Tom Cunnington, TfL’s head of bus business development, said: “Safety is our top priority and we are working with the operator, London General, and the bus manufacturer, Switch, to investigate what happened.”

  65. Douglas Caster
    January 11, 2024

    There needs to be an investigation into where the huge sums of money the various Sub Post Masters had to pay for their alleged losses went. If Mrs Hamilton’s supposed losses of some £36,000 were typical for the 700 or so SubPost Masters that were prosecuted then it implies that the Post Office would have accumulated over £25 million. This is an enormous sum. What happened to this cash? Why were discrepancies such as this not recognised by the Post Office auditors? Do the auditors have some culpability in this also?

    1. IanB
      January 11, 2024

      @Douglas Caster – it went in bonuses to support those that created the real corruption in this travesty

  66. glen cullen
    January 11, 2024

    BBC reporting – ‘’Wimbledon London: Electric double-decker bus catches fire during morning rush hour’’
    Not petrol, diesel, diesel/hybrid, LPG but an EV bus …like the Post Office scandal, are we being given all the facts about EVs

    1. glen cullen
      January 11, 2024

      Hertz Global Holdings Inc. plans to sell a third of its US electric vehicle fleet and reinvest in gas-powered cars due to weak demand and high repair costs for its battery-powered options

  67. Derek
    January 11, 2024

    The history tells us that the many hands involved did not work. Why it was never investigated by the judiciary is questionable, as persons were committed to prison without any evidence supporting their charge.
    The mantra of “Innocence until proven guilty” seemed an irrelevance to the Post Office elite, and unbelievably, to the judges who sentenced over 700 sub postmasters.
    Before I hear again, the ubiquitous time-honoured, Government words, “lessons have been learned”, I want to read that all of these poor people are well compensated for the devastation it has caused in their lives. Loss of earnings and the full return of their “debt” money should be made available now. No more procrastination – they’ve already had 20 years of that from less than competent people and Minsters of State.

  68. iain gill
    January 11, 2024

    who are the auditors? will they be held to account for signing off clearly incorrect accounts by the post office?

    1. Derek
      January 12, 2024

      A good point, and so the net grows even wider.

  69. Lynn Atkinson
    January 11, 2024

    Politicians need to learn that they whole strategy of sub-contracting the governance of the country does not work. They are held responsible anyway, for the idiocy of the ONS, the BOE, the evil of the NHS (which was paid for each Covid death – can’t wait for the film!) etc etc etc.

    Any party that stands against Bridgen, Redwood and the rest of the precious Spartans also need to be binned. Are you listening Reform? This is the core of the Conservative Party, they hold the batton and they MUST be preserved all costs.

  70. XY
    January 11, 2024

    I find it genuinely surprising that my 2nd post has not made it through the moderation process. There was nothing that would cause offence, libellous etc…

    I detailed the software development process (including the test phases that are key to this question) to show why we cannot simply blame Fujitsu when the Post Office may have been equally (or perhaps entirely) at fault for the software having the bugs in question – depending on a number of factors, which I explained by reference to the overall process.

    I see many other posters having long diatribes posted, many of which seem relatively unimportant, but my post, with detailed expert knowledge of the relevant factors… poof. Up in smoke. Not of interest.

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

    too long on a busy day for me

    1. XY
      January 12, 2024

      OK, bye then. No point in posting the most important thing that needs to be said here if that’s what happens.

      1. Mickey Taking
        January 12, 2024

        Phew – if we all took that much offence that Sir John does other things than read our stuff, he’d be on his own most days. But then moderating would be that much easier – so do what you have to do.

  71. Original Richard
    January 11, 2024

    This Post Office scandal will one day be seen to be chicken feed in comparison to the Net Zero scandal.

    1. Original Richard
      January 11, 2024

      The reason why the UN, the WEF and Western climate change activists, as well as China itself, are not concerned by CAGW or China’s growing CO2 emissions is because China already has a communist government

      1. glen cullen
        January 12, 2024

        and they fund the UN, WHO & WEF

  72. Mike Wilson
    January 11, 2024

    As a matter of interest, are there any sun postmasters who never had any problems with Horizon.

  73. Ukretired123
    January 11, 2024

    The most important lessons to be learned are even more basic as World Class best practices used in the Private Sector which suffers less from political interference.
    1. The project has just one focused main objective championed by the Dept responsible and not two or more.
    2. If the scope changes by more than 50% scrap and start over again.
    3. Stress test the plans and critical assumptions with all managers, users and clients, stakeholders etc who will be impacted before committing to anything to ensure it is feasible and viable from all angles, technically, financially, economically, palatable to the workers and public and sustainable etc.
    The bigger the project the bigger the risk so the planning process is crucial and pilot tests need to cover every scenario.
    4. Never take the lowest price contract without checking the Total Cost of ownership over the lifespan of the whole project.
    5. Ask who will pick up the tab and be responsible for its failure?

    Hindsight is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving lessons which are never headed especially in the Public Sector.

    In the late 1990s the integration and integrity of “old big iron” computers with new smaller networking client computers with totally different operating systems was technically challenging for local clients and extremely problematic over longer distances due to unreliable connections, even with ISDN. To cover 20,000 unproven remote clients was bound to be not failsafe – a key word here. Fail safe strategy was missing whereby a transaction backs out completely if it is missing integrity itself i.e. Incomplete. Financial transactions require 2 elements input:- a simple debit and a simple credit.
    The coders could not have implemented these basics for the errors output.
    Power cuts, line interference and other risks needed resilience built in.
    No wonder other suppliers had more costs covered.

  74. paul cuthbertson
    January 12, 2024

    It is a BIG CLUB and WE AINT in it.

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