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Forensic accountants find flaws

Member: Nifa

Forensic accountants engaged to investigate the treatment of sub-postmasters by the Post Office have found that the Post Office failed to properly investigate the cause of cash shortfalls in post offices around the country before launching proceedings for false accounting, theft and fraud.  The firm also said that the Post Office had withheld vital documents from them.

More than 100 former sub-postmasters were embroiled in the court action and some were prosecuted and even jailed as a result of the Post Office’s allegations, while others lost their homes as a result of having to repay alleged shortfalls.

However, after extensive investigations, the forensic accountants reported that the shortfalls the Post Office put down to theft or false accounting could have been caused by criminals using malicious software (malware), or even by IT failure or simple human error.  Although the Post Office itself commissioned the investigation, following the publication of the firm’s report, it issued a 92-page rebuttal against it, saying that it contained a number of unsubstantiated assertions and argued that in the three year investigation there has been no evidence of systemic problems with the Horizon system.
However, critics of the Post Office have accused it of arrogance in its response and the Justice for Sub-postmasters Alliance, a campaign group established in the wake of the Post Office’s actions, has called for a wider investigation, with one sub-postmaster who was jailed for accounting saying that the report was a “vindication”.
We have acted for a number of individuals accused of theft and have reported to the court on the deficiencies of the Horizon system, so we await the outcome of the current litigation with interest.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 27 April 2015

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