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Postmasters secure funding to bring class action lawsuit

Member: Nifa

Hundreds of sub-postmasters have secured funding for a class action lawsuit against the Post Office after being taken to court in 2009. The case, which is being brought by the Justice for Sub-postmasters Alliance‎, relates to an allegedly faulty accounting system called Horizon. The system showed branches to be in financial deficit, which led to some of those affected being accused of criminal offences; as a result, some lost their homes, were declared bankrupt or even jailed.

The investigation into the fairness of the court cases brought against the sub-postmasters by the Criminal Court Review Commission (CCRC) is close to finishing its forensic examination of the Horizon system at the heart of the controversy.

The CCRC began reviewing claims from sub-postmasters as far back as 2015 when they complained of wrongful prosecution for offences such as theft and false accounting. The prosecutions stemmed from problems with the Horizon IT system; through which they file accounts.

The CCRC has said that the forensic accountants they put on the case in April 2017 have made excellent progress. However, this is not the first forensic investigation into Horizon. In 2012, the Post Office appointed a forensic investigation firm to look into the alleged problems with Horizon. However, they then disputed the firm’s report, which said that the Post Office had been too quick to take action against sub-postmasters.

This is a good example of forensic accountants presenting the facts, whether or not the results are as expected.

We have assisted a number of sub-postmasters who have faced allegations of theft and have first hand experience of the fallibility of the Horizon system.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 26 February 2018

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