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Problems at the Post Office

Member: Nifa

It  has  widely  been  reported  by  the  BBC  that  a confidential report, commissioned by the Post Office, has bolstered the cases of dozens of Subpostmasters and  Subpostmistresses  who  claim  to  have  been unfairly accused of and, in some cases, prosecuted for theft from their post offices.

Having  successfully  acted  for  solicitors  representing  a number of individuals accused of post office thefts, we have  significant  experience  of  the  Horizon computer system that is at the centre of the story.  The  system,  which  is  used  to  record  over-the-counter transactions, is said to have been found ‘not fit for purpose in  some  branches’  but  the  Post  Office  has  remained adamant that there is ‘no evidence’ of systemic computer issues.
In  our  experience,  problems  have  sometimes  arisen  in franchised branches in which staff, not directly employed by the  Post  Office,  have  been  accused  of  theft  or  false accounting.
The controversy surrounding the Horizon system is not new. As long ago as 2009, Subpostmasters got together to form  the  ‘Justice  For  Subpostmasters  Alliance’,  whose website now lists 20 case studies ostensibly posted by Subpostmasters  claiming  that  they  had  been  wrongly accused.  Although  admittedly  not  a  representative  sample,  our experience  suggests  that  robust  and  diligent  forensic accountancy evidence deployed by the defence team can play a vital role in highlighting weaknesses in the Horizon system and the prosecution’s case.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 16 July 2015

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