back to article Post Office denies IT blunders led to criminal charges against posties

The Post Office has refuted a report which concluded that its Horizon IT system was responsible for accounting cockups that led to sub-postmasters being prosecuted for stealing from their tills. Forensic accountancy group Second Sight was appointed in 2012 by the Post Office — at the request of MPs — to conduct an independent …

  1. theblackhand

    Have Royal Mail learnt nothing?

    They should have got a respected US author to write the preliminary report and then got a German writer for the final report. The final report will show that the sub-postmasters were guilty as they had a clear documentation trail that they provided to the investigators.

    When the preliminary writer questions the findings of the final report, Royal Mail mumble something about laws preventing the release of the preliminary report and wait for the whole thing to blow over. No one will remember this following the success of the Qatar World Cup....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have Royal Mail learnt nothing?

      Royal Mail ≠ Post Office

      1. theblackhand

        Re: Have Royal Mail learnt nothing?

        Doh!

      2. Velv
        Boffin

        Re: Have Royal Mail learnt nothing?

        @AC

        "Royal Mail ≠ Post Office"

        While technically correct, I think the lack of joke icon may have caused you to miss the satire

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Re : A Post Office spokesman said...

    "Over the past three years there have been exhaustive investigations which have not found any evidence of systemic problems with the Horizon system."

    By whom? The Post Office?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes we all know computer systems are totally infallible and programmers never ever write code containing bugs, especially ones written for Government contracts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very old news ...

    Private Eye has been covering this story for years. There was a report that an auditor actually witnessed figures changing onscreen without any input from the postmaster.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Form what I've heard, you could be forgiven for thinking the Post Office is deliberately trying to discourage anyone for running a post office.

    1. Sarah Balfour

      There's a joke in there somewhere

      about post post offices, but I'm fecked if I can fathom it out (and nobody thinks my jokes are funny anyway).

      1. BoldMan

        Re: There's a joke in there somewhere

        The queue is too long to bother waiting for the joke...

        1. breakfast

          Re: There's a joke in there somewhere

          "Punchline number 4 please."

  6. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Refuted?

    Or just rejected?

    I see no refutatation in this article, just a statement that "there have been exhaustive investigations which have not found any evidence of systemic problems with the Horizon system", but given the allegation that there is evidence the Post Office "has been withholding from Second Sight", this doesn't contradict the assertion that the Horizon system has faults.

    1. Velv
      Joke

      Re: Refuted?

      There is the infamous Airplane Engineering logbook that does the rounds...

      Pilot: "evidence of excessive oil seepage on #3 prop"

      Maintenance: "evidence removed"

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Refuted?

        This is the MO for the PO from the get go.

        I remember talking to a devoutly religious man about his nervous breakdown. He said it was pressure from work. He felt morally obligated to count all the money he was sending out to the sub-post offices for HMG. But the time allowance never allowed for this. So his arse was on the line and his head in a vice. Not exactly the way he described it.

        Eventually he caved in and did what I presumed all the happy chappies were doing and just guessing the amounts and telling lies in his book-keeping. He said it made his problems go away and once he got his head around the permissions involved for abject dishonesty he stopped suffering.

        I wondered how it worked at the other end of the line. I still do... or did, until this article. Confusus he sed perversa quadam molasses foetida.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My bet

    Fraud from those administrating the back end database. A few SQL queries to redirect funds to dummy accounts where they make off with the cash leaving the sub postmaster holding the baby.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    About time those stonewallers were held to account

    When a company that's taking the Post Offices cash still manages to flag serious problems and the post office responds with denial something's got to be done.

    I suggest a full inquiry with the power to jail those in charge both now and as far back as the first criminal charge was brought against a post master/ mistress.

    It is only me that suspects the denials are due to the fact they can't actually tell the innocent from the guilty so would have to assume everyone is innocent and pay out millions in compensation - which they should - if horizon lacks a basic audit log. They can recover the money from the contractors.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anecdotal evidence

    My Mum was a sub-post office owner who worked for the Post Office.

    We moved away and she took work helping another Post Office due to her years of experience.

    That was the point they introduced Horizon. My own mother reported failings in the system as she was paper based and insisted on double checking everything.

    She spoke to other sub postmasters who had written their own little computer systems to use, who also reported discrepencies.

    There was more than enough people saying there were problems at launch that anyone smart would think "its a financial system, maybe we should be sure it doesn't loose money"..... but no, all feedback ignored with the statement "it works, no shutup".

    There is some serious crimial negligence for the Post Office to hide on this one and it will come out!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who are the real criminals here?

    You can see how there might be a few who were less than honest or maybe a few who's accounting practices weren't up to scratch, but the significant numbers involved here tends to suggest another explanation.

    They can't all be criminals or incompetent. Which leads you to suspect the S/W in use is highly questionable - that or the real swindlers are those higher up the food chain...

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Are you inept?

      > They can't all be criminals or incompetent.

      Of course they can!

      All the PO need do is ensure the subbies are hauled into court in front of a rotating series of judges and do them one at a time over a period of years. That'll teach the feckers! Unless they botch the ermmm.... paperwork...

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