back to article Not biased against you and not going anywhere, judge tells Post Office in Horizon IT system case

A High Court judge has said he is not biased against the Post Office as part of a long-running trial over the privatised network's infamous Horizon computer system. Mr Justice Peter Fraser rejected the Post Office's legal claim that he was so biased against it he should stand aside in a judgment handed down late yesterday. "I …

  1. Jemma

    A job...

    For Mr Gryle methinks

    1. Loatesy

      Re: A job...

      . . . and the Dead Letter Office!

      1. Kane
        Thumb Up

        Re: A job...

        DELIVER USsssssss......

  2. nematoad
    Happy

    Tough

    The judge may not be biased if the evidence presented to him is so obvious that the result is the judgement that he made a few weeks ago.

    Having read the whole thing I can see why the Post Office is so annoyed. Who likes to be told that they are high-handed, arbitrary, oppressive and that their witnesses seem to put the interests of their employer before the truth? Not nice, but if it is true then the Post Office is going to have to "Like it or lump it". A phrase that the judge actually used when describing the Post Office's attitude to the contract presented to the sub-postmasters.

    Mind you, having explained the Post Office's tactics as trying the put the court "in terrorem" would probably put my back up, but then I'm not a judge.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Tough

      "Having read the whole thing"

      Did you notice the bit where it appears to have been a board-level decision to appeal? It explains a lot.

      I'd have liked a fly-on-the-wall report on the meeting with their solicitors.

  3. Swarthy

    I've known people like that: "You have it out for me because you called me out for being a jerk!"

    Sounds like the Post Office is suffering from affluenza.

  4. steelpillow Silver badge
    Angel

    At the Pearly Gates

    "Ah, Mr. Bungus. You have a long list of sins written here in The Book."

    "No fair! You are biased against me!"

    "The Lord did create you."

    "Just so He could amuse you by setting you against me. You are unfit to be a saint. I demand your replacement!"

    "And your sins were of your own choosing."

    "AAAAaaaa........."

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Evidence?

    So has the software in use at the time, as verified by some decent code versioning system, been subject to a proper audit and found to be trustworthy or not?

    I am reminded of this analysis of Toyota's engine management software: http://www.safetyresearch.net/Library/BarrSlides_FINAL_SCRUBBED.pdf

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Evidence?

      "So has the software in use at the time, as verified by some decent code versioning system, been subject to a proper audit and found to be trustworthy or not?"

      There are expert witnesses involved but there are also mentions of the original version, called Legacy Horizon no longer existing. I'm not sure exactly what this covers. There's a comment about relying on memory and original design documents. Given that the reliability seems contentions from the start you'd expect that original code should have been preserved for reference.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Post Office Ltd investigation exonerates Post Office Ltd

    Despite giving repeated assurances that it wasn't technically possible, there's at least one case where Horizon remotely logged into a client computer and changed the records and therefore sending at least one Post Manager to jail. Curiously enough an initial Post Office Ltd investigation exonerated them despite PO LTD canceling the investigation and destroying all related paperwork. Just how much longer must this farce continue until these people are held to account. ref

    Judge Fraser: “There can be no excuse, in my judgment, for an entity such as the Post Office, to misstate, in such clearly express terms, in letters that threaten legal action, the extent of the contractual obligation upon a SPM for losses. The only reason for doing so, in my judgment, must have been to lead the recipients to believe that they had absolutely no option but to pay the sums demanded. It is oppressive behaviour.”

  7. davenewman

    Let's hope the appeal judges declare the Post Office as a vexatious litigant.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judges and bias

    I have seen several high profile trials televised in the US where it appeared to me that the judge had let the media spectacle get the best of them and at times seemed to be grandstanding or worse.

    I'm not sure why the defendants lawyers didn't call for a mistrial in some of these cases.

    1. Rudolph Hucker the Third

      Re: Judges and bias

      You should be aware that the Post Office is not based in the US, and this is a British trial with a British Judge.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Judges and bias

        And thus not televised, because making judges, lawyers and witnesses into TV personalities tends to have undesirable outcomes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Judges and bias

        "You should be aware that the Post Office is not based in the US, and this is a British trial with a British Judge."

        Yes, I am very aware that this case is in the UK.

        I did actually RTDFA and the other articles about the case that preceded this one.

        I was trying (and apparently failed) to point out that here in the US sometimes high profile cases are televised which can lead to...

        Oh forget it.

  9. adam payne

    Earlier in the case, the Post Office tried to intimidate the judge by threatening "dire consequences" for the business if he dared rule against the one-time state monopoly.

    Like being found out to have lied about Horizon and more people suing you.

  10. Cuddles

    He would say that

    In this case, it certainly appears that the judge is correct and the Post Office really doesn't have a leg to stand on. That said, there does seem something a bit off about a judge being allowed to make a ruling regarding their own biases. While a good, ethical judge will recuse themselves from a case if they think they might have trouble being impartial, it's not too much of a stretch to suspect that not all judges will always be that honest. By the time someone is in court complaining that the judge is being unfair, it seems a bit odd that the judge can essentially just reply with "Nope" and carry on.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: He would say that

      Just think what chaos it would cause if any defendant could simpy say "You're Biased" and thereby force the judge to suspend the hearing until such time as he can be exonerated (and he usually would be.)

  11. Blodger

    Am I reading this right (copied from Post Office website):-

    "Tim Parker - Independent Chairman Joined the Board 1 October 2015

    [Chairman of the Nominations Committee and member of the Remuneration Committee]

    Tim Parker became Chairman of the Post Office on 1st October 2015 and took on the role of Chairman at the National Trust on 8th November 2014.

    He also took on the role of Chairman of HM Courts & Tribunals Service on 27th April 2018. He is Chairman of Samsonite."

    So, this same Tim Parker, Chairman of the Post Office is ALSO Chairman of HM Courts.............................you couldn't make it up!!!!!

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    FAIL

    They're Scared

    Nothing to lose now so try anything at all.

  13. JJKing
    Coat

    Oh Judge, letter rip.

    So the Judge stamped out any dissent the PO tried to envelop him in.

    Mine's the one with the prepaid envelopes in the pockets.

  14. Adrastus

    Re: he would say that

    A judges bias can be challenged in a higher court. It's foolish to expect a judge to recuse himself whenever challenged as this would just open the way to repeated challenges and judge shopping.

  15. Torchy

    How do you compensate the family and loved one's of those that took their own lives because of this?

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