back to article Post Office burned £100m in UK taxpayer cash on Horizon IT scandal legal fees, MPs told

The "disgusting" Post Office acted as "judge, jury and executioner" before blowing more than £100m of taxpayers' money on legal bills, former sub-postmasters told Parliament today. Alan Bates, who led 550 sub-postmasters' legal claim against the Post Office over its grossly inaccurate Horizon platform, told the House of …

  1. a_mu

    A disgusting system,

    how can the innocent be penalised, whilst managers at the top go off with golden handshakes and great salaries .

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Yes it's a disgusting system but that seems to be the world is these days. If you're not on a board or high enough to get bonuses, you're screwed.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Exactly.

        Not wearing the right school tie or speak fluent country club and picked the right parents? Yer fooked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          These days, it's not a matter of having "the right school tie", it's a matter of having had a degree in liberal arts, being totally ignorant about actual operations and screaming "I know better than you, scum" at the plebs, especially when the plebs are pointing out that things are going to go badly wrong if they keep on going the way they are doing things.

          Hence this, the Boeing disaster and quite a lot of other issues that are probably either being quietly resolved by somebody more competent and swept under the carpet, or like this and Boeing end up going off like a volcano.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            I didn't know PPE at Oxford was considered to be a "liberal arts" degree.

            Your comment sounds dangerously like the evidence-free wailing from some quarters about "liberal elites", used to distract attention from the very real illiberal elites who are actually running things, and as justification for their own actions.

            See also: "had enough of experts" except when they're medical ones during a pandemic...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I'm not sure what you are suggesting? Even the most extreme scammer will turn around and buy the real medication when they get the illness. Unless they believe everything. IMO from my experience, those at the top or in management, only pretend to believe what they tell the lower down workers. They turn foot or 180 quicker than anyone else once the problems hit.

            2. Ian 55

              PPE? Look at the level of political competence shown by one D Cameron (1st PPE Oxon) and tell me that it wasn't an arts degree.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                My point was that a large number of our elected representatives have PPE degrees from Oxford. It's a degree that only appears to be useful if you wish to enter the world of politics. I stand to be corrected, but I don't see any real-world use for it beyond this.

                I also have t take issue with the snobbishness of criticising "liberal arts" degrees, whatever they are. I suspect the majority of people here who hold degrees hold them in technical or scientific subjects (myself included), but it's a dangerous fallacy to think that other areas of human experience are less valuable just because you don't hold an interest in them yourself, or that degrees in other subjects are somehow "useless".

                FWIW, my first degree was in chemistry. I can honestly say that it has been of very little practical use to me in the last two decades (I work in a completely different field now). I think the last time it was remotely useful was probably around 15 years ago when I showed someone how to make thermite for a demonstration to school students, and TBH you don't need a chemistry degree to know that. If someone with a "liberal arts" degree can make use of their degree, I'd argue that their degree is more useful than mine.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Allegedly, the Post Office management past a certain level is a solid bastion of Freemasonry. So if this sort of problem rears its head, perhaps they all watch each others backs. If it is true, then they probably tried to get rid of that judge so that a Masonic one could take over.

    2. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Who is responsible

      It is like Grenfell.

      There are people who know what happened. Someone signed off on this defective system. They must be rooted out and prosecuted. It happens too often and I am angry.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: Who is responsible

        This is not like Grenfell.

        The first time they knew there was a problem at Grenfell was during the fire.

        The post office system failed for years and the post office failed to investigate their system.

        If there where hundreds of Grenfell type fires before action then that would be a comparator

        1. CliveS
          Flame

          Re: Who is responsible

          August 1973 - Summerland, Douglas, Isle of Man - 50 dead - Clad with Oroglas flammable acrylic

          April 1991 - Knowsley Heights, Huyton, Merseyside - No deaths - Reclad with flammable material

          June 1999 - Garnock Court, Irvine - 1 death - Reclad with flammable material

          July 2009 - Lakanhal House, Camberwell - 6 dead - Refurbished with flammable cladding

          Grenfell Tower refurb architects unaware of fire safety advice for tall buildings, but were selected on basis of cost. Local building control rubber-stamped the design and specifications.

          So more than 40 years of evidence that flammable cladding on tall buildings is a bad idea, yet ignorance and cutting corners resulted in loss of life. Seems comparable to a degree at least.

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: Who is responsible

            In February a watertank in Dundee was set on fire by an arsonist.At the time I thought, "LOL only in Dundee could someone set fire to a watertank".

            On hindsight the tank was covered in Grenfell-like cladding and the cladding burned easily.

          2. not.known@this.address Silver badge

            Re: Who is responsible

            CliveS, the original material specified was fire-retardant. Some penny-pinching manager decided it would be acceptable to go for a cheaper material because it looked the same and the name was close enough.

            If you specify fireproof materials and I fit expanded polystyrene foam tiles instead, who is to blame?

            1. CliveS

              Re: Who is responsible

              >>If you specify fireproof materials and I fit expanded polystyrene foam tiles instead, who is to blame?

              If only it were that simple, though from all I've read so far, the underlying cause was penny-pinching by KCTMO and lack of relevant competence by the architects.

              The (unoccupied) ground floor was protected by Glass Reinforced Concrete panels which were fire proof to A1 standard, but which may well have required structural upgrades to the building if fitted. So Zinc cladding with fire-resistant core was specified, but KCTMO demanded a £300,000 cost saving, achieved by replacing with aluminium cladding with a Celotex RS5000 core. Emails released by Celotex include one from March 2015, Daniel Anketell-Jones, a technical manager at the cladding design company Harley, which said the aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding "will be gone rather quickly in a fire!" Another from fire consultants Exova, accepted the zinc cladding being considered at the time would fail if there were external flames. The response from the architects, E Studio, was that "metal cladding always burns and falls off". E studio had no experience of high rise cladding projects, but got the gig by accepting a tender of £99,000 which avoided the need for competitive tender.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Who is responsible

          The first time they knew there was a problem at Grenfell was during the fire.

          I've not been following the Grenfell inquiry closely, but I think this statement is woefully inaccurate.

          At the very least, I believe the residents themselves had been raising concerns, which for all intents and purposes were ignored, well before the fire happened.

          1. jeffdyer

            Re: Who is responsible

            The fact that gas pipes were run through "public" spaces is a right no brainer.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " whilst managers at the top go off with golden handshakes and great salaries "

      At some point someone will snap and then those managers will start popping up (literally) from river bottoms.

      The amount of damage and destruction to people's lives that's been done means that a fair number of them feel like they've already had their lives so utterly ruined so they can't lose anything more - and then there's the issue of the subpostmasters driven to suicide by the harrassment - this SHOULD be treated as corporate manslaughter

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    Simple formula.

    The people responsible pay all the lost money out of their own accounts. If they have to sell up and go bankrupt, so be it. If they can't pay, well send them to jail.

    After all, it what the victims faced.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple formula.

      "If they can't pay, well send them to jail".

      With hard labour.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Simple formula.

      "The people responsible pay all the lost money out of their own accounts"

      Victims DIED as a result of Post Office's behaviour and harrassment of innocents.

      Criminal charges need to be filed.

  3. Juan Inamillion

    Beyond reason

    How did it come to this? It seems impossible that what should be simple accounting ends up with lives at stake, lives and families ruined. And all the associated people, relatives etc and what about friends and neighbours? \all the people in their local communities who trusted them and all that trust erroneously cast aside. All who came to mistrust these sub-postmasters and for what? A fucking computer error.

    If I had a few million I'd put it into their fund to ream those bastards. Paula Venells for a start. Millions she 'earned' and then off to another highly paid job with no accountability for what havoc she's caused.

    It's an utter utter disgrace and no doubt none of the fuckers responsible will ever be held to account.

    Sorry it's been a long day...

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Beyond reason

      Dont’t apologise. The bastards including the sacred Paula (a Coe minister) should be pursued.

      They won’t be though...

  4. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Devil

    "That doesn't make sense" ...

    Surely somebody in the Post Office should have realised that the allegations just didn't make sense. You may get one or two "bad apples", but 550+?

    Perhaps the corporate line of "they're all thieves" was easier to believe, (and far less career-limiting), than their own fallibility.

    A few years ago, somebody on the accounting side of a courier company decided to try and establish how fuel-efficient their vehicle fleet was.

    The records from the company's fuel pumps were matched against vehicle mileage and when the results were examined it turned out that several vehicles from one depot had significantly poorer fuel efficiency.

    Somebody high up in the company decided that the only possible explanation was that the depot's drivers were syphoning fuel from the company vehicles for their own use. A list of the people responsible was compiled and legal proceedings prepared, but when the Depot Manager* was notified she refused to believe the allegations and insisted on having the fuel pumps tested.

    One pump was found to be dispensing only about 70% of the recorded fuel. The legal action stopped instantly and the allegations vanished without trace.

    As she put it; "I could believe that one or two drivers were on the fiddle, but two dozen? That just didn't make sense."

    * A cousin of mine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

      Run checks before you accuse, quite rightly.

      I worked in a transport related company where the drivers WERE siphoning. Only rumbled by some extra greedy person miscalculating and creating a MPG figure equivalent to a Saturn V....

    2. Peter 26

      Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

      Back to the IT angle. I had a customer who had random files go missing on Windows Shares intermittently (breaking our software). I suggested they turn on windows auditing so we could see what/which account was deleting them. The MD replied, I will get my IT to do this and sack the person responsible once we find out who it is! I couldn't believe he was so quick to jump to thinking it was some employee doing it out of malice. In my mind I thought the most likely reason was some overzealous antivirus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

        I was half expecting that to turn out with the MD being the culprit and looking like a right idiot...

        1. Peter 26

          Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

          Maybe it was. Suspiciously we never heard back from them regarding that issue after my suggestion...

          1. 0laf Silver badge

            Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

            Missing files are usually due to a fudged click and drag. I've done it myself especially on a trackpad.

            We have had files go missing due to technical fuckups (normally some 365 related machine fart), I've never been able to prove files go missing due to malicious action. It's pretty rare.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

              A fudged click and drag probably indicates either that you're doing to much when logged in as a privileged account, or that the permissions on the files were too lax.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "That doesn't make sense" ...

      As she put it; "I could believe that one or two drivers were on the fiddle, but two dozen? That just didn't make sense."

      I've seen it happen - but as another poster noted - if they're all in on it sooner or later someone gets greedy and makes it blindingly obvious, so this kind of rort doesn't stay hidden for long.

      Once detected, junior staff (apprentices) were interviewed to see what they knew and it turned out that the process was so entrenched that they thought it was a part of the employment conditions - this is what they'd been told by their supervisors, etc.

      On a similar note we recently got a complaint that people didn't like being issued desktops instead of laptops because they had to leave them behind when they moved on - someone on the ball pricked up his ears and checked into that, plugging a large financial leak in the process.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    Disgusted of tonbridge wells

    Quote

    there is no suggestion at present that any Post Office manager will be prosecuted for their part in the Horizon scandal.

    -

    If the post office managers were aware of problems with the horizons system in that suddenly 550 people appeared to be on the fiddle, and they went "Must be the sub-postmasters" then that would seem to leave them open to criminal responsibilty as innocent people went bust, lost jobs and even went to jail for those decisions.

    Further more, if they were aware of problems in that the postmasters were claiming horizons was causing the problem , then why the hell didn't they run tests against the software to see if it WAS causing the problems before accusing more postmasters of being on the fiddle....

    After all the CPS doesn't look at a death by dangerous driving case and go.... "hell he didnt really know what he was doing... lets not bother with this case"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells

      Actually the CPS exercises its judgement on whether a case has a reasonable chance of resulting in a conviction and one suspects one of the biggest factors is how much lawyer the defendant can afford.

      These people behaved like this because they were sure they would get away with it. See also Priti Patel, A B de P-Johnson and the like.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Off-topic --- Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells

        Turns out Patel may be even more treasonous than first thought, so some consequences might materialise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Off-topic --- Disgusted of tonbridge wells

          Like conspiring with a foreign ambassador to deselect MPs deemed unfriendly to a foreign state? Nah. She couldn't have. Could she?

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Off-topic --- Disgusted of tonbridge wells

          You mean by standing to a useless top civil servant known for presiding over Windrush scandal?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Off-topic --- Disgusted of tonbridge wells

            "You mean by standing to a useless top civil servant known for presiding over Windrush scandal?"

            Why would I call someone treasonous for doing that? No, I'm thinking about unauthorised meetings with a foreign power without following the protocols and procedures. This would be bad even if she were otherwise famous for, I dunno, rescuing kittens from burning buildings.

            People don't have to be all good or all bad, you know. I mean, I'm a bit of a twat, but I hope it doesn't mean I don't have any positive attributes.

            1. fuserly

              Re: Off-topic --- Disgusted of tonbridge wells

              Have you been reading the daily star again? I was hoping that rag had been bankrupted by now but it seems suspiciously well funded.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells

        "Actually the CPS exercises its judgement on whether a case has a reasonable chance of resulting in a conviction and one suspects one of the biggest factors is how much lawyer the defendant can afford".

        Another of the biggest factors is how rich and well-connected the defendant is.

    2. hittitezombie

      Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells

      It is worse than you think. Post Office has the right to bring prosecutions themselves - these cases didn't go to the Police and CPS, in fact when the Post Masters tried to call the police, they were told that it wasn't in Police's remit and PO must do the investigation themselves!

      Along with many Private Eye articles, this is required listening: BBC Radio 4 - File on 4 - Second Class Citizens: The Post Office IT Scandal https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000f5hb

      Note: listening to this programme WILL make your blood boil. Guaranteed.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells

      "If the post office managers were aware of problems with the horizons system in that suddenly 550 people appeared to be on the fiddle, and they went "Must be the sub-postmasters" then that would seem to leave them open to criminal responsibilty as innocent people went bust, lost jobs and even went to jail for those decisions."

      it's worse than that: Innocent people _died_ - there were a number of suicides due to the actions of Post Office Management.

      In some cases, accepting criminal responsibility and going to jail is a _safer_ option than continuing to deny everything and walking around in public with what's effectively a very large target painted on one's back.

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Disgusted of tonbridge wells @Boris

      Completely agree with your sentiments, but...

      These Subpostmasters were, in the main, not tried and found guilty. Most of them caved in to the threats, and pleaded guilty, even though they knew they were not.

      Thus overturning such convictions is very much harder, because in any appeal, the Post Office's barristers will ask why, if they knew that they were innocent, did they plead guilty.

      There needs to be a full, no barriers, investigation, with a promise that wherever possible, affected people will be fully repaid all of the money they lost with interest, and criminal convictions overturned, such that they would be left as they would have been if this hadn't happened.

      The irony is that any damages would be paid either by the Post Office, or as a scheme funded by the Government. Either way, the tax payer would probably end up with the bill.

  6. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Yet more shittiness

    > Fellow sub-postmaster Tracy Felstead was also jailed because she had signed her branch office's Horizon accounts as accurate – something that had to be done in order to unlock Horizon for the following day's trading, regardless of whether or not there was a problem.

    So the system was deliberately designed with no way of reconciling discrepancies offline?

    Thus the Postmaster has a choice: shut the shop tomorrow, lose a day at least, maybe several days of revenue, *AND* have to explain to worried pensioners why they can't get their pension; or take the hit financially. Despicable is too good a description for the people that implemented this.

    1. hittitezombie

      Re: Yet more shittiness

      Most called the helpline and the helpline told them to settle as is and it should balance itself eventually, which never did.

      Worse, helpline was being run by Fujitsu and had an incentive to "not to find any faults within 30 minutes" so that the call could be closed and Fujitsu didn't have to pay any monies to the PO as penalties.

      It's a very shitty story from end to end, the only people who are completely blameless are the victims, the Post Masters.

  7. hittitezombie

    This is simply criminal neglience. Someone must do time for this. A lot of people must do time for this.

    1. david 142

      I think also misconduct in public office

      1. John McCallum

        @David 142

        it is maleficence in public office and perjury both criminal offences.

        1. Outski Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: @David 142

          I think malfeasance is the applicable term, maleficence would indicate a general intention to do evil (cf benevolence), which, while it may also have a bearing in this case, isn't of itself a criminal offence

          1. Outski Bronze badge

            Re: @David 142

            Whoops, I guess that would be beneficence, wouldn't it, the opposite of benevolence being malevolence.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: @David 142

              Yes. Beneficence and maleficence denote performing acts of good or evil, respectively; benevolence and malevolence to attitudes. Malfeasance also denotes an act or acts, but not necessarily evil per se so much as wrongdoing; that is, malfeasance connotes a failure of official or professional responsibility, which may or may not represent a serious moral lapse, while maleficence connotes specifically some evil act which may not be related to office or profession.

              Kicking a puppy is maleficence, but it's not malfeasance unless you're in the dog-management business.

              A police officer who destroys evidence because he believes the perpetrator was justified is committing malfeasance, but depending on the circumstances it might be argued the act is not a moral violation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Worth repeating (if only for the search engines) the Judge's comments at the conclusion of the case that he had ‘very grave concerns about the veracity of evidence’ given by Fujitsu employees during not only this trial but the previous ones involving individual postmasters.

      The judge said that he had sent a folder to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration: "I wish to make it clear that the specific subject to which I will drawing the specific attention of the DPP relates to the evidence on previous occasions of Fujitsu employees.". He also said, of two Fujitsu people, that one had "expressly sought to mislead" [the court] and that the other had given "wholly unsatisfactory evidence".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Justice - they've heard of it

      Don't hold your breath.

      Meanwhile Julian Assange languishes in top security prison, with solitary confinement, repeated strip searches, etc. as if he were a convicted terrorist.

      For the really vile and despicable crime of publishing the actual crimes of the US government.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Justice - they've heard of it

        He jumped bail and hid out in a foreign embassy for several years.

        The matter of extradition to the US aside (which I don't necessarily agree with), do you really think they're going to put him in an open prison when he has form for running off?

        As for your claims of solitary confinement, et al, do you have any evidence for those claims, or are they hearsay? He's in Belmarsh, but not in solitary confinement (which basically is not used any more in the UK, except in extreme circumstances) - his lawyers may be claiming he has been subject to psychological "torture" because of his confinement, but that was his self-imposed confinement at Ecuador's expense. That's wholly as a result of his jumping bail and hiding out. I have zero sympathy in that regard. Let's not forget that the charges he jumped bail on were relating to the investigation of an alleged sexual offence as well, and nothing to do with Wikileaks.

  8. johnmayo

    I've been reading through the comments (so far).

    It's not 550 subpostmasters that we're affected.

    550 is the number that mounted the case against POL.

    Hundreds more were affected, but didn't come forward for many reasons.

    They were all told by POL that they were the "only ones having a problem"

    I have followed this case for a while now.

    I highly recommend the blog and reporting by Nick Wallis, who tweeted the trial proceedings out in real time, summarised and posted interpretations of the days proceedings, and championed the cause of the subpostmasters.

    https://www.postofficetrial.com/

    I'm holding out for the overturning of criminal convictions for the innocent victims and those in charge at the time to be held accountable.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utter Fucking Disgrace

    And what were the press reporting about while it was going on?

    Yet again it's down to organs like Private Eye to do the real journalism.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Utter Fucking Disgrace

      It was Computer Weekly which ran this story from the start. Years back. The BBC and El Reg have also covered it extensively.

      Suggest you do some Googling before asking dumb questions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utter Fucking Disgrace

        Can you still buy CW at your local John Menzies/WH Smug?

  10. Bendacious

    Hopefully by the end of the many court cases against sub-postmasters the PO management and Fujitsu expert witnesses were committing provable perjury because they must have realised by then that Horizon was not reliable yet continued testifying that it was. No doubt the bottomless pit of legal defence fund will ensure no PO manager or Fujitsu employee is punished but we can always hope. There's certainly plenty of public interest in seeing them brought to justice. Maybe a 'rogue' Fujitsu engineer will be found responsible. Like those rogue Volkswagen engineers who cheated the emission tests.

    1. John 78

      BS

      I agree with the PO stuff, but what is your problem with VW ?

      From what I understand the cars passed the test that was required at the time !!!

      Also it seems, these BS tests were created by people who have no idea.

      I should add that co2 emisions are not a problem, diesel maybe, but some idiot in govenment thought different.

      1. Caffeinated Sponge

        Re: BS

        Slightly mangled interpretation.

        Yes, CO2 emissions *are* a problem.

        However, they are not the only undesirable emission an internal combustion engine produces whether operating as designed or otherwise. The problem you’re alluding to is that most/all governments and their associated bodies spent twenty odd years selling the public that CO2 was the only pollutant. Hence a generation of car buyers who feel cheated when they discover their vehicles may have been making low statistics for CO2 but were actually busily poisoning everyone around them and destroying the planet in many other ways.

      2. Mongrel

        Re: BS

        I agree with the PO stuff, but what is your problem with VW ?

        From what I understand the cars passed the test that was required at the time !!!

        They passed because they had a 'super seekrit' mode that was only active for the tests and managed the engine in an unrealistic fashion to best optimise their test results.

        A 'normal' car running the same test wouldn't pass.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: BS

          The test mode wasn't a secret. It was the standard Dyno (aka Test) mode for the Bosch ECUs. Last I looked, there were still open questions about where in the development supply chain Dyno mode had been tweaked to reduce emissions; but the mode itself was not secret.

          Also, for previous posters: the Volkswagen emission scandal in the US centered on NOx emissions, not CO2. Dyno mode apparently used lower fuel-injector pressure, more EGR, some changes to timing, and increased urea injection.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: BS

            "It was the standard Dyno (aka Test) mode for the Bosch ECUs. "

            Yup, and Bosch had already warned VW (and other makers) to STOP using abusing the test mode.

            WRT the USA cars: the cheat was to allow them to pass tests _without_ needing to have adblue in the vehicle and this was the USP of the cars at the time (no messy/expensive additives needed, etc) - this backfired as the only way they could reasonably meet standards without heavily impacting milage is with adblue fitted and it's not something you can plumb into the vehicle after it leaves the factory

            Of course they're not exactly the first company to pull something like this. Ford got caught dropping their vehicle ECUs into test mode when the onboard GPS noted it was at the programmed location of emissions testing centres.

  11. Charles Smith

    Porridge

    How about the Royal Mail executives responsible for this mess spend some time eating porridge at Her Majesty's pleasure?

    1. IneptAdept

      Re: Porridge

      The royal mail don't own the post office any more it is a separate entity since the privatisation

      I suggest a kneecapping myself, just so the have a constant reminder, along with hefty fines and bankruptcy and a nice 5year holiday at her majesty's pleasure, that they then have to pay for when they get out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Porridge

        True but I think it was mentioned some of these problems started from before the sale.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Porridge

        "The royal mail don't own the post office any more it is a separate entity since the privatisation"

        Yup, whilst Royal Mail was privatised by share issue, Post Office _Limited_ is a privately held company - 100% state owned and operated by HM govt via the Ministry of Fun

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Porridge

      "How about the Royal Mail executives responsible for this mess spend some time eating porridge at Her Majesty's pleasure?"

      It could not happen.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scandalous

    "Explaining that the government charged VAT at 20 per cent on legal fees..."

    That is quite scandalous, for a start.

    The government has a monopoly on the administration of justice, yet most ordinary people and even small firms cannot possibly afford to use it.

    For the government to make justice even more unaffordable is adding insult to injury, and laughing uproariously. Rather like Bullingdon Club members after the third hit of cocaine and champagne.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Scandalous

      see also: removal of legal aid

      The tory party always has been, and always will be, the party of plutocrats.

  13. Andy Livingstone

    Now we know why price of stamps will leap up on 23rd March.

    Daylight robbery.

  14. ibmalone Silver badge

    Numbers

    Post Office: more than £100m on legal bills.

    Eventual settlement: £57.5m

    Settlement left for compensation after fees: ~£11m

    Sub post masters in claim: 550.

    Average compensation: £20k.

    Wendy Buffrey: paid £30k to PO that wasn't owed. Lost further £100k on forced sale. 150 hours community service.

    Tracy Felstead: paid £11.5k and jailed (aged 19).

    Rubbina Shaheen: 3 months in jail. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-50747143 don't know if she was required to pay PO anything.

    Seema Misra: Jailed while pregnant https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50756192 (before which she spent two years paying in tens of thousands from her own business to balance the fictional discrepancies).

    Just the ones that are easy to find, just the raw penalties, not the further details on how it ruined their lives. Yes, I'm sure £20k each will do it.

    In other circumstances you might have called it blackmail.

    1. Jonah125

      Re: Numbers

      Paula Vennells is untouhable with her working for the management upstairs..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please just stamp it out.

  16. Torchy

    Managers Specials.

    Time for a few offending Managers to be punished for failing to investigate thoroughly.

    At least one should have shadowed a Post Mistress/Master FOR A FEW DAYS !

    The problem with the software would then have become apparent.

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Managers Specials.

      Only managers? What about the executives who kept pushing for prosecution, and then insisted on fighting the postmasters' claim all the way? A few people must be guilty of perjury.

      Going after the managers is letting the big guns get away with it.

    2. Jonah125

      Re: Managers Specials.

      What! get their hands dirty?

  17. Evil_Goblin

    As an IT rag, a bit of back ground on Horizon and what it was originally procured for and intended to do, and then how and why it wasn't used for that, and ended up being foisted on the Post Office at all would be a good article...

  18. ProperITSystems

    Latest news in house of commons

    Here is an update, at least someone is following up on the matters on the 8th of June 2020, and they probably will blow another £500 million on legal fees.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000kbft/house-of-commons-postmaster-convictions-urgent-question

    @ 90 seconds

    and "the cover up on Panorama on Sunday as mentioned by Chi Onwurah @ 3mins 10 seconds

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000gpbv/panorama-scandal-at-the-post-office

    They want to conduct an independent review not a full enquiry.

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