back to article Exonerated: First subpostmasters cleared of criminal convictions in Post Office Horizon scandal

Six former Post Office subpostmasters caught up in the Horizon scandal have become the first to have their names formally cleared after the Court of Appeal quashed their wrongful criminal convictions. The decision, made by Her Honour Judge Deborah Taylor sitting at Southwark Crown Court this morning, saw six people cleared of …

  1. Sykowasp

    A shameful event for the post office.

    The redress they mention is surely not going to make up for years of lost earnings, the criminal records that affected their lives, the stress, the ill health, the loss of pensions. Nothing short of full renumeration as if these people had worked until retirement, plus compensation on top in my opinion. It can't remove the time in prison. It can't restore the broken relationships.

    It certainly won't bring back the person who committed suicide.

    Yet I bet not one senior member of staff in the post office has ever seen even a mild amount of discomfort as a result of this.

    1. msknight

      I agree

      Jail the people responsible for withholding the evidence that showed the system was prone to errors, I say.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: I agree

        According to the UK Daily Mail the CPS are investigating Post Office expert witnesses for offences over the Horizon debacle (7-10 days ago).

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: I agree

          Took too long to edit. The rest of my post is:

          Sadly I think that it will be difficult to get a conviction. There was no doubt criminal activity and many a Post Office PHB should hang their head in shame.

          Another news source said that the six exonerated had made guilty pleas. This would normally disallow an appeal against conviction. Just goes to show what a sorry tale Horizon was.

          It is worth noting that some of the convictions were for false accounting. The sub-postmasters had used their own funds to make up the nonexistent shortfalls then signed the accounts off. I am never entirely happy with punishment discount for an early guilty plea. Mostly it is mutually beneficial, the criminal gets a lighter sentence and justice is swift and less costly. In this case people at the end of their tether took an expedient route because they could see no other way out - driven of course by the lies and conspiracy of the owners and providers of the system.

          I sincerely hope they nail the lying bastards.

          1. sad_loser
            Thumb Up

            Re: I agree

            you mean

            I sincerely hope they nail the lying honoured pensioned bastards.

            Fixed that for you!

            Good work by Private Eye on this as well - doesn't make up for their AntiVax work, and I would like more of an apology for the damage they have done - same for the Daily Mail.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: I agree

        Exactly, wherever these people from Fujitsu are now the should be routed out and brought to court.

        The outcome for the Post Office staff has been far too long in coming. Whilst I am not a "compensation at any event" person, lives have been destroyed here by very well paid people who stubbornly refused to admit that their system could be wrong. They even conspired to withhold evidence and lie to the court.

        Fujitsu in particular should be digging deep to provide some recompense. I just hope that all the remaining cases are quashed as quickly as possible.

        1. stungebag

          Re: I agree

          I don't get why you're singling out Fujitsi rather than the Post Office for the blame. Yes, the faulty system was built by Fujitsu, and I can only imagine the conversations betweeen the PO and Fujitsu when the customer was claiming the system had accounting errors and Fujitsu were denying it, possibly for the reason that they genuinely didn't believe that problems that important that had made it into production and they couldn't reproduce them.

          It was the PO that was responsible for the system. They ordered it, they specified it and they accepted it. And they discovered that in some circumstances it didn't work properly. They knew of the software problems yet still pursued these people all the way to the courts and prison in an attempt to deflect the blame.

          Building bespoke software with bugs isn't a crime. If it were then every software developer, ever, would be guilty of it. Was the testing done by Fujitsu and the PO adequate? In hindsight, it wasn't, as it missed something very important. But that alone isn't necessarily culpable. What's unforgivable is the Post Office covering up shortcomings it was responsbile for and being prepared to see innocent people have their lives ruined to save its own reputation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I agree

            Fujitsu employees stood up in court and said that remote access of subpostmasters' systems was not possible (it was, they did it lots). Fujitsu had a financial interest in not acknowledging bugs (they were "fined" under the contract if a support call wasn't dismissed when answered), thus they lied to subpostmasters complaining about errors saying no-one else was experiencing the issues, thus resulting in the subpostmaster being chased by the Post Office. Neither party is blameless, and both should share liability.

            1. TonyJ

              Re: I agree

              This has gone on way too long.

              I've said it before but anyone who stood up in court and stated that this system was accurate needs finding and charging. Along with every manager and director in the chain above them - these were not, and never could be the act of an individual acting alone on their own "initiative".

              The individuals and companies need charging with at least corporate manslaughter for the poor souls who committed suicide because of this.

              Every individual who was subject to these court cases should now be cleared and both the Post Office and Fujitsu made to pay punitive compensation. And I do mean punitive. They were happy to engage in lies that have literally ruined people both financially and professionally not to mention the psychological damage.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I agree

              There are two parts to this:

              - responsibility for the provision of service AND the actions of their contractors. Personally, I think it is very important to maintain overall responsibility for contractors/sub-contractors as it avoids a culture where responsibility is avoided. If the contractors were responsible for misleading the Post Office, it is the Post Offices responsibility to prove this if they wish to share responsibility - sating "it was there fault" does not absolve them from that duty of responsibility.

              - where it becomes difficult is with the contractors testifying in court as expert witnesses. If the contractors lied in court, then that is a separate offence but it would need to be determined if it was done deliberately (either to protect the contractor or the client) or whether it was done through a lack of understanding. Asking a Manager/BA/SysAdmin/DB admin whether something is remotely accessible will likely get different answers based on their experience and if that is the case, prosecuting against that may prove difficult. On the other hand, prosecuting the responsible party gives them the opportunity to throw people under the proverbial bus and makes a judges life a little easier in terms of how they award the blame.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I agree

            Repeating myself for a second time from previous Register articles on this, the judge on the earlier hearing (now quite some time ago) ended his summary by saying that of two Fujitsu people, one had "expressly sought to mislead" the court and that the other had given "wholly unsatisfactory evidence".

            This was predominantly a case about the technical elements. I have no sympathy for the Post Office's conduct in this case but especially in these days of large outsourcing, they would have been heavily reliant. on any technical issues, on the statements made by Fujitsu.

      3. Cynic_999

        Re: I agree

        I am hopeful that they will someday be prosecuted and convicted of their crimes. But I won't hold my breath.

    2. dave 81

      It's utterly disgusting that those that perverted the course of justice will not suffer any jail time. They should be nailed to the wall. But yet again, justice is only for those that can afford it. Stuff the rest of us.

    3. genghis_uk

      Not only have they not had any discomfort, one was given a CBE for 'services to the Post Office' and now runs the Imperial Colege NHS trust...

      It is interesting that her Wikipedia page is not exactly flattering:

      Others lied under oath and have had no comeback other than a few harsh words from justices.

      Hats off to Private Eye and others for keeping this in public view for the last 16years+ so it didn't end up swept under the rug as an embarrassment to friends in high places!

      1. macjules

        Wow, that bitch should team up with Dido Harding and run Capita together. Looks like they would make the ideal dream team (your worst nightmare is still a dream of sorts).

        1. Snapper

          Yeah, and she had the arrogance to take holy orders to become a Priest! Obviously thinks very highly of herself and likes telling people what to do.

      2. matthewdjb

        Not just private eye, but also computer weekly.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          C W ran the story first. Private Eye picked it up and brought it to the (wider) public's attention. Then in their own particular way stuck with the story, not letting it sink into journalistic oblivion. It's the latter that's most significant. Private Eye kept it in sight, while the Post Office B****rds were almost certainly expecting the fuss to die down as it usually does after a major scandal.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One at least has moved out of the tech industry

        Angela van den Bogerd was just appointed "Head of People" at the Football Association of Wales. See:

        Quote from BBC article (which may be assumed to accurately report a judge's words):

        'The judge [Rt Hon Justice Fraser] said Mrs van den Bogerd "did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters, and mislead me."'

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You will be pleased to know that she has now been sacked from the NHS trust, just need the jail time now, horrible looking woman, looks the part !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Agree with the first parts, but there's no need for derogatory on her appearance.

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          What have looks got to do with anything?

          I suppose you believe in phrenology as well.

          1. Rob Daglish


            Only if I get to try PTerry's Retro-Phrenology - altering people's personality by changing the shape of their skull.

    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      As well as addressing the consequences of these particular cases; we need to take a long hard look at the judicial system which allowed such grievous miscarriages to occur.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Yet I bet not one senior member of staff in the post office has ever seen even a mild amount of discomfort as a result of this."

      Why do you think this has dragged on for so long? All those with any level of reasonability have long moved on and can no longer be disciplined or penalised. Unless someone can show enough evidence against named individuals to bring a criminal case or provide enough cash (lots!) to bring a civil case, then no individuals will suffer for this debacle. Current PO management will pay up what they have to and apologise with a clean personal conscience on behalf of the business.

    6. NeilPost Silver badge

      Some jail time needed for the malicious prosecution by Post Office and Fujitsu officials/liars.

      Indeed as the Post Office ... it probably meets the criteria for a ‘Misconduct in a Public Office’ prosecution....

      ... or is that just for cops who shag witnesses/victims of crime or bent councillors ??

      Perhaps removal of the legal prosecuting authority ability from the PO too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't worry

    this sorry affair must have happened in a far, far away land, one of those Dusty-stans where we send soldiers and charity workers to preach about democracy and teach them about the rule of law, etc. Those Stans that we strive not to call "3rd world" because it's politically incorrect and those poor sods stuck there might feel offended and / or jealous of 1st world countries, like ours that take pride in their centuries-long legal systems, etc, etc. Etc. indeed.

    but hey, on a cheerful note, last night we had a power cut, and not a 30-sec one, but one that took a good couple of hours to sort out. First thought, brexit come early. Second thought: Merry brexit everyone!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: don't worry

      They're called brownouts.

      They were common in the "good old days" - something to do with economic and social discontent...

      1. Corp-Rat

        Re: brownouts

        A brownout is when the voltage drops causing lights to dim and motors to slow down or stall.

        If the mains fails completely, it's a blackout or power cut.

        1. stungebag

          Re: brownouts

          I thought it was only a brown-out if you were standing in your plant room when it happened and just realised you'd never got round to re-enabling your UPS after its last maintenance.

      2. Cynic_999

        Re: don't worry

        A "brownout" is a period of low voltage, not a complete power cut.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: don't worry

      Meh. Try living in a village, 4 this year or maybe not as many as normal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: don't worry

        Ha - we average about one every 3 weeks in our rural location! Usually only for a minute or so, but there'll be at least 3 a year > 2 hours duration. Must be bad since SP Energy have actually been out a couple of times this month inspecting the overhead cables.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: don't worry

      Since most of our electricity generation capacity is now owned by other European Union members (France, Germany and Spain) or by that crowd of EU-philes north of the border (Scottish Power), you are probably right, AC - power cuts are just another way for them to punish us for daring to voice dissatisfaction with our lords and masters in Brussels.

      You would think, given how little value our markets provide and how little need they have for our products, that they would be glad to see us go. (Not that Macron intends to let us go - he's already said if he's not happy with whatever deal - or No Deal - we get, HE will veto it... and some ACs wonder why I don't like the EU!).

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: don't worry

        We will likely get more brown-outs after January when the electricity is delayed by border checks causing the current to slow down on its way from mainland Europe.

  3. JDPower Bronze badge

    I haven't been following this closely, but has the Post Office been prosecuted for the actions against the innocent people, if not will they, and if not why not?

    1. genghis_uk

      There was a suit but the Post Office only got fined £57.75M - 550 people brought the suit so, after lawyers fees etc. they get a pittance each

      For more:

      Also some great investigative journalism:

      1. Chris G

        It would be a start if Gareth Jenkins and Anne Chambers were charged and arrested for perjury prior to pursuing any others who knowingly perscuted innocent people to cover their own arses/failures.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Post Office fined £57.5M

        The excellent article you linked to also noted that the legal fees on the plaintiffs' side were about £22M, assuming that they were similar to the Post Office's. So that would need to be subtracted from the headline figure before the division by 550.

  4. Peter Prof Fox

    Make the film!

    Hollywood, where are you?

    Little people fighting back.

    Most media deaf, dumb and blind. -- Hurrah for exceptions, especially Private Eye

    And the best bit is they can portray these evil LIVING people where the facts are pretty straight forward.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "six people cleared of criminal convictions"

    Six people who have lived a decade and a half with a criminal conviction putting their lives in shadow.

    I cannot image what it must have been to live through that.

    Of course, now they must be very relieved, but I doubt very much that the Post Office is going to "redress" the situation in any satisfactory way.

    The baseline for me would be all the years of salary they did not get, plus at least half of that as penance.

    But it obviously won't happen.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: "six people cleared of criminal convictions"

      My parents ran a sub Post Office during part of this time. Just luck that they weren't convicted of something they didn't do and had no control over.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A real disgrace

    Listened to Radio 4 docu on this & was saddened that despite the overwhelming evidence, people deemed guilty, lost livelihoods, homes & lives.

    No compensation can truly make up for the time elapsed.

    Best wishes to all the innocents this season.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm trying to figure out why this has fallen off the front page already, after only 5 hours. Gee Reg, why did I have to see this first at Telegraph, and very accidentally at that?


    Ahh, interesting timing?

    "Trust chair to step down next April

    03rd Dec 2020

    Our Chair, Paula Vennells, has today let the Trust know that she will be stepping down from her role in April, at the end of the current financial year."

  8. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    There are people who should have criminal charges including attempt to prevent the course of justice, withholding evidence, misconduct in public office and probably a few more. None of them are sub-postmasters. But will it ever happen?

  9. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    A priest...

    She is Anglican priest?! WTF? She needs to work at Google, the home of evil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A priest...

      A bit like May, seems the evil hide behind the cloth.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A priest...

      According to her wikipedia entry, she is also a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), which was awarded in the 2019 New Years Honours list "for services to the Post Office and to charity".

      Makes you proud to be British.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: A priest...

        Is there some way we can campaign to have that removed?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: A priest...

          Yes there is a way to campaign:

          "You should contact the Cabinet Office at, naming the individual and explaining the reasons why you believe their honour should be forfeited."

          You could also try starting a petition to the government and see if you can get it raised in Parliament:-

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A priest...

          I note the CBE was awarded for her serices to the Post Office - now highly questionable - and charitable work of which I can find very little evidence. You would have thought that her biography at places such as Morrisons ( would mention such work, but all I can find (via is that she is a trustee (no more than that) of the Hymns Ancient and Modern Group.

      2. genghis_uk

        Re: A priest...

        I must apologise as this is the Mail but the idea is already mainstream:

    3. Dolvaran

      Re: A priest...

      The reason Hell is cold, is because it's impossible to get close to the fire for all the parsons...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A priest...

      Sounds like a public defrocking is called for. Ooo-err matron!

      If that isn't politically incorrect.

      Or even better because it isn't PC.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Justice? 16 years later?!?

    How many have committed suicide or had their families ruined by this?

  11. Jim Whitaker
    Thumb Up

    All credit to Computer Weekly, Private Eye and all the journalists who kept on at this. High quality investigative journalism.

  12. a_builder

    I would suggest writing to the HSE and asking for a corporate manslaughter investigation, reference the suicides, and copy CPS if you feel that strongly about it.

    PO will have a reverse burden of proof. They will have to demonstrate that they took responsible steps to mitigate any harms to the individuals. Otherwise they are guilty and the Directors then face jail time. You cannot push the burden downwards onto some poor H&S sod.

    The Met are too thick to be able to investigate this: not that it is difficult mind. And as it is perjury by a public body won't be interested either: they wouldn't want to disrupt their own daily perjury.

    It should be really easy to list out what was withheld from which proceedings and when: for goodness sakes the Judges have flagged most of this already.

    Then all you need to do is talk to Second Sight (who investigated and documented this for PO) who knew about this and when.

    Then go backwards through their emails.

    The thing is not to get bogged down in the outlier cases or trying to understand the whole thing in overview.

    Then go in and make it pretty clear that if they dob the Controlling Minds (relevant phrase in Corporate Manslaughter Act) in then they will be fine.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've always felt that it is too important for it to be a non-redundant process. Which is why in my businesses all accounting is shadowed by an independent person, either in-house or a separate contractor. There will always be small discrepancies the cause of which is well understood, but anything serious gets promptly investigated.

  14. onemark03

    Exonerated: First subpostmasters cleared of criminal convictions in Post Office Horizon scandal

    I predict that there will be as few apologies "as possible" in order to avoid any civil damages suits.

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