back to article Victims of IT scandal in UK postal service will get fresh compensation

The British government has announced a fresh scheme to compensate victims of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, which saw sub-postmasters wrongfully prosecuted for theft, false accounting and fraud because of errors in a Fujitsu-built finance system. The new scheme is set to be delivered directly by the Department for …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "has promised to pay £900 per claimant as part of reasonable legal fees to prepare their claim"

    Not generous at all -- it's about a single day of legal work in this kind of case. Given the circumstances, the entire legal costs should be covered, however much they rise to. There's no legitimate argument for the victims incurring any additional costs.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: "has promised to pay £900 per claimant as part of reasonable legal fees to prepare their claim"

      The local solicitor my friend was using was charging £350 per hour. That's like 3 hours of work. You can probably do some assessment whether the claim has any standing during that time, but to prepare it? Doubt it.

    2. Andrew Dancy

      Re: "has promised to pay £900 per claimant as part of reasonable legal fees to prepare their claim"

      However in this case most of the work has already been done, as this is for sub-postmasters who were part of the original Group Litigation Order. Also, most of them are already working with a particular firm who have been doing a lot of pro-bono work on this already, so that £900 multiplied by a reasonable number of sub-postmasters will actually go a long way.

      In case people are wondering the legal fees that were swallowed up by the original settlement didn't in the main go to the lawyers. The majority went to the litigation funder (essentially a lender who will lend money for big lawsuits in return for a chunk of the resulting settlement/award - it's an expensive business as if you lose the funder is on the hook for the costs on both sides).

    3. DBH

      Re: "has promised to pay £900 per claimant as part of reasonable legal fees to prepare their claim"

      A day.... I've seen QCs charging that for an hour

      They deserve the very best representation

      1. EnviableOne

        Re: "has promised to pay £900 per claimant as part of reasonable legal fees to prepare their claim"

        I had a QC charge more than that (£1200ph) to just be on a phone call and not even say anything

  2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Bring manglement to book

    What about serious punishment for those who, once they knew of problems, first didn't have a pair to let the system's users know, so they could report errors or, if they didn't like that, then stop the system entirely and at least revert to a manual system; and second, then went on to hide the errors.

    That there are problems is part of the 'fun' of IT. But if you don't collect evidence to help debug the system you just make it harder to solve. Knowing it's shit and that these postmasters were suffering is just egregiously inexcusable.

    Fine them heavily, then lock them up, as some in the US may say.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Bring manglement to book

      Absolutely this!

      From earlier articles, I believe that senior managers have been proven to have known that there were serious issues with Horizon - both within the Post Office and Fujitsu and yet they lied and were happy to see livelihoods and in some cases, lives, lost. Lied under oath, lets remember.

      Add up all the time the people impacted by this spent in jail. Then double it and share the time out between the senior staff.

      And whilst you're at it force them to sell their assets - after all they were effectively gained via illegal actions - and give the proceeds to the above people.

      This is one of, if not the worst miscarriage of justice the UK has ever seen and yet the real criminals continue to walk around free.

      Also as a side note - it's time private companies (PO, TFL etc) had powers to arrest and prosecute removed. They aren't the police.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Bring manglement to book

        Why should TfL lose the power to prosecute fare evaders?

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          Re: Bring manglement to book

          Because an independent third party who has all the facts must make the judgement whether or not a crime has been committed.

          Bad things happen when one entity is judge, jury and executioner. Or in control of the evidence that could prove innocence or guilt. This Post Office scandal clearly illustrates how that approach goes badly wrong.

          In the case of TfL, there are many possibilities where "fare evasion" might appear to have happened but actually hasn't: ticket goons not knowing TfL's rules or applying them incorrectly, broken Oyster cards (or readers), human error, passengers buying the wrong ticket in good faith, etc.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Bring manglement to book

            Yeah, but TfL cases are heard in the court. They are not judge, jury and executioner. So how's that different to, say, DFS taking me to court for not paying for my sofa, or getting a parking ticket from NCP?

            TfL revenue have no power of arrest, by the way. They work alongside e.g. the BTP who DO have a power of arrest. Did I misunderstand which bit of the OP was in error?

            1. Alex Brett

              Re: Bring manglement to book

              DFS can't pursue a criminal prosecution against you, only a civil case (i.e. they can't push a case in a criminal court where you could get sent to prison for not paying for your sofa, only get a civil court judgement and then try to enforce it etc)...

              1. The Axe

                Re: Bring manglement to book

                "DFS can't pursue a criminal prosecution against you, only a civil case"

                Nope. Anyone (including businesses) can open up a criminal prosecution. Has been done a number of times. Not often as not necessary. Once the criminal case has started the CPS will usually try to take over. DFS is unlikely to need to pursue a criminal case since they will just leave it to the police and CPS to handle.

                One case I can remember involved a police constable who head butted a driver in a road rage incident and then arresting the driver he assaulted and the constable claimed that he was the victim of an assault. Unfortunately the assault had been recorded on video. Police however refused to charge the constable. So the victim with some help opened a criminal case against the constable for the assault and false arrest. CPS took over. Victim won. The constable lost his job and was convicted. He also had to pay £20k in compensation after a further civil claim for damages. Look up the case of PC Mark Knights

                1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: Bring manglement to book @The Axe

                  I don't think you/re right. I think that the only body in the UK that can open a criminal prosecution is the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

                  Some bodies (like the TV Licensing Authority) get an automatic endorsement by the CPS for their actions, but it is the CPS that opens the criminal trial. I presume that the Post Office had a similar arrangement.

                  Your example of the policeman who committed an offence probably involved the IPCC (who aren't the Police), who manage complaints about the police, and if they felt there was an issue that needed to be progressed through court, would have passed it to the CPS for the actual court case. The CPS will take on cases that are referred to them from a number of sources.

                  As an individual or non-government organization, the only type of prosecution you can start is a civil one.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    Re: Bring manglement to book @The Axe


                    Any adult has the right to apply to a magistrates’ court to bring a private prosecution. However, there are a small number of offences where the prosecutor is restricted, or that can only be prosecuted if the Attorney General consents. The Act of Parliament which creates the offence will state whether this is the case.

                    The Crown Prosecution Service can take over any criminal prosecution, and may then carry out the prosecution. It may end (or ‘discontinue’) the prosecution if it does not believe that it should have been brought.

                    All prosecutions begin in a magistrates’ court, but may then be heard in the Crown Court. For some offences, such as theft, fraud, or assault occasioning actual bodily harm, the defendant can insist on a trial before a jury in the Crown Court. A prosecutor cannot insist on this, although they may give the court reasons why they should send the case to the Crown Court. Some offences, such as assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and rape, can only be tried in the Crown Court. Others, such as common assault or harassment without violence, can only be tried in a magistrates’ court.

                    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                      Re: Bring manglement to book @The Axe

                      Note the difference between "private prosecution" and "criminal prosecution".

                      You can only use a "private prosecution" to claim financial redress. You can claim for, say, lost income because of an injury, for example but not to try to convict someone of GBH. A magistrate does not have the power to imprison someone except in some very well defined areas, so a private prosecution cannot result in a custodial sentence.

                      The only time that this can appear to happen is if the magistrates court orders a financial penalty that is not honoured by the guilty party, at which time it becomes contempt of court, which is a criminal offence. But I think at that time, the case moves up to a crown court, and a real judge, not a magistrate.

                      You are right to say that the CPS can take over a private prosecution if the evidence points to a serious crime being committed, but I believe that it has to be referred to the CPS by someone like the magistrate. If that does not happen, then there is no guarantee that the CPS will pick the case up, and even if they do, it may not result in a criminal prosecution.

              2. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Bring manglement to book

                So you're saying that fare evasion should NOT be a criminal offence as it is at present under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 or the Transport Act 2000 (which covers National Rail rather than TfL)?

                Could you claim it was fare avoidance?

                TfL will always try to proceed under the Penalty Fare regulations unless they have gathered sufficient evidence, they believe, to prove that the fare evasion is repeated and deliberate.

                There is the option to proceed under the Fraud Act 2006.

                What do you do about people who try to print their own travel cards? Code their own mag stripes on expired paper tickets? That's criminal - it's not civil by any stretch of the imagination.

                DFS could pursue a criminal prosecution for fraud, for example, if they believed that a person was deliberately obtaining goods through fraudulent credit applications (though it's likely that their credit provider would do this).

                DFS could bring a civil case for breach of contract.

                The Post Office HAD NO SPECIAL STANDING IN LAW at the time of the original prosecutions. They brought private prosecutions (in England) just the same as any other legal body. The CPS has oversight of all private prosecutions and can intervene to take over a prosecution and either continue or dismiss (in the case of insufficient evidence) the case. The Post Office effectively presented the CPS with evidence that was inaccurate, and in doing so gamed the system to achieve their own ends - a criminal conviction. Make no mistake - the Post Office should be up on trial for what they've done. I'm just trying to correct the impression that somehow they did this in some subversive fashion using special case status - they've never had that, TfL doesn't have that, Associated British Ports doesn't have that etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bring manglement to book

        > This is one of, if not the worst miscarriage of justice the UK has ever seen

        There's some pretty stiff competition in that department.

    2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Bring manglement to book

      Fine them heavily, then lock them up, as some in the US may say.

      Putting people into universities of crime at public expense is of doubtful utility. They've cost the public vast amounts of money, so spending more on them is not an obvious approach, especially as they have not been shown to be violent/a physical danger to the public.

      I'm in favour of them having the benefits of their criminal activity removed (Ill gotten gains) - a financial arrangement that removes padded pension schemes, bonuses, inflated salaries etc, and furthermore being saddled with a debt that is undischargeable by bankruptcy, but which can be paid of by a reasonable attachment/garnishment on their subsequent income until the debt (to society) is paid off. I don't think it'll happen though. Being forced to live on an income that is below median ought to be the minimum.

      Depriving people capable of earning an honest wage of their liberty has two costs: you have to house them securely, and they aren't paying taxes. It should be a last resort once other methods have been tried and failed - the intent of the justice system should be about rehabilitation - it ends up being cheaper, and you get productive members of society out of it.

      Surveys of criminals show that the incentive that works is not gaol, but being caught. These have been caught. They should have no gains from their criminality, and the victims should be compensated in full. Anything else is immoral.

      1. Jonathon Green

        Re: Bring manglement to book

        “ I'm in favour of them having the benefits of their criminal activity removed (Ill gotten gains) - a financial arrangement that removes padded pension schemes, bonuses, inflated salaries etc, and furthermore being saddled with a debt that is undischargeable by bankruptcy, but which can be paid of by a reasonable attachment/garnishment on their subsequent income until the debt (to society) is paid off. I don't think it'll happen though. Being forced to live on an income that is below median ought to be the minimum.”

        If this was your regular corporate fraud or theft I might be inclined to go along with that, but what the PO and Fujitsu have done goes way beyond that. Their actions (or inactions) have deprived their victims of not just their livelihoods but their actual lives and their liberty. There is no conceivable financial penalty or recompense which can come close to being appropriate for that. It calls for more, and deprivation of liberty for an extended period for a significant period, even with the associated costs to society seems like an absolute minimum.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bring manglement to book

          Vengeance is never a good course of action.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bring manglement to book

            I wonder if a case for Corporate Manslaughter could be made from the cases of the 2 sub-post masters who killed themselves?

          2. Elongated Muskrat

            Re: Bring manglement to book

            This is straying into the criminological discussion about the rehabilitative ideal.

            In short, should prison be a deterrent, a punishment, or a means of rehabilitation so that the offender returns to being a productive member of society and doesn't re-offend?

            It's not a simple question, and anyone giving a simple answer is giving a wrong one.

            Locking people up for vengeance isn't an answer, as it doesn't solve anything.

            In some cases, removing someone from society and permanently depriving them of their liberty is the only way to protect wider society (whole life sentences for serial killers, for example). There are still ethical issues with these, as they do not cater for any rehabilitation, you cannot lock someone up for a crime they have not yet committed, or "thought crime", etc.

            In other cases, imprisonment is clearly not productive for any involved. Minor crimes committed out of a need to survive and extreme poverty, for example, or crimes committed due to drug addiction. Prison almost always makes life worse for such people, and when they are released, the reasons for committing their crimes are often increased.

            And then we have the example of the US prison system, which is basically a loophole for slavery; when slavery was "abolished" in the US, there was the clause "except for punishment" (or equivalent). Prison labour in the US accounts for a significant part of their economy, they have the highest per-capita prison population, and highest absolute prison population of any nation, and the racial make-up of the prison population is wildly distorted compared to the overall ethnic make-up of the country. Draw your own conclusions.

            My feeling here, for the people responsible for the Horizon fiasco, is that a custodial sentence of several years would be appropriate, along with confiscation and sale of assets (proceeds going to the treasury, which is the same pool of money that the compensation would come from), and a lifetime ban from holding any board-level position in any business. Maybe they could get jobs as sub-postmasters to make ends meet.

            "The people responsible" here is also a pretty wide remit. It should be everyone who knew there was an issue and covered it up, both inside the organisation, and outside, including those at Fujitsu-Siemens, and any politicians who got involved (and I'll bet you there are political connections here). In the end, this is not only corporate manslaughter, fraud, false accounting, and perjury, but there's bound to be an element of corruption, and "conspiracy to commit ..." as well.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bring manglement to book

            >Vengeance is never a good course of action.

            "I believe in justice

            I believe in vengeance

            I believe in getting the bastard"

            - Vengeance, New Model Army

          4. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Bring manglement to book

            Bloody sight better than impunity IMHO.

    3. Jonathon Green

      Re: Bring manglement to book

      I believe that in the country Fujitsu was founded in there is a traditional way for individuals who have brought shame upon themselves, or let down those who look to them for leadership to demonstrate that they accept responsibility for their actions…

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Bring manglement to book

        They like cuts, they do.

    4. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Bring manglement to book

      As The Post Office was and still is a statutory public/government institution… the following is suggested. At least for the Post Office IT/Management personnel who know about this.

    5. Bowlers

      Re: Bring manglement to book

      If they had found a pair and owned up it would have made a great WHO ME story.

  3. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Why BEIS ?

    So, is this money for compensation coming from BEIS (ie public purse) or somewhere else?

    The only place it should be from is the upper echelons of the post office and Fujitsu. The entire senior management and legal team of the PO and Fujitsu knowingly involved in this should be in court - have their assets seized, nice houses and cars impounded, etc,. and made to pay compensation and publically disgraced, like the sub-PM's were. Then they should be jailed where due, barred from holding any senior public body figure again, and Fujitsu barred from undertaking any public sector work. Ever. The only ones who should be spared should be a few whistle blowers who may have stood up and said "hang on, instead of all our employees being crooks, maybe there is something wrong with the system?"

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Why BEIS ?

      Dang I started to write the same reply but got distracted and by the time I hit submit you'd already said it. Eloquently.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Why BEIS ?

      The Post Office refused to pay, and made it clear that they would drag it out in court for years.

      Many of their victims are older persons so the government made the decision to pay it themselves and then reclaim the money from the Post Office later on. This way the victims get the compensation quicker.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why BEIS ?

        The Post Office would, could and did drag it out in court for years. In 2019 when the privately funded litigation won £57M (from which reports noted roughly half went to the litigation firm funding the case, and the other half to the 550 subpostmasters who had joined the case), the judge noted that the Post Office "has resisted timely resolution of this Group Litigation whenever it can". The Post Office was estimated to have spent over £20M on their own lawyers.

        Again, that happened more than three years ago.

        1. h3nb45h3r

          Re: Why BEIS ?

          The cost of the Post Office legal representation for the Group Litigation Order (Post Office v Bates) in 2019 was actually £117m, not £20m

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why BEIS ?

        The Post Office would be insolvent if it had to pay proper compensation. Our taxes are on the hook for this, however the money is paid. As to the cost of raising the dead, perhaps the Church could show its worth.

    3. Elongated Muskrat

      Re: Why BEIS ?

      It's a general human trait to project your own motivations and moral framework onto others, and with this in mind, it says an awful lot about the senior management types here. When they saw that their systems were supposedly picking up financial fraud on a large scale within sub post-offices, their thoughts were that they had uncovered fraud that they previously didn't know about. Their mindset is that everyone will attempt to defraud their employer if they think they can get away with it.

      It makes one wonder whether they hold their positions simply because they, themselves, are good at "getting away with it".

      They should all have their past histories examined in detail by the police. I'm willing to bet that this would turn up at least one case of serious criminal wrongdoing.

  4. MCUK

    The suffering these postmasters endured was beyond belief. Compensation is highest priority but the accountability of those who continued with prosecutions despite questionable evidence must immediately follow this.

  5. JMiles

    Totally inadequate

    Next step, private prosecutions against the individuals that are culpable for this - name them, shame them, make them pay even if it means personal ruin. There's no excuse, there must be consequences and there must be deterrents for this type of behaviour in future.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge


    At least justice has been served and the boss at the time took full responsibility for the failings.

    Pardon...? Promoted? CBE? Rich as hell? Still not taking any responsibility? Wicked Witch of the West?

    The great British business models "we need to pay well to get good quality management" and "the boss is paid to take responsibility" have been shown to be complete fallacies.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Justice

      You forgot Priest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Justice

        You missed out the part from that link where it's claimed that in 2019 Vennells became a non-executive board member of the Cabinet Office.

        I also feel it's relevant to post yet again the comment made in the House of Lords by Baroness Hayter about another former Fujitsu CEO, Michael Keegan:

        "Michael Keegan was Fujitsu’s chief executive when the company was telling the Post Office that Horizon was fine and when its staff were even appearing in court as prosecution witnesses against the sub-postmasters. He does not appear to have suffered any penalty and indeed is now a Crown representative at the Cabinet Office, where he oversees the Government’s relationships with suppliers."

        (Keegan is also the husband of Gillian Keegan, the current Education Secretary.)

        Anyone know why it's taking so long to assign the blame in this scandal?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Justice

          "Anyone know why it's taking so long to assign the blame in this scandal?"

          Think you've answered your own question with the facts you give in your comment.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Justice

            I think that was irony.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Justice

      Ah yes, but in this case to was the Boris Johnson type of 'responsibility' - i.e. "I accept full responsibility for ... . Now, let's just forget about it all and move on without any consequences for me or my friends."

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Been covered by the above commentards

    But still makes me bloody angry.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fresh compensation

    not for those who killed themselves.

    p.s. has anyone been punished, or was it a x-years long, force-extracted 'uh-oh... sorry....!'

  9. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    I am making a prediction

    -> A statutory public inquiry is currently investigating the scandal, calling witnesses from both the Post Office and Fujitsu

    At the end of it the postmasters will be treated to some big words from some bigwig: lessons must be learned and we must ensure this never happens again. But we don't think it is in anybody's interest for anyone at the Post Office or Fujitsu to be held to account.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: I am making a prediction

      "...lessons must be learned"

      I fucking hate that phrase with a passion. Might as well say "We don't care. Never did. Never will. Fuck the victims. Carry on."

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I am making a prediction

        They did learn the lesson that they need to say "lessons must be learned" in order to appear sincere, and I think that when you realise this, there's a lesson to be learned for future.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am making a prediction

      Funnily enough, this announcement comes *just the day before* a special hearing into compensation progress at the inquiry. Last week Phase 2 of 7 was completed (the timetable runs through to next summer).

      Read the inquiry counsel's version of the story so far at p110ff of the transcript from last week

      As a hint, the evidence of the deputy development manager on the project at F*** ICL assessed ( the EPOS module code so:

      "it was so bad. It was beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Even in the 25/30 years since that project, I’ve never seen anything like that before. Some of the stuff that we found buried in the code was unbelievable. There was unreachable code… It was a mess."

      This is the sort of thing that the revised PACE gives the benefit of the doubt. *Coincidentally*, along with the Blair government's wider programme to destroy^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hreform the constitution, PACE s.69, requiring the prosecution to demonstrate the proper operation of a computer system whose output was adduced in evidence, was repealed just before Horizon was rolled out.

  10. jmch Silver badge

    Legal costs???

    "...received £43 million ($52 million) plus legal costs in a settlement. But the bulk of the money was consumed by the costs of funding the case."

    I'm struggling to understand this. Is there a subtle legal difference between " the costs of funding the case" and "legal costs"? Because to a simple layman it sure seems like it *should* be the same thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Legal costs???

      As an IT Manager in a law firm (albeit it one that doesn't do that much criminal work; crime doesn't pay...) my immediate feeling is that it is pretty much the same thing. Up to a certain point.

      For instance, just in strictly legal costs the courts opinion of how much work things take and the actual work required is often significantly at variance, especially when it comes to neatly indexed and organised court bundles. (which are the paperwork of all the evidence for the prosecution, defence and judges). If you have thousands of documents from different sources (which is likely in this case given the case spans decades) then producing checking and distributing identical bundles can take hundreds of hours, and judges who never have to do this have a tendency to decide the actual cost is overpriced and decide that the cost recoverable is more akin to the postage costs of the bundles than the staff time required to create or organise them.

      Additionally, if you used a credit card or bank loan to pay the legal fees then while the legal fees would be paid, you wouldn't get paid the interest on the loan payments.

      It's also theoretically possible that you could have hired private investigators to peruse a dozen possible avenues of which only a handful of which actually produced anything, and so only some costs were found to be payable by the opposition.

      Additionally, the cost of the defendants time is considered to the courts to be rated as being worth nothing so if you'd spent years proving your innocence then expect a friendly smile, "well done" and a few complements and no financial compensation for your time.

      These are the things that immediately occur of the top of my head and are believed correct going by bitter muttering heard over the years, but I suppose I could have gotten the wrong end of the stick or the situation might have changed. Additionally, somebody working in this area of law would probably know other things.

  11. Terry 6 Silver badge


    The Post Office Horizon saga is one of the biggest scandals to hit public-sector IT management in the UK in the last 20 years and has been subject to a BBC Panorama investigation, with journalist Nick Wallis revealing evidence of the extent of the cover-up.

    1.) It was Computer Weekly that raised it and Private Eye that chased it for years. Doggedly refusing to let go.

    2.) Biggest fucking scandal and miscarriage of justice in modern legal history not just the small pond of the IT world.

    1. Andrew Dancy

      Re: Bollocks

      Most of the Private Eye articles were actually written by, or with the support of, Nick Wallis. Incidentally, his website at should be required reading and I'd urge people to buy his book as well (sales from the book go to a charity that supports the affected sub-postmasters).

      Karl Flinders at Computer Weekly has also been on the case since the early days and deserves a lot of credit. Also, although this will probably pain people to read, the Daily Mail have been very strong on the campaign for many years (they actually have a surprisingly strong track record for old-fashioned campaigning journalism, even if it's often drowned out by the crazy)

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks

        and has been subject to a BBC Panorama investigation, From the article.

        And also I did say Comp Weekly. In my post.

        1. h3nb45h3r

          Re: Bollocks

          Rebecca Thomson was the first journalist to write about the Post Office Horizon Scandal. Nick Wallis is clearly a power house that help push it more into the public eye, but it's shocking that it's not known about more. I know lots of people who work at Fujitsu and this isn't mention in the company, some of those staff have been with Fujitsu when they were ICL (ICL was 80% owned by Fujitsu).

          Nick and Rebecca have a podcast that is covering the inquiry

          1. Scott 53

            Re: Bollocks

            I know lots of people who work at Fujitsu and this isn't mention in the company

            I think if you worked at Fujitsu, mentioning this might be a career-limiting move. I remember reading Private Eye at my desk at lunchtime once and someone having a quiet word with me to mention that my employer had featured in it recently and it might be prudent to read it at home.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bollocks

        Also, although this will probably pain people to read, the Daily Mail have been very strong on the campaign for many years (they actually have a surprisingly strong track record for old-fashioned campaigning journalism, even if it's often drowned out by the crazy)

        Which is quite unsurprising given that the Daily Mail specialises in highlighting outrageous outcomes, whereas the Guardian tends to concentrate more on highlighting outrageous processes.

  12. Sparkus

    and when are the people responsible

    going to be held accountable?

  13. vogon00

    The heads that roll..

    ...will inevitably be the wrong ones, and will most likely to be the heads of the UK General Public - because we'll end up footing the bill somehow.

    I have no problem with the victims of this awful scandal being compensated, preferable *hugely*, for what they went through and suffered. What I do have a problem with is the lack of any punishment for the people in command* of the PO/Fujitsu whilst this was being perpetrated. It sends the message that corporate culture *CAN* do what it wants with no comebacks. IMO, the people who were in command, especially those who advocated continuing along the prosecution route once 'reasonable doubt' had clearly been established, need to be the ones providing the compensation (Not the taxpayer) or receiving substantial punishment themselves. Fine the fuckers, fine them hard, and fine them publicly, ensuring *they* bear the legal costs**. Anyone at senior manager level and especially above needs a financial shagging personally without the benefit of Director's Liability insurance. I hope the outcome of the investigation is that the PO people responsible are identified and judged to have acted criminally (Which I think is enough to 'void' their directors insurance, right?) and thus open the route to 'criminal bankruptcy' and seizure of personal assets.

    That's the dream, anyway...I doubt anything like the above, or indeed any punishment of the people responsible at all, will actually happen. Oh yeah - stop calling it an 'IT scandal' - it's not an IT issue. I.T was the cause, but the scandal was all human-led/driven.

    * There is a difference between being in 'command' and being in 'control' - they are two very different things which should be drummed into ANYONE undertaking a business qualification.

    ** Or at least ensure the costs of the case aren't borne by the people supposedly receiving the compo - they should be receiving everything awarded to them without tax, and without having to pay the 'legal levy'.

    Rant ends. I hope the inquiry does identify the culprits and bar them from any further corporate activity, the bunch of cunts...

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Dont get your hopes up

    with this one.

    I'm pretty sure the PO/fuckitso lawyers will drag out any inquiries for at least another 10 years and the government will be happy to let them do so

    Reasons are 2 fold: all the affected postmasters will be getting old... and a fair few will have passed away naturally and be unable to sue.

    And second one is much the same as the first : the people at the PO/fuckitso who made the decisions to charge the postmasters despite knowing that horizons was faulty will also be getting old... and retired and possibly cleared off abroad, so they wont be charged with anything because "It wont be in the public interest to charge such old people with crimes"

    And as a postscript.

    The police had the decision to charge people with crimes taken away from them and handed to the CPS because the police couldn't be trusted to give out all the evidence in a case, plus it was a conflict of interest that the police arrested, charged and prosecuted criminals when they had an interest in getting a conviction.....

    The PO told defence lawyers for the postmasters that the horizons data was correct when they knew damn well it wasn't

    1. SloppyJesse

      Re: Dont get your hopes up

      > The PO told defence lawyers for the postmasters courts that the horizons data was correct


      And they repeatedly refused to provide detail level data to justify their position.

      During the BBC radio serialisation one of the postmasters was reduced to trying to add up till rolls to understand where the issue was and even when he pointed directly to transactions that appeared twice they denied there was an issue.

      Given many of the Postmasters were jailed for false accounting, maybe the P.O. board should face the same charge? They knew that their accounting system was incorrect, afterall.

  15. hoofie

    This was all understood

    To be fair, if you read various books on this whole scandal, the financial outcome and the money taken to pay fees was made very, very clear at the beginning. The only way this was ever going to happen was via a litigation funder who would shoulder the risk.

    The court cases were very risky and the Post Office did their utmost to run the clock down so the plantiffs would run out of money. At one point they had more or less runout of money - if the Post Office lawyers found out they may well have sought to keep it going so the legal actions would have been abandoned.

    However - the main issue is still the absolutely terrible miscarriages of justice - innocent people went to jail or committed suicide over this and the contract between the postmaster and the Post Office [which many never saw] was such that any deficit was automatically your problem. Also there was no protocol or mechanism or any analysis of the discrepancies : computer says you owe us 20,000 quid. Pay up - and when you do we will prosecute you for False Accounting since the system was designed is such as way as to set people up [as theft was funnily enough almost impossible to prove in court due to the lack of evidence].

    It's an absolute trainwreck of deceit and injustice. There are senior figures who were in the Post Office and Fujitsu who should be in the Criminal Court dock about this. They stood up in Court and said Horizon is infallible plus the various Acts had the provision that computers basically could not be wrong unless the Defence could prove otherwise; which couldn't be done anyway as the Defendants had no way of doing so.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "In April last year, the Court of Appeal in England quashed 39 convictions that were obtained by the Post Office's in-house lawyers who had ignored their own barristers' advice."

    Does anybody know if the Law Society have done anything about this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lawyers

      Does anybody know if the Law Society have done anything about this?

      The Law Society is the union for Solicitors. What would you expect a union to do about it?

    2. Andrew Dancy

      Re: Lawyers

      The Solicitors Regulation Authority (who are the body who actually regulate solicitors - the Law Society are more like a trade body or union) are investigating, but their work is likely to be kept completely under the radar until they are ready to refer cases to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

      Moreover if there are potential criminal charges then that will delay things as the SRA will have to let any criminal case go first.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fury said to a mouse

    come let us go to law

    I shall prosecute you

    I will judge and I will be jury

    said cunning old fury

    I'll ty the whole case and condemn you to death.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when are Adam Crozier, Paula Vennells etc going to jail?...

    I am still waiting for the senior management to be sent to jail for what they did to those post-masters. Not just lives ruined but people who committed suicide. At the very least Crozier, Vennells etc should be charged with negligent manslaughter. Apart form all the other serious crimes they committed.

    There will only be justice and the rule of law when "The Great and the Good" are held to exactly the same legal standards as the "Little People".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6 years in prison...compensation? £900.

    FJ as a company needs to burn to the ground as a lesson to others.

  20. hairydog

    How do they get away with it?

    If a member of the public was to knowingly and provably tell deliberate lies in a court case, they would be prosecuted for perjury.

    Why has the Post Office not been subject to the same sanction?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Line nicked from the Evening Standard

    Paula Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office until 2019, was awarded a CBE for ‘services to the Post Office and to charity’.

    So, even when all this was unraveling, this happened. WTF, just WTF.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Line nicked from the Evening Standard

      This is all in line with the general practice of the Great and The Good moving from one disastrous role in the private sector to another in the public Crash a major retailer one month, run a major govt agency the next.

  22. bregister

    I use this as the first lesson I give when teaching the realities of computer technology.

    You can't trust the computer,

    you can't trust the people that use the computer

    and you can't even trust yourself using a computer.

    We are fallible beings and that fallability is only magnified by our creations, especially computers.

  23. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    !!! - RANT ALERT - !!! 'I fully understand'

    > Grant Shapps said: "I am acutely aware of the pain and suffering that these postmasters and their families have been through as part of the Horizon IT scandal. Today's compensation scheme will ensure these trailblazing postmasters who did so much to uncover this injustice receive the compensation they deserve."

    I'm a bit tired of politicians claiming to fully understand or be aware of someone else's pain. Shapps, I suspect, knows nothing about being literally suicidal because of a prosecution for something of which he is innocent, but no one will listen. I do not know whether he has ever lost his home, his career, his marriage or his reputation due to false criminal prosecution (but I guess not). (You cannot compensate any of them for the loss of reputation, career etc. they suffered.)

    My test for this is (readers of a squeamish nature should look away now): Make a fist, that is approximately the size of a newborn baby's head. When Mr Shapps can pass something that size he can claim to understand someone else's pain, until then, no. The most surreal experience of my life was when I strained an adductor muscle (inside of my left thigh) and had to have physiotherapy. The Physiotherapist told me to say when it was too painful and she'd stop. I lay there in (male) agony wondering how I could possibly say it was too painful when she had just returned to work from maternity leave.

    The injustice was known and ignored by senior PO and Fujitsu staff while prosecutions were ongoing. The PO prosecutors must have known that there were many hundreds of cases, all involving the Horizon IT system, and not one of them queried it? This is gross mismanagement.


    1. Elongated Muskrat

      Re: !!! - RANT ALERT - !!! 'I fully understand'

      The most important thing to know about Grant Shapps, is that he is the man Alan Partridge looks up to in the most recent series of the "From the Oasthouse" podcast.

      When a parody of the most awful kind of human being looks up to someone, rather than down on them, well...

  24. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    What really burns me

    about all this is that in my line of business (aerospace manufacturing) we have a rule that anyone can challenge or stop production if they dont like the results, or have a query about the results.

    So from Jim the operator through me to the QA manager , anyone can stop the machines at any time to sort a quality issue out on the basis its cheaper to fix a problem before it escapes to the customer or gets to an aircraft.

    The boss does not like it, but it was his plan for quality ..

    The guys at fuckitso were altering data on the horizons system when challenged by the postmasters yet no one said "STOP", the QA guys must have been aware of the issues and brought them up with the manglement , yet they did'nt say "STOP" and the manglement at fuckitso were happily going "Its fine.. its fine" even in court when they had e.mails saying the systems fucked.

    The PO lawyers were seeing the results from postmasters eg week 1 25k in takings, week 2 25k in takings , week 3 75k in takings, week 4 25k in takings, and yet the post office records show only 100K turned up in the po accounts that month. therefore 50K must have been stolen rather than 'hold on... double check week 3"

    So as far as I'm concerned both fuckitso and PO manglement should be in the dock in front of a judge and jury explaining why they sent innocent people to jail when they knew the evidence in the case was bollocks.

    Postscript: If we were caught falsifying records like that, we'd lose all the aerospace business in a heartbeat and more than likely have the costs of replacing everything we've made over the past couple of years..... then bankruptcy... .... check out when BNFL Sellerfield did that sort of thing with the MOX fuel pellets they were supplying to various customers...

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: What really burns me

      Years ago my late father was doing quality control for a factory supplying coats to Marks and Sparks. It was pretty much their only customer. They had very strict quality rules to follow.

      Dad would reject stuff that didn't match the M and S criteria. His bosses put him under a lot of pressure to cheat. He wouldn't. So then they started putting reject coats back in the bundles ( at the bottom of course, because M&S' quality inspectors would never think of looking there would they ).

      They lost the contract. And went belly up.

      Dad had warned them- he didn't want to lose his job after all. But they were greedy and arrogant. They thought they could outsmart their customer.

      What makes the Fujitsu/Post Office different is that the PO actually conspired with Fujitsu against their own postmasters to cover up this appalling failure. Maybe, since there have been so many big IT project failures, it's because there's something about the way that big IT contracts work- no one on either side prepared to admit it's gone off the rails?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like