British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

Add on Corporate Manslaughter -
Sentencing Council Guidelines wrote:"Determining the seriousness of the offence

By definition, the harm and culpability involved in corporate manslaughter will be very serious. Every case will involve death and corporate fault at a high level. The court should assess factors affecting the seriousness of the offence within this context by asking:

(a) How foreseeable was serious injury? Usually, the more foreseeable a serious injury was, the graver the offence. Failure to heed warnings or advice from the authorities, employees or others or to respond appropriately to ‘near misses’ arising in similar circumstances may be factors indicating greater foreseeability of serious injury.

(b) How far short of the appropriate standard did the offender fall? Where an offender falls far short of the appropriate standard, the level of culpability is likely to be high. Lack of adherence to recognised standards in the industry or the inadequacy of training, supervision and reporting arrangements may be relevant factors to consider.

(c) How common is this kind of breach in this organisation? How widespread was the non-compliance? Was it isolated in extent or, for example, indicative of a systematic departure from good practice across the offender’s operations or representative of systemic failings? Widespread non-compliance is likely to indicate a more serious offence.

(d) Was there more than one death, or a high risk of further deaths, or serious personal injury in addition to death? The greater the number of deaths, very serious personal injuries or people put at high risk of death, the more serious the offence."
And also:
Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - Perverting the course of justice is a serious criminal offence that can carry a sentence of up to life in prison and whilst life imprisonment is unlikely, it is unusual for the court to impose a penalty other than a prison sentence.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

From Mr Wallis on 'X' -
A reminder, if you have a kindle and you want a beach read this summer, The Great Post Office Scandal is currently available for 99p on kindle via Amazon for the next 50 hours only.


GOxmylRXYAIEVDm.jpg
A follower commented that
"You don't need a Kindle device. You can install "Kindle" software on your phone, PC, Mac. "

I leave it for members to investigate.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by Number-O-Ne »

norvic wrote: 31 May 2024 02:00
A follower commented that
"You don't need a Kindle device. You can install "Kindle" software on your phone, PC, Mac. "

I leave it for members to investigate.
That's correct. I have Kindle app on my Samsung phone, and my wife has it on her iPad. A free Amazon account is all you need.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by JonEboy »

And if you miss the Kindle offer, then buy the book.

If you sit on the beach reading the hardback, people will definitely talk to you about it. And if you've not already read the book, I would urge you to do so, it's a fabulous read. And buying it supports both Nick and the victims' fund.
The Great Post Office Scandal by Nick Wallis
The Great Post Office Scandal by Nick Wallis
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by emason »

In case you missed it, this legal article from The Times:
IMG_20240602_0001.jpg
IMG_20240602_0002.jpg
Best wishes,
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

norvic wrote: 27 May 2024 05:34 As they said once before:
GOTCHA!
A FORMER Post Office lawyer who refused to appear at the Horizon scandal inquiry has been tracked down by The Sun on Sunday to her £2 million home in Australia.
Jane MacLeod, 62, was lead counsel during Alan Bates’s High Court battle against the organisation.

She rejected the chance to appear in-person or via video link for the crucial inquiry - even after officials offered to pay for her flights and accommodation.

Instead she has submitted a lengthy witness statement in which she apologised to Horizon victims for taking decisions which prolonged their “distress” .

But insists she has still seen no evidence that the software had been misused to create bogus losses.

Mrs MacLeod’s chic modern townhouse in Sydney is complete with heated rooftop swimming po

When approached about her no-show at the inquiry Mrs MacLeod replied “no comment” before going back inside.

Her disgraced former boss Paula Vennells was grilled over three tortuous days in London this week over the wrongful convictions of hundreds of subpostmasters.

Australian-born Mrs MacLeod was the Post Office general counsel between 2015 and 2019.

She left the UK in 2020 with her company director husband, Greg, and two adult sons at the height of the Covid lockdowns.

On Friday, Mrs Vennells blamed 62-year-old Mrs MacLeod for pursuing an aggressive defence against Mr Bates and 554 other former sub postmasters to try to force them to abandon their High Court action over the Horizon computer system.

Postmasters have branded her decision not to appear as “despicable”.

Law firm hired to defend shameless Post Office bosses against Mr Bates was paid £37.5million while postmasters suffered

Inquiry Chair Sir Wyn said it was possible her refusal was a criminal offence but that seeking a conviction in her absence and then extradition from Australia would delay the inquiry too long.

The BBC has reported that Mrs MacLeod may have hidden damning evidence found when the Post Office commissioned consultants Deloitte to investigate how Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon software was open to abuse.

Known as Project Bramble, the draft report is said to expose how the Post Office knew their defence against Mr Bates’ claims was untrue.

While Post Office lawyers continued to insist in the High Court that Horizon was a sealed system, Deloitte had written in Bramble that a “malicious actor” at Fujitsu could alter postmasters’ accounts without leaving a trace.
The BBC has tracked her down, but she’s saying nowt.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/czdd33qd1j0o
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by LoneStarState »

Just wanted to extend my thanks to this particular thread and Norvic for posting ongoing updates.

Browsing through these posts is where I found out about Nick Wallis's "tour" dates and noticed that the upcoming Guildford event still had ticket. It was highly worthwhile to attend and also hear personal words from Seema Misra, her husband Davinder as well as another former sub-postmaster Chirag Sidhpura at the same talk.
Post Office Scandal Talk 2.jpg
Got myself the hardback copy on the night.
Post Office Scandal Cover 2.jpg
Post Office Scandal Inside Page 2.jpg
All down to this thread so thanks again. Will continue to keenly follow.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

You’re most welcome.

You’ll have noticed that I wasn’t posting much during this spring and summer sessions of the Inquiry.

This is largely because I had a couple of short holidays (including now!) and was busy in the house, garden and business.

But also I reckon that after the tv drama a huge amount of publicity was generated and anybody who really wanted to keep up would have been signed up to Nick Wallis’s blog and/or Twitter feed so the previous level of activity to keep this on the ‘front page’ was no longer necessary.

But the saga is not over: who in their right mind would only offer the principals in this (eg Bates and Castleton) such pittances in redress, that’s before you get to compensation?!
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

Tom Witherow of The Times has reminded us that the paywall for that publication is off for the weekend!

Here are (mostly) his stories previously hidden, re the Horizon Scandal. (In reverse chronological order, with a couple of recent ones added at the end).

Paula Vennells: ‘Smoking gun’ email shows she knew of Horizon concerns in 2013

The key moments from Paula Vennells at the Post Office inquiry

Paula Vennells clung on to ‘plum’ NHS role after Horizon scandal

Post Office ‘held gun to my head to agree deal after husband’s suicide’

Will the Post Office inquiry deliver justice at last?

Recordings prove Post Office knew of IT problems years earlier

Horizon ruined lives, so why is government still using Fujitsu?

Post Office could change accounts remotely, claims whistleblower

Post Office investigations team that refused to play by the rules

Revealed: the Fujitsu boss who said Horizon was ‘like Fort Knox’

Post Office called Horizon suspects ‘negroid types’ as late as 2013

Over 250 Post Office scandal victims have died without justice

Pictured: the Post Office scandal victims who died without justice

Post Office spent twice as much on legal fees as on compensation

Alan Bates: I’ll crowdfund legal fight against Post Office chiefs if I have to

Ministers discussed plot to sack Paula Vennells as Post Office boss in 2014

Post Office board ‘withheld evidence in hope Horizon scandal would go away’

Only for another 6 hours, so copy and read later maybe - remember the 'reader view' icon

Image
Example from the Telegraph
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

norvic wrote: 13 Feb 2024 03:08 More than 1,000 subpostmasters could have used second faulty Post Office system

Computer Weekly reports that the system before Horizon was also full of faults and that many SPMs could have suffered losses.
More than 1,000 subposmasters could have used the Post Office’s Capture software, as more details emerge about how they were blamed for unexplained shortfalls on the system.

Following the recent ITV drama about the Post Office Horizon scandal, a growing number of former subpostmasters and former Post Office employees are coming forward with stories of problems they had with the Capture software, which pre-dated the controversial Horizon system.

Described by users as a “glorified spreadsheet”, Capture was a standalone software used to computerise accounting in branches.

According to one source, IT supplier Unisys provided hardware with the Capture software pre-installed, but the IT firm was not involved in the development of the software.

Unisys has not responded to multiple requests for information, but a source told Computer Weekly that from 1994 the number of systems shipped by Unisys was “in the high hundreds, if not over 1,000”. The software was introduced in 1992, so the system could have been more widely used.

The source said that Unisys ran a proof of concept of software which didn’t work, missing out on the contract as a result, and added that the Capture software was likely developed at a Post Office centre known as iTFarnborough.

==============

Rupert Lloyd Thomas, an IT expert who worked at the Post Office for 27 years, said that if the high hundreds, or even more than 1,000, PCs with Capture installed were sent to subpostmasters by Unisys from 1995, it could have been much more widely used.

“It was introduced three years earlier and the software could also be bought separately and installed on a home PC,” he added. “The total number of subpostmasters using Capture must have been north of 1,000.”

He said he wants to find a copy of the software so it can be investigated: “Somewhere out there is a floppy disk sitting in somebody’s cupboard with Capture on it, because it would reveal who the publisher was. It is important we get to the bottom of this because the people affected are older.”

Kevan Jones MP, said: “The Post Office and Unisys should come forward about what they know about the Capture system and its roll out. The figures suggest that there could be at least 1,000 people who had losses related to Capture.”
Computer Weekly has now established that Unisys not only installed the Capture software but actually wrote it, something the company has been unable to establish from its own records.
Computer Weekly has previously revealed that IT supplier Unisys pre-installed the software on hardware for users, but can now reveal that the IT supplier also wrote the software.

Following a government tender notice in 1994, a Horizon project statement of service requirements (SSR) was issued to shortlisted companies. It described the functional requirements of the project, such as migrating from existing automated systems, including the Capture software.

“The Post Office currently operates a range of automated services which need to be taken into consideration by service providers,” the SSR document stated.

Within the document, there is a section dedicated to Capture (Appendix 3-4). Under the heading Intellectual Property Rights, it stated: “The application has been developed for the Post Office by Unisys Ltd using their own 4GL development application (generic postal architecture). The intellectual property rights in the development tool reside with Unisys, but the Capture application itself is ‘owned’ by the Post Office.”
Full article by Karl Flinders of Computer Weekly.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by fchd »

The BBC are reporting that a new law has come into effect in Scotland meaning "anyone convicted of embezzlement, fraud or theft in connection with Post Office business between 1996 and 2018 have had their convictions quashed and are eligible for compensation."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c4nnjrj179lo
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by fchd »

Alan Bates has been awarded a knighthood in the King's Birthday Honours List.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c511l0j4l2po
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

fchd wrote: 15 Jun 2024 09:01 Alan Bates has been awarded a knighthood in the King's Birthday Honours List.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c511l0j4l2po
He had already rejected the offer of an OBE last year, telling the Honours Committee that it would be inappropriate to accept it whilst Ms Vennells kept hold of her CBE for services to the Post Office and many victims continued to suffer.

Ms Vennells handed back her CBE earlier this year amid mounting pressure in the aftermath of the ITV drama in January which sparked national outrage over the scandal.

“I went and had a confidential talk with somebody who knows what’s gone on over the years and they said to me, 'well you’ve done the heavy lifting, others are doing the rest now.' And on reflection, I knew so many people who were keen for me to actually receive something, I felt I would be insulting them as much as anyone else if I refused it at this time," Sir Alan said.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

As the Inquiry progresses a number of other websites are providing detailed commentary on different aspects, especially legal and ethical: Rochard Moorhouse's Substack, Johua Rozenberg's ditto. The latest I've seen, thanks to Christopher Head, is RollOnFriday.

"RollOnFriday provides news and views on the legal profession" and this one is about the performances of the two Womble Bond Dickinson partners who were giving evidence to the enquiry this week, Tome Beezer and Andrew Parsons.

Sample:
Beezer assured the inquiry that he had been “confident in the assertions made to me by POL [the Post Office] about the robustness of the Horizon system”, but since then, “my confidence in such assertions has been eroded”. Not 'alf!

He should have had a word with his colleague Andrew Parsons, who was hammered by Inquiry counsel Julian Blake with example after example of advice he gave to the Post Office not to disclose Horizon's errors.

That included walking Parsons into a bear trap by asking him if he had ever advised the Post Office not to write things down because then they would be disclosable.

"No", the Womble replied confidently, at which Blake whisked him to a note he wrote in 2013 telling the Post Office that informing its insurer about Horizon errors "would look bad for POL if it ever became public knowledge", and that “to reduce the risk” it would be better if, “rather than sending a formal written notification”, the Post Office “verbally notifies them so as not to leave a paper trail”.

Challenged on the apparent contradiction, a rattled Parsons responded, “I apologise, I misunderstood your question”.
We knew that the Post Office's reputation was in tatters - some of the other parties involved are following. Cartwright King, of course, went bust and was bought out of administration in December 2022 by a new company with a completely new management team.

The firm said: ‘The new owners of Cartwright King are, alongside the rest of the country, horrified at the injustice caused by the Post Office prosecutions..."

But how about the Wombles:
WBD has limited its public statements to a boiler plate expression of sympathy*, but one Womble has spoken up.

Responding to a ROF commenter who said that “Everything you touch in the office is tainted by the suffering of the postmasters”, WBD Senior Counsel Adam Taylor-Smith responded that “the people I deal with on regular basis at the firm are thoughtful and high on integrity and frankly very decent people. I think it is pretty odd and juvenile to vilify an entire organisation based on the alleged actions of a handful of people years ago".

Word reaches ROF that some WBD lawyers are not overly impressed with their partners' performance at the Inquiry.

One “massively embarrassed senior lawyer” told ROF that Parsons was "torn apart" by Blake, and that they were “very surprised” at the impression Parsons gave that current WBD Chair Simon Richardson "took such a light touch to the most brand-damaging litigation the PO and WBD will ever be involved in".

Another appalled insider claimed that partners "are now not happy" with certain management figures whose "days are numbered".

Damage inflicted by the Inquiry on WBD's reputation is ongoing, and now encompasses a prospective joiner contacting RollOnFriday to ask whether they should accept an offer from the firm.
Comments on this article are numerous and include:

"Watching Andy 's (now called Prince Andy after the disastrous Newsnight interview of Royal namesake) appalling performance made me think to myself, colleagues , joiners and clients. Why would we work here , join here or give us any work? Taxi ? Make it a big one. "

"My disdain and disgust for WBD was greatly enhanced by the performance of Parsons. Whilst I have no confidence whatsoever in the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, surely even they can’t mess this one up. "

"(Inquiry KC) Blake made Parsons look incompetent when Parsons kept saying he was not a criminal lawyer and yet was taken to many emails where he was clearly giving advice on criminal proceedings disclosure. If you were not Mr Parsons what were Wombles paid the £38 million for? Being a post box as you claim? Really?!"


"Its a shame the reputations of those at WBD who are good at their job are now tarnished by the actions of a few. One assumes their billing statistics [ie client chargeable time] will go down due to mass CV updating, recruiter meetings and time off for external interviews currently taking place across the business."

"WBD's GC can dress it up as however he likes. Parsons/WBD gave positive advice to the Post Office to speak to its insurers verbally "so as to not leave a paper trail". The illegality of that advice is frankly shocking. There are many good people who work at WBD (1500+ employees - of course there are) but the firm's reputational damage is now beyond reparable.

Parsons should be struck off and the firm should make good its wrongdoing by making a generous contribution to the sub post master compensation scheme - it took £60 million of tax payers money defending the group litigation FGS.

Tbh I'm embarrassed to work here now. Paul Stewart - people at this firm are looking at you to take action and do the right thing. Have some back bone and sort this out before our clients leave in droves. "


"I am ashamed to work at Wombles. The firm is at a crossroads. It needs to sack the entire board and get rid of the cronies and the back slappers who have lined their pockets.

If it doesn’t, then WBD won’t have and staff left. "

Things don't look good in the land of the Wombles.
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Post Office betrays postmasters yet again: Fury as bungling Post Office publishes names & addresses

Post by norvic »

Yesterday it was 'Two Bob' Day*, as Ron Warmington and Ian Henderson of Second Sight gave evidence to the enquiry - a half-day each. (* for reasons of economy, the Second Sight part in the TV drama was played by just one person, identified as Bob Rutherford. Ron and Ian together, therfore, are the two Bobs.)

If you missed it, or let it pass by because of the frequent and constant stream of amnesia from Post Office directors, managers and lawyers, go back and watch this because it is a marked contrast of clarity - and explains why they only needed half a day to put their points over.

But that's not the point of today's post. The Daily Mail has a scoop (reported to his readers by Nick Wallis) regarding a huge data breach by Post Office.
The bungling Post Office has published the names and home addresses of the postmasters it persecuted during the Horizon scandal.

In what appears to be a staggering data breach, 'cavalier' workers printed their private details on its website for anyone to see, the Mail can reveal.

Having already ruined many lives by falsely accusing them of stealing, the Post Office's latest betrayal has been branded an insult to injury – and furious victims alerted by the Mail are vowing to 'make them pay'.

On the very day its IT specialists are being grilled at the Horizon inquiry, the alleged data breach marks yet another breathtaking IT failure for the organisation. It published on its corporate website a dossier of 592 wronged postmasters who were involved in suing the Post Office in 2019 - showing their full names and home addresses including postcode, making it easy for anyone to find them. Many are poised to receive significant sums of money in compensation for Britain's biggest ever miscarriage of justice, and told of their anger at their home addresses being exposed.

Humiliatingly, the document containing the details is entitled 'Confidential Settlement Deed' and spells out in black and white that its contents are private. It is even signed by the Post Office's own senior lawyer – and yet it has been posted onto its website in full.

After the Mail informed the Post Office this afternoon, it changed its website to remove the offending list. But former postmasters are 'incandescent'. And the embattled Post Office now potentially faces another investigation, this time by the Information Commissioner who takes breaches of personal data extremely seriously.

Last year the commissioner levied a £1million fine on the Ministry of Defence for losing the data of 245 people.

The 592 former postmasters whose home addresses have been published were among the group involved in bringing High Court class litigation against the Post Office in 2019. Hundreds of innocents were bankrupted, jailed or driven to suicide after being wrongly accused of plundering their own tills between 1999 and 2015, when money appearing to be 'missing' from their branch accounts was really the result of glitches in the company's Horizon computer system.

The list includes those who brought the scandal to life in ITV's acclaimed four-part drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office which triggered national outrage at the way the former pillars of their communities were tormented.

Wendy Buffrey, 64,who ran a branch in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, with her husband Doug until their malfunctioning Horizon terminal invented a £36,000 shortfall and she was prosecuted as a thief, said: 'I'm incandescent. I'm just so angry. We all thought they couldn't do any more to us than they've already done.

'They need to pay for this. It's yet another thing they've done that could potentially destroy one of our lives. They just don't stop, do they?

'People out there in the outside world know that we're all going to get compensation payments - and all our home details are out there? It's absolutely horrendous.'

Nichola Arch, 53, falsely accused of theft at her Chalford Hill post office in Gloucestershire, said: 'They seem to be completely incompetent. Our personal information is out there for anybody, and that is absolutely disgusting. To say it's adding insult to injury is the understatement of the year.

Nichola Arch, 53, was falsely accused of theft at her Chalford Hill post office

'People know that, due to the extent of this scandal, people are going to get compensation. Now if they've got our names and addresses, people know exactly where that money is, and that can bring out all sorts of anxiety to victims because they'll be thinking, 'God is somebody going to break in?' It's horrific.'

Deirdre Connolly, 54, who ran the post office in Killeter, Northern Ireland, with her husband Darius until they were falsely accused of stealing – and was even asked if they had 'taken the money for paramilitaries' - said: 'I can't believe it. My home address is on that website? My home, my family - what the f***?'

Her husband, 53, claimed: 'It's absolute incompetence. The fact that they can't keep people's names and addresses private tells you all you need to know about how they run their computer system.'

Ron Warmington, the forensic investigator whose firm Second Sight was hired to probe the faulty Horizon system in 2013, said: 'As if we needed to see another example of Post Office incompetence! This is an extraordinary breach of the confidentiality undertakings with which Post Office so heavy handedly insisted that we must all - and for all time - comply. It seems that Post Office deploys far greater firepower in protecting its own data than it does in protecting data that names its victims.'

Lord Arbuthnot, the peer who has championed the postmasters for years, told the Mail: 'I long ago stopped expecting much, if anything, from the Post Office, but for them to publicise the personal details of the group litigation claimants is incompetent.

'Amongst so many other criminal offences committed by the Post Office, this alleged data breach is yet a further intrusion into the privacy of sub-postmasters and their ability to put the matter behind them. And it answers the question as to whether the Post Office has learnt and improved: it hasn't.'

The names and home addresses are listed in a 47-page legal agreement, signed on 10 December 2019, which brought the High Court class action to a settlement mid-way through the trial. The Post Office apparently intended to publish on its website a 'redacted' version of the legal agreement, with personal details covered by a censor's black ink. But instead, the document was posted with everyone's personal details on full display.

Raoul Lumb, a partner at law firm SMB who specialises in data protection, said it appeared 'a remarkable breach' of the UK's data protection laws known as GDPR and showed 'a cavalier disregard for the rights of sub-postmasters'.

He said: 'The document, which is clearly marked as confidential, exposes the names and addresses of every sub-postmaster who was a claimant in the Alan Bates and others v Post Office litigation.

'It is particularly embarrassing for the Post Office because clause 12 of the document is a clause which explicitly obliges all the parties to 'keep [it] confidential'. Given that, it's difficult to see any justification for the Post Office to have made it public in a completely unredacted form.'

He said the Post Office has a duty to report the breach to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and added: 'The leaking of it will no doubt cause further distress to sub-postmasters who have already suffered enough. You would expect the ICO to take an extremely dim view of the breach given the clear expectation of confidentiality and the vulnerability of the data subjects named in it. It would not surprise me if the commissioner levied a fine to penalise the Post Office for this seemingly very basic failure to manage its data securely.'

The Post Office said: 'The document in question has been removed from our website. We are investigating as an urgent priority how it came to be published. We are in the process of notifying the Information Commissioner's Office of the incident, in line with our regulatory requirements.'

The ICO said: 'We have not received a data breach report on this matter. Organisations must notify the ICO within 72 hours.'
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by David Smitham »

Perhaps the Post Office management and other office staff ought to step in and deliver mail as per their legal obligations. It is obvious that management is so incompetent that perhaps the ordinary posties would be better at doing their managers' jobs? in any case heads should roll not only for the 2013 etc Horizon mess but also for the 2024 mess. And to think that someone wants to buy the outfit!!!

If so then sack all managerial staff.

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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by colinscovers »

Hi David

Two different organisations. The Post Office is the counter that sells stamps takes in registered post, provides currencies, makes cash payments for pensions and benefits through accounts etc.

It is royal mail that was privatised that delivers the mail and is subject to a possible buy out.

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Post by satsuma »

"It published on its corporate website a dossier of 592 wronged postmasters who were involved in suing the Post Office in 2019 - showing their full names and home addresses including postcode, making it easy for anyone to find them."

With all due respect to those named, and I accept their anger is justified, any criminal more than halfway IT aware could have found out many of the names without too much trouble. Everybody in their respective towns and villages knew they were fired, prosecuted, or both; most would know they have been retrospectively vindicated.

Maybe they were safe from the impromptu burglar; but those who prey on lottery winners, will beneficiaries and receivers of windfall incomes, probably already had many of them on their to do list already.

Of course the corporation should have known better, done better, been wiser, and had better systems in place; but a track record of bumbling incompetence would not lead one to expect it.

On the other hand, a track record of implacable, vindictive, mean spiritedness means it's no surprise at all.
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Post by norvic »

satsuma wrote: 20 Jun 2024 09:59 "It published on its corporate website a dossier of 592 wronged postmasters who were involved in suing the Post Office in 2019 - showing their full names and home addresses including postcode, making it easy for anyone to find them."

With all due respect to those named, and I accept their anger is justified, any criminal more than halfway IT aware could have found out many of the names without too much trouble. Everybody in their respective towns and villages knew they were fired, prosecuted, or both; most would know they have been retrospectively vindicated.

Maybe they were safe from the impromptu burglar; but those who prey on lottery winners, will beneficiaries and receivers of windfall incomes, probably already had many of them on their to do list already.

Of course the corporation should have known better, done better, been wiser, and had better systems in place; but a track record of bumbling incompetence would not lead one to expect it.

On the other hand, a track record of implacable, vindictive, mean spiritedness means it's no surprise at all.
You're right, to a degree. But remember some of these people didn't even tell their families. The SPM from Hawkshead in the Lake District, whose name I can't recall at present, left the country, took his family to suffer in France (especially the children who had a bad time at school to start with), and only returned last year.

Whilst some of those who haven't shunned the limelight are household names - Sir Alan Bates (knighted in the King's Birthday Honours List), Janet Skinner, Lee Castleton, Seema Misra, Noel Thomas and the one from Pembrokeshire, Jo Hamilton, Christopher Head, the ones that immediately spring to mind - many are not.

Many moved away, couldn't face their neighbours or family, went into what amounted to a self-imposed witness-protection type situation (except that they weren't) where nobody knew them.

I hope if the Information Commissioner fines them, he has the power to get that money to the Horizon Scandal Fund.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

Having mentioned Sir Alan Bates getting his 'gong' so to speak, it is only right that I mention - once again - Jason Beer KC.

Jason Beer KC is awarded ‘Barrister of the year’ at The Lawyer Awards 2024


Jason Beer KC, Lead Counsel to the Post Office Horizon Inquiry.
Jason Beer KC, Lead Counsel to the Post Office Horizon Inquiry.
5 Essex Chambers is delighted to announce that Head of Chambers, Jason Beer KC won ‘Barrister of the year’ at The Lawyer Awards 2024. The Awards ceremony took place on 18 June at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The nomination follows Jason’s inclusion in The Lawyer Hot 100 2024 list, during a significant year for Chambers that coincides with its 70th anniversary.

The Lawyer magazine writes ‘As leading counsel to the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, the scandal of which has been described as one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice in British legal history, Jason Beer KC’s job has been to hold those in power to account. In 2022, Beer and the inquiry heard the human impact hearings of the wronged sub-postmasters as well as details on the Horizon IT system. 2023 was an explosive year for the inquiry as Beer questioned the Post Office on its conduct. His work continues well into 2024, with the inquiry concluding on the Post Office’s current practices and procedures.

'Beer, who heads up 5 Essex Chambers, also plays a pivotal role in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry as lead counsel for NHS England. Module three of the inquiry, which looks at the healthcare system, starts in October 2024. Beer will again represent the NHS in the upcoming Lucy Letby Inquiry after Letby was convicted of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others last year. He will also act as leading counsel for Counter Terrorism Policing South East in the Dawn Sturgess Inquiry regarding the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury, as well as leading counsel for Greater Manchester Police in the Malkinson Inquiry.’
He has provided this end-to-end service in a number of the most prominent cases of the last two decades. His caseload has included: the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, the Hutton Inquiry, the Shipman Inquiry, the ‘Phone Hacking’ Claims, the Baha Mousa Inquiry, the Al-Sweady Inquiry, the Hillsborough Inquests, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Sir Cliff Richard’s claim for misuse of private information, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Fishmongers Hall Inquests, the Facial Recognition judicial review, the Harry Dunn judicial review, the Shoreham Airshow Inquests, the Plymouth Shootings Inquests, and the EncroChat Claims.

From the Horizon Inquiry website
Jason Beer KC is the Head of Chambers of 5 Essex Court and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge (King’s Bench and Chancery Divisions) and as a Recorder of the Crown Court. He has a multi-disciplinary background specialising in public inquiries, inquests, public law and police law. Jason has considerable experience of leading teams of counsel in complex and sensitive investigations and inquiries. Before taking Silk, he was Junior Counsel to the Crown.
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Post by norvic »

And if anybody is near Leeds, Nick Wallis's Roadshow is making one additional appearance, with Janet Skinner in November.

Friday 22 November – Otley Courthouse, Otley (nr Leeds), 7.30pm. Guest: Janet Skinner. Tickets here. NB Small venue, unallocated seating, likely to sell out. Buy tickets now – arrive early!

And if you are in Edinburgh on 28 June, Nick is launching the paperback version of 'the book' at Toppings Bookshop:

Topping & Company Booksellers of Edinburgh, 2 Blenheim Place, Edinburgh EH7 5JH
Doors Open 7.10pm ---- Start Time 7.30pm Price £13.99, which includes the book.
oin us to celebrate the paperback edition of Nick Wallis' The Great Post Office Scandal, the definitive account of the scandal and 'an extraordinary journalistic expose of a huge miscarriage of justice'.
The Great Post Office Scandal

The Great Post Office Scandal is the extraordinary story behind the recent ITV drama series Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

It tells of how thousands of subpostmasters were accused of theft and false accounting on the back of evidence from Horizon, the flawed computer system designed by Fujitsu, and how a group of them, led by Alan Bates, took their fight to the High Court. Their eventual victory in court vindicated their claims about the defects of the software and exposed the heavy handed attempts by the Post Office to suppress them. The book also recounts how successive senior managers, business leaders, lawyers, civil servants and Government ministers, at best failed to expose the injustice or, even worse, sought to cover it up, resulting in one of the largest miscarriages of justice in UK history.

As the public inquiry reaches its climax, and senior figures such as Paula Vennells come to be questioned, The Great Post Office Scandal reveals the full scale of what happened and how so many of our trusted institutions allowed the saga to go on for nearly a quarter of a century, shattering the lives of thousands of innocent people.

About Nick Wallis
Nick Wallis is an award-winning broadcast journalist. He is known in the UK as one of the leading experts on the Post Office scandal, and he also reported on Johnny Depp's legal battles in 2020. Nick lives in Surrey, England and is married with three children.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by Rockyman44 »

norvic wrote: 21 Jun 2024 03:42

You're right, to a degree. But remember some of these people didn't even tell their families. The SPM from Hawkshead in the Lake District, whose name I can't recall at present, left the country, took his family to suffer in France (especially the children who had a bad time at school to start with), and only returned last year.

Whilst some of those who haven't shunned the limelight are household names - Sir Alan Bates (knighted in the King's Birthday Honours List), Janet Skinner, Lee Castleton, Seema Misra, Noel Thomas and the one from Pembrokeshire, Jo Hamilton, Christopher Head, the ones that immediately spring to mind - many are not.

Many moved away, couldn't face their neighbours or family, went into what amounted to a self-imposed witness-protection type situation (except that they weren't) where nobody knew them.

I hope if the Information Commissioner fines them, he has the power to get that money to the Horizon Scandal Fund.

The Hawkshead SPM was Tony Downey

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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by satsuma »

Thr Fujitsu expert Jenkins has been on the stand for a couple of days now and is being challenged over his part in the prosecutions.

He is quoted as saying "he was happy with his statements at the time"
despite rewording some of those statements to suit the post office legal team.

He said he now realised that “he didn’t understand what an expert witness was” or its “legal niceties."

He also apologized for an email trail accusing subpostmasters for jumping on the blame Horizon bandwagon.

In summary; his current statements seem to be a plea along the lines of; if I perjured myself before, it was without malice and through legal ignorance, so please don't charge me with it.
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Post by The Pom »

"I had no clue what I was meant to be doing, and what I did do, I did badly, though I didn't know I was doing it badly, and neither did my senior colleagues" seems to be the order of the day in investigations into managerial failings these days.
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Post by gavin-h »

satsuma wrote: 28 Jun 2024 08:37 Thr Fujitsu expert Jenkins has been on the stand for a couple of days now and is being challenged over his part in the prosecutions.
This is getting to the crux of the matter.

We all know that EVERY major IT system (whether for a government department, a major retailer, a delivery company, a bank or even a stamp dealers!) is riddled with bugs.

It's near impossible for a massive system with multiple programmers, analysts etc - many of whom never meet each other - delivering millions of lines of code, to be bug-free.

And where these multiple packets of code fit together there are near-always gaps or overlaps which can produce seemingly unpredictable outputs. Maybe the system generates an error message that means something to the support teams. Maybe the system shuts itself down "for no reason". Maybe it locks up and you have to give it a "hard reboot". Maybe random number or pieces of "machine code" appear in output fields. That is apparently (in lay-person's terms) what has happened in this case.

What is (almost) as unfeasible is for an executive of a major IT company, or of their customer, to believe or expect it to be bug free. Junior employees, fully aware of problems in the system, may be discouraged from taking their concerns to senior management and - almost certainly - strongly discouraged from "talking outside school" for reasons of commercial confidentiality, or for going against The Official Secrets Act

What is even more unfeasible and compounds that further, is when those same executives choose to portray to the public, their competitors, the police and other investigators, and the courts, that they have miraculously developed, installed, managed, and continue to use THE WORLD'S ONLY MAJOR BUG-FREE IT SYSTEM.

That is where the focus of the questions should be. Why would you choose to portray that? And was the motive for doing so criminal? And if not criminal, with what intent?

I worked near 30 years with major UK government IT systems in one capacity or another, and if a supplier - or a senior manager - had told me that "their" system was PERFECT and BUG FREE, I would have laughed in their faces.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by David Smitham »

To me, it seems that many folks involved with the prosecutions are now trying to absolve themselves from any possible prosecutions.

However, I may have missed reading this aspect in earlier posts, but ….

As I understand most Horizon transactions were “normal”. A few were abnormal in that they reported discrepancies that showed income shortages and that these were the cases that eventually led to prosecutions.

What about any transactions that showed income overages? What happened? Did the postmasters keep the surplus monies?

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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by satsuma »

David Smitham wrote: 29 Jun 2024 07:31

What about any transactions that showed income overages? What happened? Did the postmasters keep the surplus monies?

David.
If the system was designed "normally" that is unlikely. It would go like this:

Step 1 count each denomination of cash received.

Step 2 Input those totals

Step 3 add the value of cheques etc

Step 4 input that total.

Step 5 system compares your input with difference between recorded money in and money out transaction records

Step 6a system accepts totals as accurate

or

Step 6b system requests manual count of value of cash in and manual count of value of cash out

Step 7 input those totals

Step 8 system decides whether the inwards or outwards or both totals are wrong.

Step 9 if the discrepancy is equivalent to a single digital transaction it is identified as such.

And so on.


The important fact in the process is that the on hand value is recorded before the system advises what value is expected].

This prevents a scenario where surpluses become unrecorded and not investigated.

So if a client hands over money for something and it is not recorded digitally for whatever reason a red flag is raised.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

It’s much simpler than that and works both ways, as it does with all retail operations.

Customer makes a purchase which is ‘rung up’ correctly but is given change for 20 when he actually paid with a 10, ie he is given 10 too much.

At the end of the day the till is 10 down.

Reverse situations happen but are less common because the customer notices they have been short-changed.

Or, customer buys a book of 6 stamps but is given a book of 12, charged for 6, and the sale of 6 is rung up.

At the next balance the stock will be 6 stamps short. (Or vice versa).

In these cases there would be overs and unders and a tobacco tin might hold the accumulating overs and be used to pay off unders. Typically we’re talking about tens of £ rather than hundreds.

With a system that also deals with banking transactions and bill payments, there were different, electronic or digital causes of error.

Customer withdraws £100 from his bank account and the SPM presses all the right buttons, gets a printout acknowledgment and then the system freezes. It turns out that the customers bank account was never debited, so there is an imbalance between POL and the bank. When Horizon strikes a balance the branch is 100 down because it had less cash than the system thinks it should have.

There are many other similar faults.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by LoneStarState »

David Smitham wrote: 29 Jun 2024 07:31
What about any transactions that showed income overages? What happened? Did the postmasters keep the surplus monies?

David.
At the Nick Wallis talk I attended in Guildford, there was an audience question asking about if there were surpluses/overs at POs and SPOs conjured up by Horizon. Nick answered that yes there were surpluses, but unfortunately I can't remember what his exact answer was as to what SPMs did when Horizon generated significant surpluses, or more specifically what they were required to do according to the SPM contract. I would love to read the exact contract SPMs were given in that period.

My guess is given the onerous strict liability terms in the SPM contract and the PO's cultural attitude that SPMs only wanted to enrich themselves and their primary convenience store/retail businesses by piggybacking off the PO brand, surpluses were at a guess of less concern. They weren't due to the PO based on SPO accounts and the PO probably wouldn't want such unaccounted for cash if it maybe did turn out that an SPM was overcharging customers etc.

Oh the irony when the revelations about the suspense account where unaccounted cash to make up shortfalls was held and then later added to the POs profit/loss accounts came to be known.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

I think I read of a case where Horizon generated a significant surplus and the SPM declined to accept it. But smaller surpluses were kept in the tobacco tin as I mentioned earlier.

YOU would like to see the SPM contract - so would most of them. Certainly many of them claimed never to have seen one, and others said they were given a 2-3 page outline before they took over and then a much thicker one on the day they took over and they then didn't have time to read it.
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Re: British Post Office 'Horizon' overcharges Trial - the Court Cases

Post by norvic »

norvic wrote: 21 Jun 2024 03:59
Jason Beer KC is awarded ‘Barrister of the year’ at The Lawyer Awards 2024


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Interview and article in The Lawyer, is an interesting insight into the mind of the KC, and in particular the lead KC to Public Inquiries.
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