Anyone else watching the Post Office drama

I am so angry

Didn't find your answer?

I've been reading about the post office over the last few years, but something about seeing the TV makes it more real. 

I'm so angry..

Replies (84)

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By Capitalised
01st Jan 2024 22:12

Yes, beyond sickened. Worth also listening to the podcast if you haven't already.

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By johnthegood
02nd Jan 2024 05:32

The Noel Thomas book is worth a read as well

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Replying to johnthegood:
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By Wanderer
02nd Jan 2024 07:26

Also the Nick Wallis book.

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By Wanderer
02nd Jan 2024 07:32

This one makes my blood boil. Have been following it for years as drove past Jo Hamilton's sub post office on a daily basis for years.

They haven't mentioned Seema Misra yet. Pregnant when sentenced to 15 months' jail. In interview she came across as honest as the day is long.

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VAT
By Jason Croke
02nd Jan 2024 08:37

Private Eye has been on this 10 years ago, as well as a massive injustice that will make anyone outraged, the reality is, post office hasn't changed, still dragging its feet, still denying it did anything wrong, all the testimonies that have been streamed live from the hearing and none of the managers or senior lawyers seem to think they've done anything wrong.

Top brass knew the Horizon system was broken but they supressed this at criminal trials, there's enough from the hearings to start criminal proceedings and there are several ex- post office lawyers that should be banned from acting as lawyers and should be in jail.

...and still the post office requires victims to put a claim in, calculate what they think they are due, hoping that many will die or give up before ever seeing any payment and still the justice system will not allow wrongly jailed victims to have their records cleaned without having to jump through more hoops.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
02nd Jan 2024 14:32

I've also been following it for years. Its been outrageous how callous the PO staff have been sending people to jail rather than standing up to their own organisation.

As accountants we are used to doing the right thing. Looks like most people are just looking to save their own skins.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By FactChecker
02nd Jan 2024 18:57

"..and still the post office requires victims to put a claim in"

But it's worse than that ... not just only 'processing' those who have put a claim in, but refusing even to consider those who have not (yet) found the energy and money and support to get their conviction overturned.

So it's alright to charge and penalise those who are innocent, but can't risk the possibility (via wholesale compensation) that even one guilty person might get undeserved compensation?
And some of the overpaid incompetents making these decisions actually *believe* that they're being 'reasonable'!!! They are truly without reason.

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By frankfx
02nd Jan 2024 09:31

The abuse of power and the manner in which it was wielded is alarming.

The lawyers who oversaw and willingly implemented the corrupt policies should face prosecution.

The Post Office's historic ability to mount prosecutions outside the conventional channels meant that basic scrutiny was avoided.

The lawyers knew this full well. En Masse they had their snouts in the trough.

Where were the whistle- blowers in this cohort?

I look forward to the prosecutions.

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By bernard michael
02nd Jan 2024 09:35

I'm surprised the auditors didn't pick up on the sudden increase in missing money following the installation of the new computer system or did they and their reports were suppressed by PO management

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Replying to bernard michael:
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By Wanderer
02nd Jan 2024 10:16

Internal auditors formed the case for prosecution.

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By bernard michael
02nd Jan 2024 10:31

Wanderer wrote:

Internal auditors formed the case for prosecution.


May they be forgiven
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Replying to bernard michael:
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By bernard michael
08th Jan 2024 09:16

bernard michael wrote:

I'm surprised the auditors didn't pick up on the sudden increase in missing money following the installation of the new computer system or did they and their reports were suppressed by PO management


Apparently a firm of forensic accountants was employed by the Post Office to examine the system and when their findings started to be adverse they were sacked before finalising their report
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Giraffe
By Luke
02nd Jan 2024 13:04

Have set it to record and will watch with interest.

Our village postmaster was one of those sent to prison in the early 2000s. He received a 16 week sentence and I remember bumping into his wife a few weeks later, she was devastated and said that he had to plead guilty as the reconciliation was out, he had no choice. Of course to be honest at the time, I took this with a pinch of salt.

It was a big local scandal and the wife soon moved away before the husband came out of prison so they set up home elsewhere. I think of him every time this story hits the news, they were a lovely couple and unfortunately everyone did doubt him. I hope he has managed to rebuild his life.

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Replying to Luke:
By Moonbeam
02nd Jan 2024 14:57

Our local postmaster was taken out of service, and apparently went to prison. At the time I couldn't believe he was guilty. Now I hang my head in shame that I didn't do some more investigating and then protesting.

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By Yossarian
02nd Jan 2024 15:03

I remember at the time our local postmistress complaining to me that the Horizon system 'Had a mind of its own'. Not long after that the Post Office closed down her branch and made her redundant. Looking back, she perhaps had a lucky escape..

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Replying to Moonbeam:
Giraffe
By Luke
02nd Jan 2024 15:29

I also wouldn't have thought that our postmaster was guilty, they were lovely people but my knowledge of them was to the extent of having a chat a couple of times a week. I also perhaps naively thought it odd that you would ever plead guilty to a crime you didn't commit.

You can't feel guilty now, none of us knew at the time the extent of the problem and probably didn't know the individuals well enough to take on their cause, nor would have necessarily been able to do anything about it.

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Replying to Luke:
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By Yossarian
02nd Jan 2024 15:42

I even remember hearing of cases where postmasters made good the apparent 'shortfalls' out of their own personal money, as they were so scared of being accused of theft and couldn't prove where else the money could have gone. I wonder how much extra revenue the Post Office netted as a result of that?

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By lionofludesch
02nd Jan 2024 23:29

Moonbeam wrote:

Our local postmaster was taken out of service, and apparently went to prison. At the time I couldn't believe he was guilty. Now I hang my head in shame that I didn't do some more investigating and then protesting.

What would you investigate?

Even the accused weren't permitted access to the records. Which, for me, is the biggest miscarriage of justice.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By jwgrogan
04th Jan 2024 16:27

lionofludesch wrote:

Even the accused weren't permitted access to the records. Which, for me, is the biggest miscarriage of justice.

Surely there were lists of the transactions making up the totals in the reconciliations that could have been investigated for discrepancies? Wouldn't it be just a very complex version of finding a bank rec difference? Any system that didn't produce some sort of day books must have been criminally incompetent to be accepted by the PO management.

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Replying to jwgrogan:
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By lionofludesch
04th Jan 2024 16:33

jwgrogan wrote:

Surely there were lists of the transactions making up the totals in the reconciliations that could have been investigated for discrepancies? Wouldn't it be just a very complex bank rec excercise? Any system that didn't produce some sort of day books must have been criminally incompetent to be accepted by the PO management.

Reconciled to what? You have a list of transactions some of which are real and some aren't.

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Replying to jwgrogan:
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By [email protected]
19th Feb 2024 06:37

yes jwgrogan

you have nailed it

in response to situations like this, you listen to the claims made by the postmasters in order to ascertain as much valuable info as possible, then you begin to devise and undertake your testing to establish precisely where the potentially dysfunctional "system" has gone wrong.

I'll be writing about this again, since another inaccurate claim has been made, this time by the bbc (journo Nick Edser), about glitches in the software being the cause, when in reality it's obvious, to those of intellectual honesty, that it is the subsequent response, on a technical level, and concluding reports which are the problem (given the frequency with which software can be inaccurate, meaning it is never to be assumed reliable), ultimately recklessly misrepresenting events, events which were not understood by the PO management.

System misreporting will never end, so that will never be the issue for such a judicial miscarriage - it's whether the response is accurate, with suitable staff undertaking appropriate research and testing, as opposed to all manner of strays getting involved with no history of undertaking similar work to identify the problem.

Seems SX Guy and lionofludesch are unsuitable individuals to comment also, like the PO management.

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By lionofludesch
19th Feb 2024 08:42

james1999h-AT-yahoo.com wrote:

Seems SX Guy and lionofludesch are unsuitable individuals to comment also, like the PO management.

It's never stopped me before.

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By FactChecker
19th Feb 2024 12:14

Nothing I can see that's been said above by either of those two to warrant your supercilious pronouncement.

And you've missed your own point!
".. then you begin to devise and undertake your testing to establish precisely where the potentially dysfunctional "system" has gone wrong."

It 'went wrong' before even the first line of code was written ... because what passed for a specification was watered down until it had no resemblance to the claimed 'accounting system' - just (rather poor) electronic till software.

Where you are right is that the numpties in charge had no understanding either of what they were signing up to nor of the implications when incorrect balances were reported.
Of course that doesn't excuse their (highly paid) ignorance or even begin to justify their subsequent dishonesty, but the seeds of the disaster were planted right at the start - and effective investigations wouldn't (and still won't) identify the exact 'software faults' because insufficient data was being collected all along.

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By [email protected]
19th Feb 2024 21:02

given that "systems" are found to be dysfunctional ALL the time EVERY day (it's a GIVEN), it's a fundamental, a staple part of the work of an accountant and /or any other system user or tester is to be able to identify where system problems lie, or if you cannot, do not get involved and leave it to me or someone who can identify either the frequent system errors one by one or a comprehensive solution. Which is why SXGuy and Nick Edser are wrong, it was down to the management not responding in an accurate and honest manner, down to them not leaving it to an expert to come to conclusions on the facts (rather than speculating - those 2 blamed the system - in reality it's the management's response which is the problem)

a separate parallel system (or other means of testing) would identify the frequent system errors, mentioned in speech marks below (this is not a remark regarding the new Horizon system itself, merely about having separate independent means, perhaps in the initial phases as a fall back, and/or as a form of validating the "new" Horizon system when there are suspicions of inaccuracies or dysfunctionality) :
".. then you begin to devise and undertake your testing to establish precisely where the potentially dysfunctional "system" has gone wrong."
That was nothing to do with the specification, first line or any line of code, merely a mention of the need for a parallel system when things are going wrong, or when a new system is being rolled out.

jwgrogan wrote "Reconciled to what?"
Answer. The transactions in your parallel system, and/or the other relevant records (such as bank account records (sometimes Horizon duplicated cash deposits meaning the cash balance on Horizon was overstated)) - so it can in fact be reconciled to other records, contrary to the question from jwgrogan...

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By Yossarian
02nd Jan 2024 14:43

Paula Vennells should be in jail IMHO.

I'd settle for her losing her CBE though:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/strip-paula-vennells-of-her-cbe

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Replying to Yossarian:
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By FactChecker
02nd Jan 2024 16:11

The real problem is endemic in that rarefied strata of our 'lords & masters'.

By all accounts Paula is 'not a very nice person'. But on the day when she resigned as a priest (and completed the chain of her other directorship resignations, from Dunelm and from Morrisons) I happened to be talking to an even 'bigger fish' in the City.
His pithy comment when I mentioned the news? "Silly girl" (for getting caught)!

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Replying to Yossarian:
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By Marlinman
05th Jan 2024 12:17

She should also be made bankrupt and stripped of her personal assets. Evil woman.

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By Ruddles
05th Jan 2024 12:29

I'd always be wary about signing a petition on the basis of a TV characterisation. I
suspect that many of the thousands that have recently added their signature are reacting to the personality and her behaviour as depicted in the dramatisation, where she came across as a dreadful human being, when in reality few of us would know if that was actually how she presented herself in real life.

Nevertheless, as "she" said, the buck stopped with her and for that reason alone she fully deserves everything that comes her way. Signature duly added.

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By Moonbeam
02nd Jan 2024 14:56

I just starting watching it on catchup, but gave up because it depressed me so much. I've already sat through the Radio 4 series.
The guilty ex directors seem to have got away scot free, yet surely they were committing perjury by claiming there was nothing wrong with Horizon.

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By tom123
02nd Jan 2024 15:17

In a rather upsetting turn of events today, it appears my local Post Office has suffered an armed robbery this morning...

It's tricky, isn't it - because, personally, I would be all for a "fully cashless" society - thus preventing robberies like today's - but then this programme revealed the issue with IT.

Everyone on this website will have stories of IT failures in their own workplaces, I am sure.

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By Justin Bryant
02nd Jan 2024 16:43

If you missed it then these similar viewer comments give you a flavour of things: https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/1850831/ITV-fume-switch-off-M...

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By Tom+Cross
03rd Jan 2024 11:55

It isn't the first miscarriage of justice and it won't be the last. The buffoon James Cleverly - the Home Secretary who 'joked' about date rape drugs, gave the usual responses yesterday, across the media.

I'm sure, if they had any commitment to justice, the Government could provide immediate interim payouts for those affected. At the same time hanging that awful Paula Vennells out to dry.

The establishment at its very worst and I take the view that none of them can be trusted. Britain has become very sour, over the years.

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By lionofludesch
03rd Jan 2024 23:02

Looking forward to the next tv series on Making Tax Digital.

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By Wanderer
03rd Jan 2024 23:41

Gift Aided Donations to the Horizon Scandal fund can be made here:-
https://www.horizonscandalfund.org/donate.html

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By johnthegood
04th Jan 2024 09:46

I have to say, as well as the captivating story line, it was also brilliantly filmed and acted by all

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By David Ex
04th Jan 2024 16:55

Apparently “sir” Ed Davey, then minister responsible for the Post Office, declined to meet with Alan Bates to discuss the concerns.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By Justin Bryant
05th Jan 2024 14:25

Yes; his excuse that he was hoodwinked by the P.O. is not a proper excuse, as it is a minster's job to be skeptical of dodgy sounding things like that and presumably he would not accept such an excuse from an auditor etc.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67892045

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By David Ex
05th Jan 2024 19:00

Justin Bryant wrote:

Yes; his excuse that he was hoodwinked by the P.O. is not a proper excuse, as it is a minster's job to be skeptical of dodgy sounding things like that and presumably he would not accept such an excuse from an auditor etc.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67892045

Read that Davey subsequently received nearly £300k for advising the law firm acting for the PO. Looks like it took a six figure sum to get him interested.

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By SteveHa
04th Jan 2024 17:23

I started watching it last night on catchup. Had no choice but to get up early this morning and finish it.

Whilst some parts felt glossed over, I thought it brilliant (and quite moving).

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By paulwakefield1
05th Jan 2024 08:55

I heard an interview with the writer who said trying to cram it into 4 x 45 minute episodes meant they had to pick and choose certain storylines and they were very conscious that there was much left out.

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By peter morgan
05th Jan 2024 10:49

I find it astonishing that no-one, right at the start, seems to have had the tenacity to uncover exactly what the issues were with the Horizon system. It's like Fujitsu were just bullshitting the Post Office and fobbing off the Postmasters with the 'you're the only one' line and the Post Office were just negligently accepting it and stomping all over the little people. There should be jail terms for many of those involved at Fujitsu and the Post Office and Vennels Gong is a sick joke. A final insult to the Proles from the Establishment.

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Replying to peter morgan:
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By gphemy
05th Jan 2024 11:06

The relationship between PO and Fujitsu is a critical feature of this, I believe. PO had contracted with Fujitsu to provide and support the Horizon system, so the technical support team had a commercial/contractual interest in minimising any adverse comments, while at the same time had probably not the slightest idea that their denmial of any problem would lead to criminal presecutions of the individual users, the postmasters. And in parallel, the PO investigators/prosecutors were "incentivised" by their loyalty to their employer to get the apparently light-fingered postmasters banged up!

Yes, I have been following this in Private Eye for many years. It's not just another public sector IT project gone awry, which would be bad enough.....

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By [email protected]
05th Jan 2024 11:37

Such a sad story. This isn't the only example of the terrible decline in British values. Successive Governments have given license to the rise of so many other cabals in various guises. Perhaps the next big reveal will be the CSA (Child Support Agency) and the devastation that they have wrongly caused to so many with their questionable powers and incompetent staff.

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By Moonbeam
05th Jan 2024 12:40

There are so many comments about the guilt of the female CEO here. Yet other senior people leading all sorts of public bodies who just happen to be male and who are just as guilty of appalling acts of neglect don't seem to be targetted by the press and the public in the same way.
Should women behave better than their male counterparts?

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By lionofludesch
05th Jan 2024 12:50

Moonbeam wrote:

There are so many comments about the guilt of the female CEO here. Yet other senior people leading all sorts of public bodies who just happen to be male and who are just as guilty of appalling acts of neglect don't seem to be targetted by the press and the public in the same way.
Should women behave better than their male counterparts?

Incompetence is one thing - but this was exceptional incompetence.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By whitevanman
05th Jan 2024 13:47

I rather feel that calling it incompetence is to mis-state the issue.
Fujitsu had a £1bn contract to provide the system and no doubt substantial annual fees thereafter to provide support etc. They also had many other government contracts of a similar nature. Very large sums are involved. Horizon was, initially, a joint project, intended to provide an "all singing, all dancing" system linking the PO with DWP to facilitate electronic payment of benefits and was expected to save the government at least £150m per annum.
After a couple of years (back in the mid-90's when all this started) DWP rejected the system as not fit for purpose (their words). It was not only rubbish but also 2 years behind schedule.
Why then did anyone agree to continue throwing public money into it? The PO did and agreed to pay £900m for the privilege without the involvement of DWP.
These things are driven by politicians, not the CEO's etc. The politicians apply the pressure, no doubt with lobbying from Fujitsu, and the corrupt CEO etc merely push it through (failing which they will not get their gongs). They could not afford to admit what they knew and therefore chose to trample all over the little men and women (for whom they didn't give a fig).
Matters have been referred to DPP (to whom similar pressures will be applied) but the chances of seeing the real villains prosecuted are very slim indeed. Even if Vennels (et al) is/are charged there will be an unsatisfactory outcome (just think of Hillsborough).
This is not the fault of British Justice as such. Rather the politicians for whom we, apparently, should have such high regard.
Referring to the comments by Moonbeam, I agree wholeheartedly that gender should never be a factor in making decisions of the type referred to. That said, it has been my experience that over the years, many women have tried to "out lad the lads", possibly because they felt that was what was needed for them to get on. This does not mean they are any less culpable. As I said at the start (of this rant) there is a difference between incompetence and deliberate actions of the type here in evidence. We don't, generally, prosecute incompetence. We should prosecute those who knowingly use the Criminal justice system in the way PO did, who pursue legal charges despite knowing that they have no evidence and, in effect, lie to (or at least mislead) the courts by denying there was any problem with their system and who also lie to both Parliament and the public.

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Replying to Moonbeam:
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By FactChecker
05th Jan 2024 13:41

There really *isn't* any gender issue here ... feel free to name any other CEOs who have consistently overseen the prosecution of their employees on the basis of what they know to be unreliable (and mostly false) evidence - and who have threatened both board members and employees with litigation if they dare to reveal the (known by the board) truth to the press.
So you can add bullying and vindictive to the charges of mendacious and amoral.

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By Jason Croke
05th Jan 2024 13:05

It's a shame that it has took a dramatisation/TV show to really get the public's attention. before this show the public interest has been patchy to say the least and only platitudes from the government, but maybe now, with an election looming and voters outraged, the government might do something.

I see the Tory Post office minister has suggested old Vennels hands back her CBE but not holding my breath on that one.

I'm convinced that genuine theft did take place, but by Fujitsu staff who had unfettered access to live data at each post office and which left no trace, almost a perfect crime, smash and grab, leave no trail and some sucker to take the fall .....if not theft, then how bad was the Horizon system that it could make up or lose random sums of money totalling hundreds of millions collectively.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By lionofludesch
05th Jan 2024 13:19

Jason Croke wrote:

I'm convinced that genuine theft did take place, but by Fujitsu staff who had unfettered access to live data at each post office and which left no trace, almost a perfect crime, smash and grab, leave no trail and some sucker to take the fall .....if not theft, then how bad was the Horizon system that it could make up or lose random sums of money totalling hundreds of millions collectively.

Seems plausible.

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