Public enquiry to examine wrongful Post Office convictions

Public enquiry to examine wrongful Post Office convictions

The wrongful convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters and mistresses are being examined by a public inquiry starting on Monday February 14 2022.

Between 2000 and 2014, more than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a flaw in a computer system Horizon.

A total of 72 former sub-postmasters have had their names cleared so far.

The inquiry will look at whether the Post Office knew about faults in the IT system and will also ask how staff shouldered the blame.

It will also examine whether staff at software firm Fujitsu, which developed the Horizon software to complete tasks such as transactions, accounting and stocktaking, knew the system had flaws while data from it was used in court to convict sub-postmasters.

A judge will hear evidence on why sub-postmasters and postmistresses were singled out and whether they have been justly compensated.

Thousands of Post Office branch managers lost huge sums of money as they tried to make up mysterious shortfalls at their shops, which the Post Office is only now beginning to refund.

Many have described being shunned by their communities while some have since died.

The inquiry is expected to run for the rest of this year.

The Post Office has said it is “sincerely sorry” for the impact of the Horizon scandal, adding it is “in no doubt about the human cost.”

It said the inquiry will enable “many of those who were most deeply affected by Post Office’s past failings to voice their experiences and their testimonies must and will ensure all lessons are learned so that such events can never happen again”.

“In addressing the past, our first priority is that full, fair and final compensation is provided and we are making good progress,” it added.

The government has set aside funding to facilitate compensation payments.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu said it was “committed to providing the fullest and most transparent information so that key lessons are learned for the future”.