I’d support this yes

Post Office bosses should be prosecuted for overseeing the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history, MPs and victims said on Friday night.

I’d certainly support significant investigation into whether there should be prosecutions. The thing to be investigated not the installation of a cocked accounting system, something that is clearly true. Rather, the years and years of refusing, adamantly, to realise or admit that it was cocked. Effectively, the bureaucratic arrogance.

The Court ruled that the convictions were unsafe because they had been based on flawed evidence from the now discredited Horizon accounting computer system installed in Post Office branches in 1999.

Following the convictions, some of the 39 went to prison, lost their homes, were shunned by their communities and even failed to get insurance. A number of those convicted died before their names were cleared.

The Post Office used evidence based on the flawed Horizon system to prosecute a total of 736 people, many more of whom are now expected to go to the courts to have their own convictions quashed.

And there’s a lovely example of that arrogance. Why isn’t the PO scrambling to aid those 736?

The judges said: “Post Office Limited’s failures of investigation and disclosure were so egregious as to make the prosecution of any of the ‘Horizon cases’ an affront to the conscience of the court.”

That’s pretty bad you know…..

23 thoughts on “I’d support this yes”

  1. It’s the arrogant trampling on people’s lives that gets me. One suspects a lot of lying too.

  2. I rember reading accounts of this not long ago. Plenty of stories from Postmasters involved with this.
    It’s a shocking tale with many lives utterly destroyed.
    Without doubt,there is more to it than just institutional incompetence, the person’s responsible should be held to account.

  3. Reading around it seems that Gareth Jenkins and Anne Chambers, both of Fujitsu, have been referred to the CPS for possible charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

  4. The underlying issue is that computer “evidence” is very hard to disprove. The fact that the system “worked” was all the proof needed that it worked and so the missing returns it showed could only be explained as an act of fraud.

  5. Allthegoodnames.. : thank you. For those who didn’t read her Wikipedia entry, Paula Vennells is a prime example of the corrupt, enabled peak predators who pass from position to position without scrutiny and end up getting a CBE rather than being held to account. She belongs behind bars with the corruptocrats who thought she ticked the right boxes. Also a symptom of the death of the CoE.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    ISTR someone on here describing in detail the payment process that was at the centre of this scandal and why it should have been picked up earlier if a proper investigation had been carried out. Perhaps that’s why the pair SBML refers to are being looked at.

  7. From my background reading, the technical flaw was such a basic networking fundamental that I knew about and knew the solutions for in the early 1980s when at school, and has been known about since before antiquity.

  8. @philip From what I’ve read about it, and it’s included in the verdict, is that the first thing the PO shysters managed was to reverse, against all common sense and procedure, the burden of proof.
    This means the people wrongfully convicted had to prove their innocence against the claim of the PO and Fujitsu that their system was flawless. Plus the PO actually witheld the evidence that would have allowed anyone to prove the system very much was not flawless..

    You can’t win against a stacked deck..

  9. @ philip
    “Post Office Limited’s failures of investigation and disclosure were so egregious ”
    The defence lawyer was blindfolded (and I doubt that any of the victims could afford a top lawyer).
    IIRC the Post Office “expert” perjured himself by saying in court on oath that the system worked.

  10. BiND,

    “ISTR someone on here describing in detail the payment process that was at the centre of this scandal and why it should have been picked up earlier if a proper investigation had been carried out. Perhaps that’s why the pair SBML refers to are being looked at.”

    Reading the cases, there were a load of bugs, and because they were intermittent, no-one dealt with them. And that’s bad. Intermittent bugs with something trivial are fine, but transaction handling, you need to throw your best people at it and just get the problem solved.

    That said, places like Fujitsu don’t have many “best people”. No-one gives a shit about quality, just billing hours and getting things signed off. Combine it with crap clients like the Post Office who don’t do proper testing and you get this sort of situation.

  11. “Reading the cases, there were a load of bugs, and because they were intermittent, no-one dealt with them. And that’s bad. Intermittent bugs with something trivial are fine, but transaction handling, you need to throw your best people at it and just get the problem solved.”

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that one of the major issues was how the system dealt with interrupted transactions – poor internet connections to post offices being very common, many transactions would be cut off halfway through. The system was double counting these transactions it seems.

  12. The problem was in the system re-sending the last transaction batch after interruption/logoff before completion on the next login. And not failing that batch. Or checking for doubles. Or… well anything you’d expect of a system dealing with financial transactions, even in the ’70’s/’80’s.
    Resulting in people “committing fraud” simply by doing their daily routine and conscientiously logging in and doing what was needed.

    Nothing intermittent about it. It’s a very specific, structural flaw in the software that should have been found/adressed at the design/test stage.
    Hell, even a cursory inspection of the sessions would make something like this stand out to even the most dim-witted accountant or anyone who qualifies in IT.
    Definitely in that day and age, where dropped connections/incomplete sessions were very common and had to be taken into account when designing anything on a network…

    There’s no way people at Fujitsu didn’t know, and the PO did their damnedest to hide it after they knew. And flat-out lied about it in court.
    If that isn’t obstruction of the court, plus additional mopery and dopery I don’t know what is..

  13. Grikath,

    “Nothing intermittent about it. It’s a very specific, structural flaw in the software that should have been found/adressed at the design/test stage.”

    Well, they argued it was “intermittent”, but yes, I’m sure with the volumes of problems they could have spotted a pattern.

    In truth, Fujitsu probably wanted to fix easy bugs, and how many people at the Post Office gave a fuck? They were unfireable government employees. They probably wrote weak test plans and it all worked. And that’s all companies like Fujitsu care about – getting that sign-off.

  14. “crap clients … don’t do proper testing”: there we have it.

    I used to write lots of programs (as we called them in those days). There were three secrets of my success. (i) Good programming habits. Eventually I read Dijkstra and realised I’d been using his approach all along. Kudos to my original lecturer. (ii) As much as possible, assemble programs from subroutines that I’d used before and were therefore well tested in other applications. (iii) Test the new program for all sorts of special cases that might reveal errors.

    Judging by the hopeless models and vile code used by the Astrologer Royal to generate scare stories about Covid, this simple approach has become unfashionable. We don’t live in an age, apparently, where people perform searching tests simply because it would be unconscionable not to.

    Put otherwise, people with shitty morals (and maybe shitty intellects) produce shitty programs.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    dearieme,

    Why go to all that bother when you can use Goal Seek in Excel or similar tools? Is much faster and guarantees the answer you’re looking for.

  16. In that day and age? Not Excel.. Maybe (much tortured) dBase/LISP, but not Excel.
    Excel creep is more a N(au)oughties thing.

    And really.. Just a listing in Excel would immediately have shown anyone competent there was a Huge Pile of DooDoo in the way transactions were registered.
    I made money ( and embarassed Managers ) in the Naughties scouring financial DB’s with oddities exactly doing that… with Access/Excel..

  17. I recall doing an investigation for a friend as he wanted someone else to see if there was a real problem before he took it further. The errors all turned out to be innocent and were all inter-company transactions. Systems aren’t right and if you come from the right background you are primed to ask questions especially for black boxes.

    The real problem is people (and juries)just accepting the computer is correct, the first ever explanation I saw on this ages ago (most probably in the register) my thought was error not fraud and if on a jury would have been suspicious at the least.
    .

  18. The other issue is people’s belief in the ‘professional’, in this case a perjuror it seems which makes things worse.

  19. Whenever you read about some crazy miscarriage of justice where the prosecution hid information or in other ways must have known it was unsound, there does seem to be little sanction for having maliciously destroyed someone’s life

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