Jail ’em

At least 500 people were accused of theft as a result, some jailed, many ruined. We are only now, two decades later, now seeing the courts announcing that convictions were unsafe. Compensation was paid to some a few years back but at the usual voracious cost of no-win-no-fee lawyers. The reparations and reversals of convictions have yet to reach everyone effected by the scandal, and instead of blame being properly assigned to those responsible there’s a general miasma of ‘oops, mistakes were made and lessons will be learned’.

This isn’t good enough. The guilty are out there, we need to find them and bring them to justice – if not for that original, hopelessly stupid, programming mistake then at least for the backfilling and smoke blowing in the decades that followed. The rule of law is a vital underpinning of an economy that works.

8 thoughts on “Jail ’em”

  1. As well as a jailfest for PO senior executives, consider this too. “The system at the branch would regard that as a resend of the original, the one at Post Office headquarters would think it a new transaction.”

    It is truth universally acknowledged that a coder providing an under-tested program must be in want of a hanging.

  2. Not just the PO, what about the contractors for this shitefest? Fujitsu?

    Atomic transactions, irrevokation, transaction sequence numbers, sigh,… where’s my Ladybird book of the bleedin’ obvious bits of coding….was Fujitsu living in the 1950s?
    This sort of thing isn’t new and isn’t difficult, to anyone with more IQ than toes.

    Either the coders were criminally incompetent and the managers too inept to notice, or they were ‘just following orders’ from the criminally incompetent managers.
    Condemned either way: Hang both lots of them.

    Then start of the PO management lot – and their lawyers – who bullied these people with the “your’s is the only case of discrepancy” when they fully knew there were hundreds.

    Don’t just punish the taxpayers: find the guilty indivduals and make them pay for the damge they caused, then pay for their own nails and/or rope.

  3. Do I recall incorrectly, or did one or more people kill themselves over this? So not just fraud but also manslaughter charges should accrue.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Compensation was paid to some a few years back but at the usual voracious cost of no-win-no-fee lawyers.

    This paper tells the story of how the Bhopal victims ended up with nothing after the Indian government decided it didn’t want them represented in a New York court in an action brought by “voracious n-win-no-fee”.

    You can hear the author discuss it here. Its certainly changed my mind on the role of no-win-no-fee layers.

    I’d be willing to bet that without those lawyers there wouldn’t have been any compensation and the Horizon story would be nothing more than an occasionally discussion on the Internet.

  5. Surely it was the court’s job to render a correct and just verdict, and they didn’t?

    I suspect all this vociferous finger pointing is an attempt to distract from the fact that the courts fucked up royally.

  6. Bathroom Moose: the evidence presented was not complete or accurate, which makes the court’s job rather difficult.

  7. The Pedant-General


    “So not just fraud but also manslaughter charges should accrue.”

    This. The IT Director will have been hauled in to the board and been asked if there is anything they need to know about the system and he will repeat what he was told by his team and the contractors – it’s all fine.

    The people who need jailing are indeed the fraud prosecutors who lied to the defendants (that each one of hundreds was the only case) and then withheld exculpatory evidence. Make them defend themselves against murder charges.

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