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15 Jun 11:45

About our Horizon IT Scandal news

Latest news on the Horizon scandal, in which the UK Post Office wrongfully accused a number of its sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses of theft and fraud due to errors in its Horizon IT system. This led to numerous wrongful convictions, financial ruin, and in some cases, the imprisonment of innocent individuals. It is considered one of the most significant miscarriages of justice in recent UK history.

The Horizon IT system, introduced by the Post Office in 1999, was used for tasks such as accounting and stocktaking. However, faults in the system led to apparent financial discrepancies, which were mistakenly attributed to the criminal actions of the post office operators. The Post Office ignored the complaints of the sub-postmasters and pursued legal action against them, resulting in prison sentences, financial ruin, and personal distress for many of them.

Eventually, the convictions were found to be unjust, and efforts were made to overturn them and compensate the affected individuals. The scandal raised serious questions about corporate governance, the legal system, and the reliance on digital systems in business operations.

The scandal came to light after a long legal battle by the sub-postmasters, who won a £58m settlement from the Post Office in 2019. The scandal has also sparked public outrage and calls for accountability and compensation for the victims. A TV drama based on the scandal, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, was aired on ITV in January 2024.

There has been a significant public outcry following the release of the ITV drama. Over 1,000,000 people have signed a petition calling for the former Post Office boss, Paula Vennells, to have her CBE stripped due to her role in the scandal. This surge in public interest and support for the victims has brought renewed attention to the issue.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has condemned the Horizon scandal as an "appalling miscarriage of justice", acknowledging the severe impact it had on the affected individuals. The Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, is actively examining ways to exonerate the hundreds of wrongfully convicted subpostmasters and sub-postmistresses. Discussions are ongoing regarding the potential to remove the Post Office's ability to investigate and prosecute, with the possibility of the Crown Prosecution Service taking over.

Lawyers representing the postmasters involved in the scandal believe there is enough evidence for a police investigation into senior Post Office figures. They suggest that the public inquiry has uncovered evidence of potential wrongdoing by these figures, who might have known about the system's failings but chose to ignore them. The legal teams are looking to have files passed to the director of public prosecutions once the inquiry concludes in 2025.

The public inquiry into the scandal is set to conclude next year, and it is expected to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the events and potentially lead to further actions against those responsible.


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