I wasn’t going to write anymore about this and I don’t do a daily search of news relating to Post Office anymore. It’s in the past, but occasionally, like today, an article inadvertently pops up and draws my attention back to the past.
Post Office Ltd have always acted as if they were accountable only to themselves. The more they repeat inaccuracies the more they tend to believe them and as these go relatively unchallenged they accept them as the truth. That accountability is set to be challenged though through the courts and there will be severe repercussions from what will be (and is) a national scandal.
The article I refer to was printed in the Computer Weekly in April 2015 http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500245279/Criminal-Courts-Review-Commission-set-to-review-subpostmasters-claims-of-wrongful-prosecution
It was reporting on the news that the Criminal Case Review Commission would be reviewing several criminal convictions of former subpostmasters. (that was over two years ago and they still haven’t decided .. the delay being another scandal I fear that will emerge from this fiasco into why they have taken so long to clear innocent victims)
But I just want to pick up on one comment from Mark Davies, the Post Office Head of Communications at the time (I don’t really care if he still is or not).
“Like everyone, we want to know the facts, but we have to act on facts – not on unsubstantiated allegations. The position we have reached after three years of investigation is that there is absolutely no evidence at all that Horizon does not work as it should. Indeed it is robust and reliable.”
Three simple sentences that reveal so much about him and the company he works/worked for.
Like everyone, we want to know the facts: that is so obviously false. POL sacked the forensic accountants that were in the process of revealing the facts. A major concern of all involved in exposing the scandal is the complete lack of investigation by POL into the possibility that Horizon and/or internal system procedures may have been responsible for the losses incurred by the subpostmasters. That goes back to what I said earlier, if they believe that Horizon is robust and reliable then why would they check to see if it were not. The hole they have dug for themselves is incredibly large.
Unsubstantiated allegations: really? Seema Misra was convicted of theft based on TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED EVIDENCE produced by POL – even the Judge more or less said so – no evidence was produced that proved she stole a penny. Of course Like everyone the defence wanted to know the facts but POL denied them access to the incredibly named KNOWN ERROR LOG. Why would they do this? And of course it later emerged that the POL Legal team were deliberately hiding a current known Horizon error from Seema and her defence team. What is absolutely incredible is that the CCRC know all about this and two years later haven’t seen fit to put Seema out of her misery – appalling behaviour.
The position we have reached after three years of investigation is that there is absolutely no evidence at all that Horizon does not work as it should: This is almost laughable if the situation wasn’t so serious. Either these people really do not have the intelligence and ability to identify mistakes in the system or they are telling complete porkies. It is one or the other. Stupid or Liars – perhaps both. Which part of the title “KNOWN ERRORS LOG” don’t they understand?
Which leads me to this: Indeed it is robust and reliable
This is an extremely important sentence. This is from a message Mark Davies sent to all subpostmasters. He is telling them that there is absolutely no reason for you, as a subpostmaster, to query the reliability of Horizon. No need at all to look for any errors in the system.
- During the trial of Seema Misra the Post Office Prosecution team directly contradicted this statement in order to get Seema Misra convicted of theft. They produced evidence to suggest that Seema was computer literate enough to recognise an error generated by the computer. They even stated that a computer error would be OBVIOUS to the user. But please explain why she would bother to look for an error when Mr Davies and his boss, Paula Vennels repeatedly state that there are no errors and this after spending three years looking for ones. Why spend three years looking for errors that you don’t believe exist?
- Warranty by representation. I have covered this before, but to re-emphasise, in the absence of limitation of liability and warranty clauses with regard to the use of Horizon in the subpostmasters’ contracts, the subpostmasters are reliant on the warranty implied by such representations made by Davies and Vennells. These idiots state that there are no errors in the system yet acknowledge the existence of the Known Errors log. Only a complete fool would then go and seemingly rely on the fact that Horizon handles billions of transactions correctly as evidence that the system has no faults. Statistics prove otherwise and it is pointless to describe the nonsense of such any further.
Yes indeed – the things these fools said will come back and bite them hard. They are public officers subject to the law regarding the holding of such office and as readers of my earlier blogs will know, a criminal investigation has been opened into their conduct, awaiting the outcome of the CCRC review. Prison sentences are mandatory for those found guilty.
POL are not unaccountable. They are accountable to the courts, to the government, to the public purse, but most of all to the hundreds of subpostmasters that have fallen victim to POL’s arrogant and dumb behaviour. They are soon to learn just how accountable they truly are.