I've followed this matter a little bit as I work in the I.T. industry. I don't live in the UK and have no knowledge of the actors. The government response, including this announcement is shockingly deficient and on the low side of the impact. For a start - it only targets those who were convicted. It does not take into account all actors adversely impacted including falsely accused but not convicted. It doesn't take into account the circumstances of the victims. The government does not at all seem inclined to take any substantive action on this matter other than writing a cheque.
Open question to those in the UK closer to this - How do you see the government's response? What is the public sentiment on the matter. Does anyone have any insight why charges are not being pursued against Post Office Management in light of substantial evidence of wrong doing?
I live in the UK. It's bizarrely barely news. The scale of it is staggering yet the media coverage is small. Well it feels small to me. I don't see any public outrage about this. Part of me thinks it's because it's sort of an institution like the NHS and critisizing it is a no no (though it has been privitized).
I want to see heads roll at the post office. As far as I can remember staff knew about the software issues but covered them up.
Also why wasn't the burden of proof on the software developers to prove to the court it was correct? Can the vendor be held accountable?
And lastly, the bonuses the board have paid themselves for cooperating with the enquirey, that's truly sickening. It's rotten on so many levels. It's money for sending innocent people to prison.
I agree. There are a lot more victims of the Post offices crimes who paid the difference or were fired from their jobs that are not being compensated, the true scale of the problem is much larger than just those convicted.
What astonishes me about this response is that we have clear criminal action by executives in the Post Office, they knew the system was faulty and they still went ahead with the legal cases. These executives have crimes they need to be tried for in court. This is a criminal matter against the staff of the Post office and its just not being dealt with correctly at all. The Post Office should be paying a lot of people accused compensation.
What I can't comprehend is the scale of the failure of the justice system here. Unless I am mistaken there were hundreds of victims over more than a decade. So 700 trials, in which the judges and the juries failed these people. How can such a systemic failure happen? It paints a very poor picture of the justice system in the UK ...
It's because Post Office bosses failed to disclose the facts. This was/is a systematic cover-up. What I don't understand is why the people responsible for this, such as then CEO Paula Vennells, do not face criminal charges.
The thing that confuses me... where did the supposedly lost money go? From my very basic understanding, the computer system said there was a gap in accounting, so it was assumed to be the operator that took it. There must have been millions of £ in "lost" money, but actual accounts couldn't have shown the loss, because there wasn't. Were these convictions purely based on the data from a computer system, with no forensics accounts of the theft or where the proceeds ended up?
My current theory is that the 'justice' system is set up basically to punish a 'criminal' class, often overlapping with the lower class.
The middle and upper class don't really have much interaction, they just fondly imagine that the justice system upholds the values it espouses.
The 'criminal' class aren't so much identified by a fair trial, or evidence, but by what sounds about right.
This system may work well for moving actual criminals through the sausage factory, but falls down spectacularly in cases like this, where the 'obvious' or most likely gut feeling isn't correct.
You can subscribe to Private Eye here for £38 a year with an issue through your letterbox every fortnight
+1 for Private Eye.
Real investigative journalism, holding politicians to account, all whist taking the piss in classic British style.
If Private Eye hadn't investigated this, who would have?
Oh they have a podcast, how intriguing
No news about convicts being let go earlier or a little bit after yet? Some software in the uk is really just good looking bugs that work for the most straight forward use case and nothing else. Difficult to maintain attention to detail when the product management culture is to make changes for the sake of changes.
They did answer my first question after reading the headline...
"The government said the new compensation offer was in addition to paying for all reasonable legal fees, and any post office operator who does not want to accept it can continue with the existing legal process."
What i am curious though is if they’ll be taxed on the money. Of so that means the compensation is far lower.
Any prosecutions yet for the people behind the scandal?
Get real, this is the UK, in fact if you follow the progression of some of the key players, they are now manipulating politicians.
So once politicians learn to give the bird to the media headlights, you might start to see this country cleaned up, ironically I think Russell Brand can probably do more to clean up the media and their witch hunts than any member of the Royal Family or Govt.
Personally I think £600k is an insult!
Fujitsu? I am sure the link is only the company name, but the Japanese government contracted out the ID card deployment largely to them, leading to a catastrophic rollout:
Some were able to do bank related activities as unrelated people because their cards were issued around the same time, and this thing will be our medical insurance ID at the end of 2024
It's high time the UK sorted out the Tories (who caused the whole thing with their "assholery"). They have systematically raped the country of its wealth during the years they were in charge. County councils going bankrupt because Tories deliberately starved Labour run councils of money. Our beautiful NHS going into the shitter because they are starving in preparation for US style health care that will cost billions. This post office scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll see.
There was an excellent Radio 4 series about this scandal, available as a podcast here - https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-great-post-office-...
A few mentions of Private Eye pushing the story. True, but also worth mentioning The Register and, especially, Computer Weekly who actually broke the story: https://archive.ph/OYJwW
The Post Office hasn't been privatised. The company is still owned by the state. Individual subpostmasters run their branches as their own semi-independent businesses using the Post Office brand - but it has always been this way in most of the country.
It's Royal Mail (the letters and parcel delivery side of things) that was privatised.
I did not know this, thanks :)
> the media coverage is small
I was mostly driving yesterday, and it had significant radio coverage. LBC even interviewed a former 'post-mistress' that suffered a custodial prison sentence, and was furious this compensation wasn't sufficient. She was convicted of taking £59k and she got a 9 month term (half of which was released with tag).
Considering people who lost their career, marriages, houses etc. I get it! Imagine your children thinking you are a convicted thief.
This was her, https://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2021-04-23/never-thought-t...
I think part of the reason for relative quietness is: after 30 years of privatisation drives, what is left of the Post Office is just another business with some extra regulatory burden. "Business Screwing Up" happens every day and is hardly news.
This said, thank goodness some free press still exists in the UK. Without Private Eye, these folks would never have seen even the little justice they received.
I don't think that's really it - the public has some appetite for corporate scandal, modulo short attentive spans, and the human element really sells the story.
Unfortunately, we absolutely do have a free press here, it's just been captured by bastards who use their freedom to aid and abet other bastards. I hope hell is inventing new tortures for Murdoch and the dead Barclay.
> I live in the UK. It's bizarrely barely news.
I'm willing to bet only Private Eye readers (where to story broke and who continue to demand justice) are aware of this debacle and the shear scale of misery it has caused; all due to software being considered infallible.
Shearing is for sheep
I agree. One point that is often missed is that those same executives were financially incentivised for Horizon to work by having their £1m+ bonuses tied to it.
They need to be held accountable and jailed if found guilty.
This is the key. The prosecutions were all "private prosecutions" by the post office, in which a private entity begins (and sometimes carries through to end) a prosecution _on behalf of the people_.
There is an enormous amount of incredible litigation behaviour by the post office in this case. The problem for them is: it all came to trial in the end and its there for everyone to read in painful detail.
Here is, for example, the post office trying to remove the judge in the case after it all started unraveling:
And in 929 of https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2019/3408.html the Judge writes of Post office senior officers refusal to accept to flaws of Horizon even very late in the game:
"This approach by the Post Office has amounted, in reality, to bare assertions and denials that ignore what has actually occurred, at least so far as the witnesses called before me in the Horizon Issues trial are concerned. It amounts to the 21st century equivalent of maintaining that the earth is flat. "
>This is the key. The prosecutions were all "private prosecutions" by the post office, in which a private entity begins (and sometimes carries through to end) a prosecution _on behalf of the people_.
And to top it all off, this particular "private entity" is state owned.
What I don't understand is why a drop-in CEO decides to go to bat so relentlessly for a system that they didn't select and a vendor they have no prior connection to.
It's the sort of thing you'd expect from the chairman of a 15 generation family company, not some walk-in recruitee.
From reading the trial notes listed below I'd genuinely be astonished if they could answer that question. The 3rd line support staff (!!!) were literally inserting records into the database to balance transactions (!!!) using the command line client and stored procedures. Also, they were doing that based on their own understanding of the issue which had occurred and the action that needed to be taken to remedy the issue, and the records that were being inserted were indistinguishable from 'conventionally entered' transactions. In addition, some other level of staff - it seems like yet another layer of DBAs - had root on the database with no audit trail beyond logon/logoff.
The sheer number of routine failures that appear to have been accepted as part of the normal operation of the system is astonishing.
Byline Times follows a very similar model, only with less humour: https://bylinetimes.com/
Infuriatingly irregular though (I will concede the last couple of months haven't been too bad.) Also a bit short but I suppose it's essentially a trailer for the magazine and going longer may cannibalise those sales.
Some about that here: https://www.rossmartin.co.uk/private-client-a-estate-plannin...
Though that's talking about the prior monies paid, and not specifically this.
They may have already had to pay for bed and board for free accomodation they got while in prison:
I remember David blunket introducing this ghastly mechanism and being shocked that no one cared. He was an awful home secretary.
I believe compensation doesn't count as taxable income.
Wait until you read about this guy
The maximum compensation you can get in the UK is around 1.1 million IIRC. They were going to deduct several hundred thousand pounds from that for "room and board" while he was in jail, leaving him with just over 700k
I don't think you read TFA, which anyway had a misleading title. He would not be charged for his prison costs. It appears to be a factor in determining compensation.
It looks to me like they are basing it on how much he would have earned had he been free to work, in which context you can see the logic of deducting costs he would have incurred. I find this callous and despicable, but the problem is related to determining the value of a human life - there isn't really an answer, yet guidance is needed for consistency between cases.
How would you approach it?
I think £2m should be enough for a reasonably comfortable retirement in most of the UK, and that over 10 years is enough of a person's liberty taken to warrant providing that.
Should someone get more if they were a high earner?
I'd like compensation to come out of the DPP budget, to align incentives properly, but starving that department might result in less justice instead of more.
Russel Brand? Isn't his career practically over now, after the recent allegations?
As long as we hold onto the USENET tradition, that all posts pointing out a spelling or grammatical error must themselves contain such an error. Including punctuation.