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Post Office ‘understands profound mistrust’ after delays in Horizon inquiry disclosures | UK News


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A Post Office legal representative understands the “profound mistrust” following a list of disclosure failings throughout the Horizon IT inquiry.

A further disclosure setback in November, in which about 363,000 emails were found on a “legacy” mailing system – one that doesn’t meet current technological standards – resulted in witnesses being delayed.

Chris Jackson, a lawyer representing the Post Office, apologised for the delay.

Before the latest disclosure failings, the inquiry had been held up by hard copy documents being found in new Post Office locations and the misuse of search terms in the disclosure exercise.

Screen grab taken from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry of Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson apologised for the delay on behalf of the Post Office

Other failings contributing to the delay included:
• Relevant emails not being disclosed to the investigation
• Failing to consider “families” of documents
• Not disclosing names of those blind copied into emails (when the name is not visible to other recipients)
• Failing to disclose documents on back-up tapes

Mr Jackson said the disclosure issues were “deeply and understandably frustrating to the inquiry, to postmasters and their families… and to those witnesses who have been affected”.

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Wrongly convicted postmaster describes ordeal

Between 1999 and 2015, thousands of people running post offices around the UK were unjustifiably hounded and prosecuted after bogus shortfalls appeared on their computer systems.

More on Post Office Scandal

More than 700 Post Office branch managers were given criminal convictions after the faulty Fujitsu accounting software – called Horizon – made it appear as though money was missing from their shops.

Former post office worker Noel Thomas, who was convicted of false accounting in 2006, celebrates with his daughter Sian outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, after having his conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal. Thirty-nine former subpostmasters who were convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting because of the Post Office's defective Horizon accounting system have had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal. Picture date: Friday April 23, 2021.
More than 700 Post Office branch managers received criminal convictions, including Noel Thomas (pictured), who had his overturned

The scandal crippled families, with victims describing losing their homes, marriages failing, and deterioration of health among other troubles. It has been linked to at least four suicides.

A statutory inquiry opened in 2021 into what has been described as the “worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history”.

It previously looked at the human impact of the scandal, the rollout of Horizon, and its operation – and now is probing the action taken against sub-postmasters.

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Post Office convictions ‘will be overturned’

Read more on the scandal:
Investigators ‘offered bonuses’ to prosecute sub-postmasters
Mass exoneration of sub-postmasters ‘right thing to do’, says minister
Scottish victims placed in ‘intolerable’ position

In November, Jason Beer KC, counsel for the inquiry, said it was “the conduct” of the Post Office that was “standing in our way” of calling witnesses.

He had said: “We as your counsel want to get on with the business of progress in this inquiry. But the conduct of one of the core participants is presently standing in our way.”

Mr Beer added that the series of disclosure failings were “etched in the memory” of the counsel.

Mr Jackson said that since he began representing the Post Office in May 2023, “all the professional advisers working for Post Office on the inquiry… are behaving properly and professionally, working intensively and with significant resource, to provide all requested evidence to the inquiry”.

“Were it ever to be suggested otherwise, that would be a matter of profound professional concern,” he added

On Thursday at the inquiry, former investigator Stephen Bradshaw denied he and others “behaved like mafia gangsters” in the criminal probe of several sub-postmasters.

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Written by: radioroxi

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