Post Office Horizon public inquiry begins today

A public inquiry begins today into the UK Post Office’s Horizon accounting scandal that led to the widest miscarriage of justice in UK legal history.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a flaw in the accounting system, and many were put in prison for their apparent crimes.

The public inquiry is look at whether management of the Post Office know about the faults in the IT system and ask why staff were blamed for the problems wrongfully highlighted by the accounting system.

In one case, the accounting system said that Harjinder Butoy, the postmaster at Sutton-in-Ashfield was accused of embezzling £208,000 and was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months in jail. His conviction was overturned last year in the High Court.

“I was £500 short,” he explained, even though a supervisor had been with him the entire time, making sure he got to grips in his new role. “I didn’t think anything of it. But ever since then, it happened a lot.”

The Post Office has said it is “sincerely sorry” for the impact of the Horizon scandal, adding it is “in no doubt about the human cost.”

It said the inquiry will enable “many of those who were most deeply affected by Post Office’s past failings to voice their experiences and their testimonies must and will ensure all lessons are learned so that such events can never happen again”.

“In addressing the past, our first priority is that full, fair and final compensation is provided and we are making good progress,” it added.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu, the company behind the Horizon software, said it was “committed to providing the fullest and most transparent information so that key lessons are learned for the future”.

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