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Post Office rejects computer report

The Post Office is "concerned" by the findings of a report into an alleged glitch in its computer system that led to employees claiming they had been falsely accused of financial irregularities.

A review was conducted by forensic accountants Second Sight after more than 100 sub-postmasters said they were wrongly prosecuted for theft, fraud and false accounting because of problems with the Horizon computer software leading to shortfalls being generated in their accounts.

The review, commissioned by the Post Office, found that it failed in a number of cases to look at the cause for the shortfalls before beginning court proceedings, the BBC reported.

Responding, the Post Office said it was concerned the report "repeats complaints made by a very small number of former postmasters, as well as a number of assertions and opinions", adding that no evidence had been offered to support the claims.

A spokesman said: " Over the past three years there have been exhaustive investigations which have not found any evidence of systemic problems with the Horizon system.

"The mediation scheme was set up to address individual complaints and that is what we have gone to great lengths to do - a number are now resolved. The complaints are considered on their facts and substance."

Alan Bates, chairman of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, has previously said problems with the computer system had been reported since its introduction more than a decade ago.

The Post Office said there have been 150 applications to its Complaint Review and Mediation Scheme, established two years ago, out of almost 500,000 users.

Former Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who previously led the MPs' campaign in support of the sub-postmasters, repeated his call for an independent inquiry.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "It's right there have been huge numbers of transactions which have gone perfectly OK through the Horizon system but these 150 cases which the Post Office is talking about are cases of huge importance to the people themselves."

Mr Arbuthnot said it was not just because of the money involved but the human consequences, adding: "These people have been pillars of the community who have had their reputations dragged through the mud - some have been sent to prison, I understand at least one has committed suicide, they've been made bankrupt, they've had their contracts with the Post Office terminated.

"And the way they have been treated is an utter disgrace given the fact that so many of the 150, i f they say they haven't done these false transactions that a number of them said they have not, then I think there needs to be an independent inquiry, independent of the Post Office."


From Belfast Telegraph