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Miscarriage of Justice

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 Greenbanks 23 Apr 2021

...on an industrial scale! This really does deserve wide attention. 700+ people: lives totally messed up.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56859357

In reply to Greenbanks:

I would now like to see senior Post Office staff receiving comparable sentences for covering up the flaws in the horizon system.

 mondite 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Its been reported on for several years in Private Eye and The Registry (IT news site). It is absolutely appalling.

The PO/Fujitsu got an independent company in to audit it but when it became clear the report would be providing a massive list of flaws they just ended the contract and kept up the legal action.

Hopefully some people will be held properly accountable. The judge in the first set of cases did send a recommendation to the CPS that a couple of the Fujitsu witnesses be investigated for being lying bastards (I might be paraphrasing the legal terminology used here).

There was a recent bit of slightly cheering news when the Welsh FA not only showed one of the former PO execs the door but also booted out the CEO for being stupid enough to hire her.

Hopefully they will all become equally radioactive even if they dont end up in court.

 Cobra_Head 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Disgraceful it's taken so long to sort out, Radio 4 did a series about it.

 neilh 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Cobra_Head:

The Radio 4 series is excellent and mindboggling.

Quite agree that people at the PO should be prosecuted for lying.

 derryclimbs 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

wow, watching that poor woman's account of what her partner went through is truly upsetting. No amount of compensation or apologies or anything can give her the 20 years of peaceful living they deserved. 

In reply to Ridge:

> I would now like to see senior Post Office staff receiving comparable sentences for covering up the flaws in the horizon system.

Perverting the course of justice usually carries stuff penalties. Such charges should certainly be brought in this case; post office management knew the system was flawed, but pressed ahead with convictions anyway, rather than admit the flaws. Utterly disgraceful.

Post edited at 13:17
 Greenbanks 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Yes - and sadly, several of the accused died prior to them being absolved.

I have always regarded the staff at the Post Office in my local small town as being incredibly reliable & trustworthy. The kind of person you'd worry less about your child approaching for help...an old-fashioned view, maybe.

It must have been terrible - its taken such a long time for this to reach a conclusion (not that it has yet of course. I see the CEO of the Post Office has commendably indicated that significant compensation is due...

 mondite 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

> Yes - and sadly, several of the accused died prior to them being absolved.

Including at least one who took their own life due to this.

Private Eye have made their special report on it available free

https://www.private-eye.co.uk/pictures/special_reports/justice-lost-in-the-post.pdf

In reply to Greenbanks:

I really don't have adequate words for the bile I feel towards the PO and Fujitsu over this scandal. The filth at the top who knew they were wrong but carried on regardless deserve to be utterly destroyed financially and professionally, be plunged into destitution, publicly vilified and jailed.

 Tringa 23 Apr 2021
In reply to rj_townsend:

This is really awful. Another story about it - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56718036 - includes

"It accepted it had previously "got things wrong in [its] dealings with a number of postmasters", and agreed to pay £58m in damages.

The claimants received a share of £12m, after legal fees were paid."

I can't understand why, when a court has the PO were at fault, the PO does not have to pay the claimants' legal fees.

Also why, it seems, no one at the post office thought it at least odd there were over 700 prosecutions all associated with the new Horizon system.

Although the claimants will have to go the court again I do hope they get substantial damages.

Dave

 wintertree 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Tringa:

Many things about this beggar belief, but...

> Also why, it seems, no one at the post office thought it at least odd there were over 700 prosecutions all associated with the new Horizon system.

You'd expect both the post office and the court system to sounding alarm bells at some point.

> Although the claimants will have to go the court again I do hope they get substantial damages.

I hope to see the culpable people from the post office go to prison.

 mondite 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Tringa:

> Also why, it seems, no one at the post office thought it at least odd there were over 700 prosecutions all associated with the new Horizon system.

Oh they knew it was odd and they knew it was badly flawed but they decided it was easier to blame the postmasters than fix the piece of shit and possibly lose some profit and hence bonuses.

Thats the utterly unforgivable bit here. It isnt that they made an honest mistake about the systems reliability but that they knew it was a pile of shit and did their best to suppress that.

As an aside Paula Vennells (the CEO at the time) remains a member of the C of E ethical investments group. I can only assume they ask her opinion and then do the exact opposite.

In reply to Tringa:

> This is really awful. Another story about it - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56718036 - includes

> "It accepted it had previously "got things wrong in [its] dealings with a number of postmasters", and agreed to pay £58m in damages.

> The claimants received a share of £12m, after legal fees were paid."

> I can't understand why, when a court has the PO were at fault, the PO does not have to pay the claimants' legal fees.

> Also why, it seems, no one at the post office thought it at least odd there were over 700 prosecutions all associated with the new Horizon system.

> Although the claimants will have to go the court again I do hope they get substantial damages.

> Dave

Personally I'd rather the PO were liable for every penny of all legal costs, both the defence and the wrongful prosecutions' at the original trials and the appeals. The costs incurred in imprisoning those who shouldn't have ever been there, the police investigations and every single cost incurred by those wronged should also be paid. By 5pm today.

 Siward 23 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

Vennels has thus far escaped scot free whereas she properly deserves a jail sentence. It is ever thus- it's publicly owned but the government accepts zero responsibility for its doings and the buck simply doesn't know where to stop. 

 Wainers44 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

In effect this cost our community its Post Office branch as well as costing the poor sub post master his freedom,  livelihood, and his marriage. 

You do wonder that if any of the poor souls wrongly accused here have taken their own lives, then wouldn't this be Corporate Manslaughter by the PO?

 Ian W 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Wainers44:

> In effect this cost our community its Post Office branch as well as costing the poor sub post master his freedom,  livelihood, and his marriage. 

> You do wonder that if any of the poor souls wrongly accused here have taken their own lives, then wouldn't this be Corporate Manslaughter by the PO?


At least one of them has. The conduct of the post office senior management and their legal teams has been beyond words. They continued with prosecutions after it had been proven that the system was flawed. They didn't even pause for thought.

 neilh 23 Apr 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Worth listening to the Radio 4 series on it. The alarm bells were ringing in the forensic consultnat appointed by the PO to adjudicate on it back in something  like 2010.The victims thought at first he was only on the PO's side, but he realised something was wrong when he realised the PO were handling related claims from unconnected Post office submasters who did not know each other.Usually in fraud nobody else is connected and it is a one off incident.

Post edited at 15:40
In reply to Ian W:

> At least one of them has. The conduct of the post office senior management and their legal teams has been beyond words. They continued with prosecutions after it had been proven that the system was flawed. They didn't even pause for thought.

If ever there is a time for judicial vengeance, this is it. All those involved need to be hounded without respite, dragged through court after court with every single aspect of their flawed decision-making scrutinised without pity. Both the PO and Fujitsu need to throw those involved under a bus and support their prosecution without hesitation.

It's rare for me to feel so utterly vicious but those who continued with these prosecutions despite knowing they were false and unsafe deserve to end their days humiliated, penniless, starving and preferably incarcerated in a glass-sided cell with a baying mob pounding on the glass trying to get to them.

 Greenbanks 23 Apr 2021
In reply to rj_townsend:

Excellent, deserved rant.

 wercat 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

It has received wide attention and I think it is a statement about this country that so many people suffered for so long at the hands of so few.

In that the Post Office (the prosecutor in these cases) not so much denied the defendants access to key information but rather actively misinformed them that they solely encountered problems with the "system"  and that no other operators of the "system" had had the same problems I assert after due consideration that

there is a prima facie case against the Post Office (corporately and as individual managers) that there was a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.  This is a very serious crime in that it has resulted in false criminal convictions as well as bringing the justice system of England and Wales into disrepute.

Off Duty, could we get these bastards nailed?

Post edited at 16:01
In reply to mondite:

> Oh they knew it was odd and they knew it was badly flawed but they decided it was easier to blame the postmasters than fix the piece of shit and possibly lose some profit and hence bonuses.

> Thats the utterly unforgivable bit here. It isnt that they made an honest mistake about the systems reliability but that they knew it was a pile of shit and did their best to suppress that.

> As an aside Paula Vennells (the CEO at the time) remains a member of the C of E ethical investments group. I can only assume they ask her opinion and then do the exact opposite.

Is this her?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paula-vennells-0999a2140/

 wercat 23 Apr 2021
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Nice to see Dido Harding featuring in the protection of Vennels isn't it?

- but just typical of the cabal that rules us now

https://minhalexander.com/2020/06/11/post-office-horizon-scandal-how-dido-harding-helped-to-recycle-paula-vennells-fppr-and-a-suggestion-for-the-beis-minister/

this is totally sickening - in earlier ages stuff like this led to the tumbril and then the guillotine

if you feel disgusted please register with a dislike

Post edited at 16:54
In reply to Greenbanks:

> I see the CEO of the Post Office has commendably indicated that significant compensation is due...

How do you compensate someone for spending 3 years and 4 months of their life in prison. As well as a very large lump of cash to all those accused the people responsible need to lose their liberty for a comparable length of time and be left with a criminal record. 

In reply to Dax H:

> How do you compensate someone for spending 3 years and 4 months of their life in prison. As well as a very large lump of cash to all those accused the people responsible need to lose their liberty for a comparable length of time and be left with a criminal record. 

Handsomely 

 elsewhere 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

> ...on an industrial scale! This really does deserve wide attention. 700+ people: lives totally messed up.

You'd think the other 700+ cases could appeal their convictions as even against a genuine fraudster the evidence from the PO/Fujitsu system can never be beyond reasonable doubt.

 neilh 23 Apr 2021
In reply to elsewhere:

Some people can box off an issue and move in.  Same with Hillsboroughsome families  involved just closed it off and made new life’s and forgot about it.  Best buried otherwise you can become tormented by it.  
 

 Greenbanks 23 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

This scandalous issue “best being buried” is precisely what the Post Office and Vennells hoped would happen. Amoral and snout-troughing f*ckers. Not easy for their victims to forget.

 Pedro50 23 Apr 2021
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Is this her?

Yes I've sent her a connection request.

 neilh 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Misunderstanding. I was saying some people just want to move on . It does not mean it should be buried. There  were quite a few families for example from Hillsborough who wanted that. It will be the same here.  That is why they chose not to be involved.

not all victims in every case can stand the turmoil that this sort of campaign takes .

Does not mean they are wrong or right.   
 

Post edited at 20:14
 Wainers44 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Replying to someone else's deleted message....

There is a point in time approach to this but the issue here is that it became clear that their system was not only broken it was totally unreliable.  Way beyond that becoming clear peoples lives were still being ruined by totally spurious investigations and prosecutions based on lies.

I find it hard to be sympathetic towards anyone senior in the PO who stood by and did nothing.  I wonder how that view in their mirror looks each morning. 

 mondite 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Wainers44:

> Way beyond that becoming clear peoples lives were still being ruined by totally spurious investigations and prosecutions based on lies.

Yup. Reading the reports its clear they knew fairly early on it was badly flawed but chose to ignore it.

The judge in the trial which found the first 6 innocent was absolutely scathing and went so far as to send a file to the public prosecution office recommending that several of the witnesses be investigated.

 jasonC abroad 23 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

As others have said the Radio 4 series is very good, it's currently being aired again, 10 episodes of 15 minutes each, if you want to give your rage gland a good work out have a listen to it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000jfyv

Paula Vennells (she's an Anglican priest as well) and others in the Post Office knew about what was going on and did nothing to stop it, seems like they a lot to prevent the forensic accountants from doing their job, some of them should be in prison.

 timjones 23 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

> Yup. Reading the reports its clear they knew fairly early on it was badly flawed but chose to ignore it.

> The judge in the trial which found the first 6 innocent was absolutely scathing and went so far as to send a file to the public prosecution office recommending that several of the witnesses be investigated.

How can our legal system can be so fundamentally flawed!

 mondite 23 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> How can our legal system can be so fundamentally flawed!

Part of the problem seems to be that the PO has its own investigation team and was also responsible for the court cases as a private prosecutor.  In several cases they managed to bully people into paying off the initial errors before the amounts got to high for them to do so.

So I can see why for each individual case a judge and jury would be convinced.

You had the experts saying the system was perfect and also having evidence of the defendant having paid back initial fees.

Its only once you start looking beyond each case that it definitely starts smelling although admittedly as a software developer who works on distributed systems I would be instantly suspicious of the software claims.

In reply to Tringa:

>I can't understand why, when a court has the PO were at fault, the PO does not have to pay the claimants' legal fees.

I can help you there. Following some exceptionally stupid reforms made by Cameron's government to help their friends in the insurance industry, impecunious claimants who win now have to pay any success fees the lawyers charge out of their own damages.

jcm

 Welsh Kate 23 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

Have a read of The Secret Barrister's two books Stories of the Law and how it's broken and particularly Fake Law: the truth about justice in an age of lies.

Both frightening eye-openers about the shocking state our criminal justice system has been allowed to decline to.

In reply to Welsh Kate:

It's often asked how barristers can defend terrible people. That to me is obvious.

However,  I'm curious how a barrister could prosecute cases like this. They must have known they were attempting to send innocent people to prison - it's been clear for anyone trading private eye for years. The idea that hundreds of postmasters were bent is obviously nonsensical. Yet they happily went ahead.

In reply to wercat:

Yes, this moves from being a civil matter to a criminal one. As you, and someone else has said above, this was perverting the course of justice on a grand scale.

 wercat 24 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> How can our legal system can be so fundamentally flawed!


Any faults in the legal system apart there was a criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by giving false information and by denying relevant information to defendants so that the the justice system could not provide them with any effective defence.

Can you think of any crime more damning?  Under the current administration of course there is little chance of high ups being treated as anything as favourites by the likes of the Cabal and of course acolytes like Dido Harding (a fellow jockey to Matt Hancock)

I'd support rioting in the streets to overthrow this foul heap of corruption.  I used the word cabal yesterday of this administration-by-dictat and I note that one of the last decent  conservatives, Dominic Grieve, used the same word this morning when he described Johnson as a "Vacuum of Integrity".   Nick Robinson of the Boris Broadcasting Corporation then used the "Remoaner" word on him, as per form.

What can we do?

Post edited at 09:29
In reply to wercat:

His choice of words 'vacuum of integrity' has a lovely double meaning.

 neilh 24 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

You do know that it was a Tory MP that helped the sub posties and realised something was wrong???

Try listening to the excellent Radio 4 series on. it. 

Post edited at 10:15
 wercat 24 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

I've been following the story for a number of years on and off R4 and yes I'm not denying that there are decent tories.  However it has to be conceded that it was the Tory party that elected Boris as its leader and has corporate guilt that includes every party member who so voted

That was followed as a natural and probable consequence by a purge of decent conservatives and the members must be presumed to have intended that consequence.

I'm not biased against conservatives - I backed Ted Heath and on occasion Thatcher and my opinions on breaches of the Nuremburg Articles by the Blair-Bush Axis I have made clear.

Post edited at 10:28
 neilh 24 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

Well let us see if something is done against the PO.  

just to me looks like a similar whitewashing as to when things go badly wrong like in the NHS or other govt areas. Nobody takes responsibility 

I listened to Vince Cable on this and I thought the PO issues had been running on since 2008  . There seems to be a lot of washing of hands of responsibility across quite a few people including him.    

In reply to Greenbanks:

Criminals. Sociopathic criminals is what these people are. The injustice here is so absurd that in my view they should throw away the key. The people that knowingly continued the prosecutions, the people that buried the report, the people that in the view of the judge potentially committed perjury cannot be allowed to be out in society.

 timjones 24 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> Any faults in the legal system apart there was a criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by giving false information and by denying relevant information to defendants so that the the justice system could not provide them with any effective defence.

> Can you think of any crime more damning?  Under the current administration of course there is little chance of high ups being treated as anything as favourites by the likes of the Cabal and of course acolytes like Dido Harding (a fellow jockey to Matt Hancock)

> I'd support rioting in the streets to overthrow this foul heap of corruption.  I used the word cabal yesterday of this administration-by-dictat and I note that one of the last decent  conservatives, Dominic Grieve, used the same word this morning when he described Johnson as a "Vacuum of Integrity".   Nick Robinson of the Boris Broadcasting Corporation then used the "Remoaner" word on him, as per form.

> What can we do?

Surely we should be able to rely on the legal system to ensure that people are not convisted due to such conspiracies?

I'm no fan of the current administation but surely this predated their election?

In reply to timjones:

> I'm no fan of the current administation but surely this predated their election?

Yes  this disgrace has been rumbling away for over a decade, across multiple governments. The Horizon system was introduced in 1999, and prosecutions started in the mid 00's.

In reply to timjones:

> Surely we should be able to rely on the legal system to ensure that people are not convisted due to such conspiracies?

Until a conspiracy is uncovered, it's hard to see how.

That's why the law takes a very dim view of perjury and perversion of the course of justice, to attempt to act as a preventive measure. Let's hope the law is applied to the fullest extent in this case.

 timjones 24 Apr 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > Surely we should be able to rely on the legal system to ensure that people are not convisted due to such conspiracies?

> Until a conspiracy is uncovered, it's hard to see how.

> That's why the law takes a very dim view of perjury and perversion of the course of justice, to attempt to act as a preventive measure. Let's hope the law is applied to the fullest extent in this case.

How many cases did it take for those who work in our legal system to smell a rat, maybe I'm naive but I really hoped that they were a little bit sharper than us mere mortals

 fred99 24 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Well let us see if something is done against the PO.

I would much prefer it if rather than the PO being held accountable - which would adversely affect untold numbers of the ordinary workers; Posties and such like - that the INDIVIDUALS involved in the computer errors, covering up of those errors, and most importantly those involved (at ALL levels) in the prosecutions were taken to court personally, and hopefully both fined (to provide compensation to the innocent) and incarcerated for an equivalent period that all their victims suffered - or preferably twice that.

On too many occasions, those who work for a major (governmental) organisation that commit crimes have their (former ?) organisation pay the bill, and frequently have said organisation foot the bill for their legal defence as well, whilst they sit back and eventually retire on their ill-gotten gains. It is about time that the guilty paid the price themselves, rather than the taxpayer.

 wercat 24 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

I didn't attach blame for conspiracy of which the Post Office senior management are guilty to the current government.  However, no action has been taken against the CEO or her juniors and it would appear that she herself is in favour with the administration.

 wercat 24 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> How many cases did it take for those who work in our legal system to smell a rat, maybe I'm naive but I really hoped that they were a little bit sharper than us mere mortals


A key piece of very pertinent and material evidence upon which the defences would have depended, and which goes right to the heart of each case, was falsified by the Post Office in denying that any other user of Horizon had encountered problems - ie that the discrepancies might have had a cause other than the dishonesty of sub postmasters.  This is why the conspiracy is a criminal matter and successfully perverted the course of justice in so many cases.

For that the senior managers involved in the conspiracy should be facing lengthy jail terms rather than being picked for senior NHS roles

 mondite 24 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> How many cases did it take for those who work in our legal system to smell a rat, maybe I'm naive but I really hoped that they were a little bit sharper than us mere mortals

A lot of the cases seem to have been plea bargain style so the only time the legal system saw them it was a simple guilty plea and just the sentencing. They would have also been spread all over the country and for several years so its not like a single judge would have been seeing several dozen of them.

Since they had their own investigation and prosecution team the police and CPS wouldnt really have sight of it either.

 timjones 24 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

How the hell do so many innocent people get legal advice to plea bargain?

 Monk 24 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

My local postmaster was caught up in this. Absolutely no one in the village believed it, but he went through hell. So terribly sad that it took 15 years for the truth to come out. 

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> How the hell do so many innocent people get legal advice to plea bargain?

I guess the question is how many got good legal advice? Since its a private investigation and prosecution I am not sure the normal rights that you have if arrested by the police apply so you would have to pay for everything from the start.

Whilst in theory their union should have represented them but the National federation of subpostmasters did a poor job and was specifically criticised for being too close to the PO management. The CWU did a better job but only represented a small number of the victims.

 Greenbanks 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

> A start:

>  

Would someone with a better legal mind help me here. 

As has been proven now, that senior people at the PO and Fujitsu knowingly withheld  info and worse, continued to pursue the Post Masters even though they knew the IT was flawed, what can actually be done about it?

 Greenbanks 26 Apr 2021
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Presumably the charge of perjury must be somewhere in the mix?

 Siward 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

Because in any individual case the evidence will have appeared overwhelming, the chances of conviction by the jury very high, and a plea to a lesser offence would likely have been the only hope if avoiding prison. Hobsons choice. 

In reply to Greenbanks:

I wonder if they can be personally sued for damages, 00's of claims against her as CEO at the time should help increase her stress levels appropriately. Insurance much less likely to cover if illegality involved.

In reply to Greenbanks:

Just wondering, does it need all of the 700+ to go to court or does each court case "test" a different set of circumstances that can then be applied to other similar cases without a court case being necessary.

 Greenbanks 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

Yes. I wonder if a ‘class action’ would be possible (or permissible) in the UK system. Need input from one of UKC’s legal eagles here...

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

Just remember she was onlyin her role from 2010 to 2015. This started off before then and carried on after she left. There are plenty of other people who also need to carry the can.

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> As has been proven now, that senior people at the PO and Fujitsu knowingly withheld  info and worse, continued to pursue the Post Masters even though they knew the IT was flawed, what can actually be done about it?

The judge in the first trial which started clearing people did send a file to the director of public prosecutions asking for them to look at a couple of the fujitsu witnesses and whether they have committed any crimes. That seems to be with the police currently and hopefully would get expanded beyond just those couple.

Given some of the historical comments from their IT and legal teams it does look like the police would have plenty to get going with although I suspect the very senior people will have enough plausible deniability to get away with it.

There is also malicious prosecution but sadly thats seems to still be just financial as opposed to targeting the lying arseholes personally.

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

There are alot of people within both PO and Fujitsu whose actions need to be reviewed. Singling out the one former person, Vennells ,( who is now becoming almost  a scapegoat) is not really the right answer.

Post edited at 10:03
 Martin W 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Just remember she was onlyin her role from 2010 to 2015

2012 to 2019.  It's in the article that Greenbanks linked, and on her Wikipedia page.

However, your main point stands.

In reply to neilh:

> There are alot of people within both PO and Fujitsu whose actions need to be reviewed. Singling out the one former person, Vennells ,( who is now becoming almost  a scapegoat) is not really the right answer.

If one of the other posters said is correct,  that this started before and ended after her role then she still had the opportunity (and longevity) to sort the mess out and will doubtless have understood what was going on.

This makes her equally culpable.

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Martin W:

Ta for the correction.

 Greenbanks 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

Agreed. It runs deep: so it is to be hoped that those responsible are to be chased down with the same level of diligence & zeal as their unfortunate victims

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I never said otherwise. But I can see her becoming everybodys scapegoat. There appear to be alot of other people who committed perjury etc and went for the prosecutions.( all defending their own positions).

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

If you listen to the current R4 series (15 minute episodes) of "The Great Post Office Trial" on BBC Sounds I'm sure you can't fail to get an understanding of the Kafkaesque experience these people had and what little practical help they could get.  It is shocking, right from the start where the reporter happened to speak to a taxi driver who told him that his pregnant wife was in prison for something she didn't do.

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

there must have been something deeply wrong in the organisation of the IT and Post office management.  I spent years of my life working with databases involving very large and complex processes invovling date based payment and date based qualification systems and we never knowingly put anything live that hadn't been tested exhaustively.  Sometimes we did this despite the management, rather than as a consequence of this (I was threatend with a disciplinary hearing because I spent a long time testing a colleague's work in order to remove bugs that would have made it totally unreliable and, to an extent, unusable when I had been told to work on my own area of the project)

Whenever a fault was reported in the figures our hearts sank because despite a management blame culture we all knew the only thing that worked was complete honesty about the faults and putting the effort in to find them.  I personally got a lot of flack from the manager as she failed understand that the reason my work took longer than her favourite young "high fliers" was that my long experience had taught me to design out possible failures before starting to write procedures.  Typically they got work done faster got the praise and then someone had to pick up the pieces ...

When I was made redundant in my late 50s (in a mad axeman phase) working there had had such a destructive effect on my mental health that I haven't worked since.

It's made life a bit tough but there we are

Post edited at 10:23
 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Singling out the one former person, Vennells ,( who is now becoming almost  a scapegoat) is not really the right answer.

I dont think anyone is just singling her out are they?  She is being held accountable certainly but thats because she is one of those with the sort of public profile which can be specifically targeted by asking why she is still on boards etc.

One of her fellow execs got the boot from the Welsh FA a few weeks back since they didnt seem convinced that someone involved in this would be an ideal head of HR.

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> there must have been something deeply wrong in the organisation of the IT and Post office management.  I spent years of my life working with databases involving very large and complex processes invovling date based payment and date based qualification systems and we never knowingly put anything live that hadn't been tested exhaustively. 

The registry and private eye are good for summaries with the post office trial website being the most detailed. It seems both the PO and Fujitsu were desperate for it to be a success (Fujitsu to help sell to others and the PO as part of their big lets get profitable phase) and so were happy to overlook any issues.

A major problem seems to be in the uploading of transactions from the local system to the central db. If the connection dropped part way through the ability to roll back either didnt exist at all or was prone to failure so you could end up with duplicated payments (separate question why those werent spotted even after being written).

One of the cases mentioned was where a village had a dodgy electrial substation which resulted in multiple power cuts. Once the substation was fixed the issues magically disappeared.

 timjones 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

What on earth makes you think that I don't understand it?

That does not mean that we should not ask how the hell our legal system is flawed enough to allow it to happen.  It's no good only looking at the PO, if over 700 people were convicted then there surely has to be something else wrong. 

 timjones 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> there must have been something deeply wrong in the organisation of the IT and Post office management.  I spent years of my life working with databases involving very large and complex processes invovling date based payment and date based qualification systems and we never knowingly put anything live that hadn't been tested exhaustively. 

Were you working in the public or private sector?

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

I detect a certain taste for it at the moment in the news( woman priest and a profile built on her taking PO into the private sector).

The Welsh FA certianly seem to have alot on their plates at the moment.

In reply to wercat:

> I personally got a lot of flack from the manager as she failed understand that the reason my work took longer than her favourite young "high fliers" was that my long experience had taught me to design out possible failures before starting to write procedures.  Typically they got work done faster got the praise and then someone had to pick up the pieces ...

I feel your pain. That's the corporate culture in the UK at present. The project must hit its milestones regardless of how flawed and badly conceived it is. Project then handed over with much publicity and backslapping, and the people left holding the turd get blamed, despite pointing out all along that it would end badly unless huge glaring issues were resolved.

Oh well, hopefully 4 years, 10 months and 2 weeks to go...

 sjminfife 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

Exactly 700 people with the collective lifetimes criminal record of three parking tickets and a speeding fine.

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

private, mainly providing sickness and holiday pay on behalf of employers for operatives in the construction industry - run for a trade association - so a bit of a hybrid, paternalistic provider

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

the fact that you ask the question - I was only trying to be helpful as you were indicating a need to understand.

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Ridge:

apologies to all for misspelling flak!

Post edited at 11:35
 timjones 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

I guessed as much.

Bitter experience with several government sourced IT systems has convinced me that public sector IT procurement procedures are not as rigorous as any sane private company would demand.

Unless I'm mistaken the PO was still in public ownership when this whole sorry debacle started.

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> Bitter experience with several government sourced IT systems has convinced me that public sector IT procurement procedures are not as rigorous as any sane private company would demand.

Yeah that shows a somewhat optimistic view of private companies and also how young software development is as a discipline.

The reason we see lots of bad stories about the public sector is its harder for the public sector to hide the failures. If you work in IT or even just read the specialist press you will see plenty of failures elsewhere.

Large systems are hard.

 timjones 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> the fact that you ask the question - I was only trying to be helpful as you were indicating a need to understand.

The fact that you were being helpful was appreciated, that is how things wshould work but public sector IT procurement is all too often woefully inadequate. From a farming perspective you could almost believe that they just don't  care how much havoc the system wreaks amongst those that it shoud be assisting

 Harry Jarvis 26 Apr 2021
In reply to timjones:

> Unless I'm mistaken the PO was still in public ownership when this whole sorry debacle started.

The PO is still in public ownership, owned by UK Government Investments. 

In reply to Ridge:

I think this is partly a  consequence of flawed IT culture as well, where the emphasis is all on the front end/'user experience' and fashionable display methodologies and metaphors at the expense of robustness, auditability and reliability.  

I'd be really fascinated to see the entity diagrams and table structure for Horizon. I'd be prepared to wager a fairly substantial sum that it is deeply flawed with any number of database design precepts (3rd normal form; data items stored just once; design out nulls where possible; all similar data items in same columns; thin tables rather than wide  ones etc etc etc) are completely ignored.

Also, the right approach for any software vendor should be an assumption of the potential for an error. Input from users should be welcomed - developers really can't test their own stuff, users will always uncover ways of abusing a system that no testing regime will anticipate. ('WTF did you press THAT button for?') But if they can screw up a system, eventually they will, and software companies should welcome this - once a bug has been discovered, it can be fixed, and that's part of the evolutionary process that results in continually improving software. 

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

Private sector companies meanwhile just fail or lose their customers......

In reply to wercat

> apologies to all for misspelling flak!

The German embassy has logged a complaint

In reply to mondite:

Large systems are hard, but in normal industry when large systems have bugs, an engineering solution is sought. Here we have a situation where the bugs were found and it was decided that it was better to pretend they did not exist and instead put the people they affected in prison. Hell, they requested the report that showed the issues destroyed. That is an interesting approach to QA.

Post edited at 13:52
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> I think this is partly a  consequence of flawed IT culture as well, where the emphasis is all on the front end/'user experience' and fashionable display methodologies and metaphors at the expense of robustness, auditability and reliability.  

Possibly. It's hard to know for sure without having internal knowledge of Fujitsu's internal software development practices. All IT systems go wrong at some point - I don't think it would be productive to go after the "people who caused the errors" (ie the Software Developers), as was suggested up-thread. Making a developer criminally responsible for the unintended consequences of a software bug (in accounting software, of all things), would be a fairly dangerous precedent to set. Not unless it could be shown that there was a criminal level of negligence at work.

I don't know that there's any reason to believe that Horizon itself was any more or less reliable than any large scale software system. What matters is how issues with Horizon were dealt with (or not dealt with), and the frankly bizarre attitude of the Post Office that computer systems could not result in accounting errors (a conclusion that is absurd to anyone with even a passing familiarity with computer software).

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Private sector companies meanwhile just fail or lose their customers......

and yet fujitsu and co keep on going with both public and private sector customers.

Remember its Fujitsu as well as the PO and simply blaming the PO for everything is somewhat odd. It took two parties to tango here.

Post edited at 14:07
 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

Not anymore I suspect..........

 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> Not anymore I suspect..........

They are still doing okay. There is the odd scenario for software where a lot of companies (plus public sector) are worried about partnering with small companies due to risk of failure so go for the massive outsourcing shop where failure is part of the model.

Oddly enough they got an extension to their PO contract recently since the PO wouldnt have been able to move in time and its so tightly wedded to them no one else could pick it up.

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

I personnally doubt the issue is with Fujitsia anyway( they are after all just a subcontractor). it will be the PO's management and their systems. I would prefer that Non exes are held to account, they are the ones who should have  been digging out the bodies and asking the awkward questions of the CE. That is their role.

Post edited at 14:17
 mondite 26 Apr 2021
In reply to neilh:

> I personnally doubt the issue is with Fujitsia anyway( they are after all just a subcontractor). it will be the PO's management and their systems.

If you read the reports it is clear both the PO and Fujitsu were to blame.

I do love this idea of being a subcontractor absolving of any blame. Maybe I should use that next time instead of pushing back on crap requirements and getting them done right. Then again I do take the approach we are being hired for our expertise and not simply to copy pasta from stack overflow.

 neilh 26 Apr 2021
In reply to mondite:

It was the PO's team which decided to prosecute, not Fujitsu.They were the ones controlling it, they were the ones who could polict it themselves.

In reply to mondite:

> Then again I do take the approach we are being hired for our expertise and not simply to copy pasta from stack overflow.

Probably the No.1 cause of spaghetti code.

In reply to planetmarshall:

For real spaghetti code, if you're not already familiar with it, do a search for the "come from" statement 😁

 wintertree 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

> For real spaghetti code, if you're not already familiar with it, do a search for the "come from" statement 😁

One of my favourites that, second only to the Python implementation (in the "goto" module).  

Re: Stack Overflow copy/paste, I've been horrified by some of the security related questions posted there  by people who say they're working for banks etc - and no reason to doubt them as they don't name employers so no sign its deliberate slander disguised as someone totally out of their depth asking a question about something so basic you doubt the competence and IT security of their employer if they outsource to such clueless dolts.

My modern definition of working in R&D is that the answers aren't on on Stack Overflow.

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Michael Hood:

nothing beats assembly language for sphagetability

 wintertree 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wercat:

> nothing beats assembly language for sphagetability

I'd take well formatted and commented assembly language for a nice processor architecture over Perl any day of the week.

 Greenbanks 26 Apr 2021
In reply to wintertree:

I wonder what the victims of this appalling miscarriage of justice would prefer!?

 wercat 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Greenbanks:

miscarriage sounds too "accidental", not "deliberate" enough.  I prefer Perversion of Justice.

In reply to wintertree:

> My modern definition of working in R&D is that the answers aren't on on Stack Overflow.

One like isn't enough. And don't get me started about the rotten culture on it.

Post edited at 18:20
 Babika 13:51 Sat
In reply to wercat:

I'm just listening to the R4 podcast The Great Post Office Trial. 

Although I know the story - and the ending - it unbelievably moving listening to the detail. 

Thanks for putting me on to it


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