Extra than 1,000 subpostmasters would possibly per chance per chance luxuriate in conventional a old depraved pc draw of their branches as extra other folks reach forward with records following Put up Office scandal TV drama
Chief reporter and senior editor EMEA
Published: 12 Feb 2024 12: 45
Extra than 1,000 subposmasters would possibly per chance per chance luxuriate in conventional the Put up Office’s Capture draw, as extra miniature print emerge about how they luxuriate in been blamed for unexplained shortfalls on the draw.
Following the most up-to-the-minute ITV drama about the Put up Office Horizon scandal, a growing series of gentle subpostmasters and gentle Put up Office workers are coming forward with tales of concerns they’d with the Capture draw, which pre-dated the controversial Horizon draw.
Described by users as a “glorified spreadsheet”, Capture modified into a standalone draw conventional to computerise accounting in branches.
In accordance with one offer, IT provider Unisys equipped hardware with the Capture draw pre-attach in, nonetheless the IT firm modified into no longer concerned with the pattern of the draw.
Unisys has no longer replied to extra than one requests for records, nonetheless a offer told Computer Weekly that from 1994 the series of programs shipped by Unisys modified into “in the excessive a total bunch, if no longer over 1,000”. The draw modified into launched in 1992, so the draw would possibly per chance per chance luxuriate in been extra widely conventional.
The provision talked about that Unisys ran a proof of thought of draw which didn’t work, lacking out on the contract this implies that, and added that the Capture draw modified into possible developed at a Put up Office centre is understood as iTFarnborough.
Subpostmasters luxuriate in been blamed for unexplained shortfalls that came about when the utilize of the Capture draw, which the Put up Office knew the draw modified into flawed. It aloof blamed and even prosecuted subpostmasters when auditors came upon unexplained accounting shortfalls.
Stories luxuriate in emerged now that the Put up Office Horizon scandal is in the overall public witness. Steve Marston, a gradual subpostmaster in Bury, Lancashire, modified into prosecuted in 1996 for theft and inaccurate accounting following an unexplained shortfall of in relation to £80,000. He talked about he had never had any concerns the utilize of the paper-essentially based mostly accounting draw unless his branch, which ran from 1973, started the utilize of the Capture draw.
“We luxuriate in been pushed into the utilize of it by the Put up Office in 1996,” he talked about, describing it as a standalone draw that required subpostmasters to snatch their bear computers to bustle the draw. Marston added that he felt compelled into the utilize of the draw at a time when many branches luxuriate in been being closed by the Put up Office.
Computer Weekly has repeatedly requested the Put up Office for extra miniature print about the Capture draw, along side who developed the draw, what number of branches it modified into conventional in and the blueprint many other folks luxuriate in been prosecuted the utilize of its records as evidence. The Put up Office has no longer answered these questions, nonetheless a spokesperson talked about: “We settle very seriously any concerns raised about circumstances from earlier than the Horizon draw modified into first rolled out in 1999. We are investigating, along side tell circumstances dropped at our consideration, and will transparently submit our findings.”
A Branch Focal level publication – which gave weekly updates for subpostmasters – printed in September 1995 that subpostmasters luxuriate in been experiencing concerns with the draw. The publication learn: “We luxuriate in been wide awake that, as fresh draw, there would inevitably be faults in the programme.”
Rupert Lloyd Thomas, an IT professional who worked at the Put up Office for 27 years, talked about that if the excessive a total bunch, or even higher than 1,000, PCs with Capture attach in luxuriate in been sent to subpostmasters by Unisys from 1995, it would possibly per chance per chance per chance luxuriate in been noteworthy extra widely conventional.
“It modified into launched three years earlier and the draw would possibly per chance moreover be sold one after the other and attach in on a dwelling PC,” he added. “The total series of subpostmasters the utilize of Capture would possibly want to luxuriate in been north of 1,000.”
He talked about he desires to search out a reproduction of the draw so it’ll even be investigated: “Someplace accessible’s a floppy disk sitting in any individual’s cupboard with Capture on it, this implies that of it will present who the publisher modified into. It’s important we unravel this this implies that of the opposite folks affected are older.”
Kevan Jones MP, talked about: “The Put up Office and Unisys would possibly per chance moreover honest aloof reach forward about what they know about the Capture draw and its roll out. The figures counsel that there would possibly per chance moreover honest be at the least 1,000 other folks who had losses linked to Capture.”
Computer Weekly first uncovered the scandal in 2009, revealing the tales of seven subpostmasters and the concerns they suffered as a outcomes of the Horizon draw (sight below timeline of all articles since 2009).
Neil Hudgell, solicitor at Hudgell solicitors, which represents many subpostmasters, talked about there would possibly be rarely this form of thing as a reason to doubt that the Put up Office’s methodology to unexplained losses modified into any completely different to the blueprint it dealt with subpostmasters that suffered them when the utilize of Horizon, which incorporated terminating their employment, forcing them to repay nice sums and prosecuting a total bunch.
“As time passes, we are turning into extra inquisitive about events that unfolded earlier than Horizon’s introduction in 2000. For a extraordinarily long time we assumed that concerns with the IT draw luxuriate in been time exiguous from that interval,” talked about Hudgell. “Here’s clearly no longer the case and we are being contacted by extra and extra other folks with skill wrongful prosecutions or lack of office from earlier than Horizon. We are also being contacted by other folks inside of Put up Office or completely different eager parties providing us with intelligence.”
The Put up Office would no longer solution tell questions about Capture nonetheless directed Computer Weekly to a commentary on its web role.
The commentary reads: “We settle very seriously any concerns raised about circumstances from earlier than the Horizon draw modified into first rolled out in 1999. Our present working out is that Capture does no longer appear to luxuriate in been ‘networked’, nonetheless the draw modified into conventional by some subpostmasters, alongside manual processes, for simplifying accounts earlier than they luxuriate in been manually submitted.
“We are namely furious about allegations of prosecutions, and we are having a witness into this along with all readily accessible facts about Capture, along side whether or no longer shortfalls would possibly per chance per chance luxuriate in been brought on by faults on this draw, and the aptitude impacts if that’s the case.
“Given the passage of time, around 30 years in the past, and adjustments to records storage programs this implies that of the split from Royal Mail, we attain no longer but luxuriate in a total image of Capture nonetheless are having a witness into the sphere given the worries raised.”
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