Authorities are currently conducting an investigation into a United Kingdom post office following an IT issue that resulted in false accusations of theft.
British authorities are currently conducting a fraud probe on the U.K.’s Post Office regarding a case of injustice where numerous postmasters were falsely charged with theft due to a malfunctioning computer system.
On Friday, the Metropolitan Police announced that they are looking into potential fraudulent activities connected to these prosecutions. This pertains to funds received by the Post Office from legal proceedings or lawsuits against postal employees.
Law enforcement officials are currently looking into possible instances of lying under oath and obstructing the legal process in relation to inquiries and criminal cases conducted by the Post Office.
From 1999 to 2015, over 700 managers of post office branches were charged with theft or fraud due to computer errors indicating missing funds. As a result, many suffered financial ruin as they were compelled to pay significant amounts to the company, and some were found guilty and imprisoned. Tragically, a few took their own lives.
The main cause was a malfunctioning computer accounting system known as Horizon, which was provided by the Japanese technology company Fujitsu. This system was implemented in post office branches in 1999.
For a long time, the Post Office asserted that the information from Horizon was trustworthy and blamed branch managers for being dishonest when the system indicated that money was unaccounted for.
After a prolonged effort by those affected and their legal representatives, the Court of Appeal overturned 39 convictions in 2021. A judge stated that the Post Office was aware of significant concerns regarding the dependability of Horizon and had made serious mistakes in their investigation and sharing of information.
93 postal workers, as reported by the Post Office, have had their convictions overturned. However, there are still many others who have not been cleared and only 30 have accepted “full and final” compensation payments. A public investigation into the controversy has been ongoing since 2022.
Thus far, there have been no arrests or criminal charges against anyone from the government-owned Post Office or other affiliated companies.
Lee Castleton, a previous manager at a branch, faced financial ruin due to the Post Office’s pursuit of him for unaccounted funds. He shared that his family was shunned in their community of Bridlington in the northern region of England. He also revealed that his daughter was a victim of bullying due to the belief that her father was a criminal who took advantage of elderly individuals.
He stated that the victims desired for the responsible parties to be identified.
Castleton spoke to Times Radio on Saturday, emphasizing the importance of accountability. He called for an examination of the individuals responsible for the decisions that led to this outcome.
A long-standing scandal sparked fresh anger when a TV docudrama, titled “Mr. Bates vs the Post Office,” aired this week. The show depicted the 20-year struggle of branch manager Alan Bates, portrayed by Toby Jones, to uncover the truth and defend the wrongly accused postal workers.
The Post Office’s CEO, Nick Read, who was chosen after the scandal, expressed his support for the TV show and expressed his hope that it would increase knowledge and motivate those who have been affected and have not yet spoken up to seek the appropriate compensation.
A legal representative for certain postal employees reported that, following the broadcast on the ITV network, 50 additional potential victims have sought counsel.
Attorney Neil Hudgell stated that the drama has brought a new level of attention to the public. The British public’s empathy towards these individuals has empowered some to bravely speak out. The number of those coming forward continues to rise, with many more still out there.