Top 10 Post Office Horizon stories of 2021
When Computer Weekly revealed the stories of seven former subpostmasters who had been blamed for accounting shortfalls caused by computer errors, it uncovered what is today one of the widest miscarriages of justice in history.
The scandal this year has been dominated by the overturning of 72 wrongful criminal convictions of subpostmasters, but there have been more shocking revelations along the way. Staff being instructed to shred potential evidence and the Post Office’s desire for a change in legal rules that would make it easier to prosecute subpostmasters are two.
Selecting the top 10 articles for the past year was difficult, with over 60 to choose from, but here are Computer Weekly’s pick of 2021.
Subpostmasters have their criminal convictions overturned after a judge rules that the Post Office prosecuted them without investigating computer errors.
Barrister advising the Post Office in 2013 stated that destroying documents would “amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”.
Subpostmasters, MPs and the public call for a full statutory judge-led public inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal, following another damning court judgment.
Lawyers call for changes to digital evidence rule that made it easier for the Post Office to “bamboozle courts” and make subpostmasters pay a heavy price for its IT failings.
5. Ex-Post Office CEO Paula Vennells walked away from IT scandal with over £400,000 in pay and bonuses
Former Post Office chief was paid over £400,000 when she left, despite the organisation being involved in what would become the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history.
6. Government to fund interim compensation of up to £100,000 for each wrongly convicted subpostmaster
The government will pay interim compensation to subpostmasters who were wrongly convicted of crimes due to computer errors.
7. Post Office board ‘appalling’ and ‘short-sighted’, said minister researching Horizon project in 2000
A government minister investigating the controversial Horizon IT project in 2000 described the Post Office board of directors as “appalling, short-sighted and partisan”.
Former Fujitsu staff who gave evidence in subpostmaster trials have been questioned by police for a second time.
9. Government must go further after agreeing to pay compensation for wrongly convicted subpostmasters
The government has agreed to pay compensation to former subpostmasters wrongly convicted in the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, but continues to refuse to pay a significant group of victims.
The Post Office made clear its support for a change in UK law regarding computer evidence that was making prosecution “onerous” – a change which later helped to wrongfully convict subpostmasters.