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Post Office spend €119 million in legal fees fighting sub-postmasters

by on29 March 2024

But knew Horizon IT system was the real villain.

The BBC has unearthed a draft report showing that the Post Office spent a whopping €119 million in legal fees fighting sub-postmasters while ignoring evidence that its own Horizon IT system was the real villain.

By 2017, the Post Office knew that the mysterious losses could be attributed to glitches in the system or sneaky remote tampering. Yet it persisted in pointing fingers at the sub-postmasters in the Bates v Post Office showdown.

Lead barrister for the sub-postmasters, Patrick Green KC, is gobsmacked, calling the findings "absolutely shocking". He reckons the whole courtroom saga should've been canned.

For those who came in late, from 1999 to 2015, more than 900 sub-postmasters were dragged through the mud, wrongly accused due to the dodgy Horizon system created by Fujitsu. The high-stakes legal battle, which even got its telly dramatisation, saw 555 sub-postmasters come together to clear their names, arguing that it wasn't sticky fingers but tech blunders that were to blame for the missing moolah.

The draft report codenamed Bramble and whipped up by Deloitte, was meant to be hush-hush but ended up being a smoking gun. It showed that the Post Office bigwigs were in the know about the IT shenanigans, with Deloitte's findings being passed around like a hot potato within the Post Office's inner circle.

Tim Parker, the then-chairman of the Post Office, is in the hot seat now, with questions about whether the legal eagles misled the court.

The report, Bramble, paints a damning picture of Fujitsu's ability to fiddle with accounts without leaving a trace, a fact that the Post Office conveniently left out of its defence. Despite their claims of "impossible" remote interference, Deloitte's findings suggest otherwise, with no records of who had access before 2015.

The sub-postmasters, some of whom were clapped in irons for theft, were kept in the dark about Bramble, which detailed how their accounts were tampered with to the tune of almost €1.5 million.

The scandal has left the Post Office with egg on their face and a hefty bill to pay, as they scramble to make amends with €213 million in compensation to the wronged postmasters.

With the public inquiry into the fiasco underway, the Post Office is tight-lipped, but the cat's out of the bag, and the truth is clear as day: they knew, they fought, and they lost.

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