Discover more from Richard Moorhead Thoughts on the Post Office Scandal
The darkness just got a bit darker
New evidence deepening allegations of prosecution misconduct and showing Fujitsu awareness of problems in their legal department
Rebecca Thomson has just blogged on the latest round of successful appeals . 5 more people have the stain on their character lifted, although as one says, “the scars will affect him for the rest of his life”. The convictions were between 9 and 18 years old and the ages of those bearing the stain of conviction that long are between 53 and 78. One had joined the Post Office in 1974 and was convicted after 30 years service.
Rebecca’s post is masterly in its emotional register and economy; the profundity and decency of Post office victims never fails to move (As one victim says of his own mistreatment, “in quiet moments your brain goes back to it, and you can’t stop it”). I strongly recommend anyone interested follow her.
Her blog also reveals something rather important. One of the victims pleaded guilty in 2013 and evidence from Gareth Jenkins was used. The (now former) Fujitsu engineer, the court heard, “had not reviewed the logs and data specific to the case, but nonetheless stated that Horizon records showing losses were accurate.”
2013 was the year Simon Clarke advised Post Office that Jenkins evidence was unreliable and should not be relied on (see my own initial analysis here). So, in all likelihood, either the prosecution continued in the teeth of this advice or it was not properly reviewed post-Clarke in the so-called CK Sift. Or indeed both. This adds a new and significant piece of evidence to the claim that PO lawyers behaved egregiously and possibly in bad faith when dealing with these cases.
Hudgells (solicitors for many of the successful appellants) have also revealed something very interesting. They say:
In documents disclosed as part of his appeal against his conviction, emails were unearthed which showed concerns were raised over the reliability of the Horizon system by legal representatives of Fujitsu, the company which manufactured the tills and developed the faulty accounting software.
I don’t recall seeing anything which shows Fujitsu’s involvement (other than through witnesses like Jenkins). Fujitsu raising concerns adds to the roll call of matters occurring (particularly in 2013, although we do not know when Fujitsu raised it) which points toward extensive, significant, and senior knowledge of Horizon problems. The Clarke advice is but the clearest example. It also adds to the substantial list of inadequate and late disclosures in the case to date. As Hudgell’s note:
The case was also pursued against Mr Allen despite the Post Office having at the time hired a forensic accounting company, Second Sight, to investigate the Horizon system – an investigation which ultimately concluded that it could cause unexplained shortfalls.
Requests for disclosure of that review by Mr Allen’s solicitors – two months before he was sentenced – were refused by lawyers acting for the Post Office.
Nor does it quite end there. Mr Allan says this too:
“At the time I was taken to court it had already been reported that that the Horizon system was being investigated due to concerns and when my lawyers spoke to the legal team for the Post Office they were told the investigation didn’t affect my case and they just ploughed on.
If this happened as described before the Clarke advice it is questionable; if it happened after the Clarke advice it is very serious indeed for PO and for the lawyers concerned.