The tide is turning for the legion of present and past subpostmasters caught up in nightmares with their Horizon computer system. (Quick rewind on the story so far: many have been bankrupted, some imprisoned, reputations have been ruined, careers destroyed, with most of the victims forced into false accounting to cover for unexplained losses because the Horizon ‘system’ was claimed ‘infallible’ no glitches.)
It has taken a supreme effort by many to turn this tide. Alan Bates, chairman of the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), says pressures from at least four major sources must soon lead to a complete investigation and overhaul of the Post Office’s accountancy system.
“There’s been a sea-change at the top over the past couple of years,” he says, “with a new board - it was a big thorn in their side - and there is a change in attitude, a willingness to solve it.”
Since the JFSA was formed in 2009 there has been promise of legal collective action (Shoosmiths’ no win, no fee), independent forensic accounting and IT investigations (2nd Sight) big pressure from a number of MPs plus mounting evidence gathered by the Alliance through its website, jfsa.org.uk. Have a look at its survey results, and if you have anything to add to it, now is the time!
In the next few months, once a few cases come to light which categorically prove that the system, not the operator, was at fault, things will change.
There are still questions. How many victims? Several hundreds. How much money wrongfully claimed back? So many thousands that surely it must be millions.
The system will be better in the end, but then the compensation claims will come and who will pay for that? Probably all of us.