Post Office Limited, Fujitsu, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and UK Government Investments have been called on to submit all documents relating to the Horizon software case as part of a statutory inquiry.

Post Office

The Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry took place in London on Monday 8 November. Chaired by Sir Wyn Williams, the process’ aim is to provide a public summary of the failings which occurred with the Horizon IT system at the Post Office leading to the suspension, termination of subpostmasters’ contracts, prosecution and conviction of subpostmasters.

The Inquiry had been made statutory earlier this year in light of the quashing of sentences of subpostmasters who had been wrongly convicted due to errors made by the Horizon system.

The Inquiry was provided with submissions from previous and current subpostmasters, Post Office Ltd, UK Government Investment (UKGI), Fujitsu, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as the Communication Workers Union, National Federation of Subpostmasters and former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells.

During the Inquiry, Sam Stein QC, representing subpostmasters affected by the Horizon system failings, called for compensation for the victims.

Following the inquiry proceedings, Sir Wyn Williams called on all relevant parties to surrender all documents relating to the Horizon by 15 November.

He said: “At today’s hearing I heard submissions concerning the waiver of legal professional privilege. I said that I would be making a statement which calls for a response from Post Office Limited, Fujitsu, BEIS and UKGI. Having considered the matter, whilst I may in due course target specific documents or groups of documents as the Inquiry progresses (and I do not invite responses that simply propose a document-by-document process), I am today seeking a waiver of privilege in respect legally privileged material relevant to the Terms of Reference, as carried into effect by the Provisional List of Issues (and as supplemented by the four themes heard at today’s hearing - which everyone should understand will be investigated by the Inquiry) dated from the date of the first pilot of the Horizon IT System to the Prime Minister’s announcement to hold an inquiry on 26 February 2020. Please can Post Office Limited, Fujitsu, BEIS and UKGI provide their responses to the Inquiry not later than 4pm on 15 November 2021.”

The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) issued a statement on the Inquiry. “Today’s hearing considered whether four key issues should be covered by the inquiry – pertaining to: the forensic accountancy firm Second Sight Investigations Limited, reliance on legal advice in Horizon-related prosecutions, the conduct of the GLO Bates vs Post Office, and divergences across the UK.

”In broad terms, the NFSP believes that all four of these issues should be examined by the Inquiry. These are all highly pertinent. NFSP CEO Calum Greenhow made this known to the inquiry in today’s hearing.

“The NFSP believes is it vital that those impacted by the Horizon scandal have their reputations restored and all their losses, including consequential losses, refunded. We hope the inquiry is able to address what happened in the past and to provide protection to the current and future post office network.

Earlier this month, several subpostmasters spoke out about the treatment they have received from Post Office Limited and the level of pay they get compared to the amount of work the service requires.