Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Post office Horizon IT inquiry: Human Impact Hearing begins

News
Share:
Post office Horizon IT inquiry: Human Impact Hearing begins

By

The Inquiry will publicly record the failings of the IT system which led to a large-scale miscarriage of justice

The independent public statutory Post Office Horizon IT inquiry (the Inquiry), established to gather a clear account of the implementation and failings of Fujitsu’s Horizon IT system at the Post Office, has begun to hear human impact statements from postal workers today (14 February 2022).

Failures in the Horizon IT system over a period of 20 years led to the suspension and termination of subpostmasters’ and subpostmistresses’ contracts, prosecution and wrongful conviction of hundreds of postal workers accused of theft, fraud and false accounting – one of the largest scale instances of miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

Some postal workers were not convicted, but paid significant sums of money from their own pockets to account for erroneously calculated shortfalls and balance their books – sums which some have not yet been able to recover.

The Inquiry will seek to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of the system over its 20-year lifetime.

The Inquiry is led by retired high court judge Sir Wyn Williams, who has over 28 years’ judicial experience. 

Ahead of the start of the Human Impact Hearings, he commented: "Much has already been written and said about how decisions made in reliance upon false information generated by the Horizon IT system caused very significant adverse consequences for many people.

“During the course of the coming weeks some of those most adversely affected by Horizon and decisions made in reliance upon it will give detailed accounts of their experiences. I am extremely grateful to those who have accepted my invitation to give oral evidence”.

He added that he recognised the task of giving evidence would not be an easy one, but that such evidence would enable him to “reach clear and considered conclusions about the nature and scale of the suffering endured by many over a substantial number of years”.

Counsel to the Inquiry includes Jason Beer QC and Catriona Hodge, both of 5 Essex Court, and Julian Blake and Ruth Kennedy, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk. Segun Jide of the Government Legal Department is solicitor to the Inquiry, assisted by a team of lawyers: Helen Eyre, Jo Charalambous, Laura Smith, Julie Beaumont, Lindi Todd and Jesse Ambler. Leila Pilgrim is secretariat to the Inquiry.

The Human Impact Hearing can be watched live on YouTube.