You Deserve Better

Resignations on the Horizon?

In case you have been living under a rock or on the moon, you will no doubt have seen the news this week that the recent drama about the Horizon Post Office scandal hit the screens and forced the government into action.  Sadly, their action has been the same as always, trying to pin the blame on someone – anyone – else.

Right now, their two targets are Keir Starmer, who was directing the Public Prosecutions Service at the time when the sub-postmasters were prosecuted, and Ed Davey, who was Post Office Minister as part of the coalition government at the time.

Was it either of their faults? No, definitely not. Was this the fault of the Tories in government? No.  I am not writing this to assign blame to them, but instead to step above petty blame games and talk about the real culprits.

Fujitsu

At the heart of this scandal is the Horizon software, which was essentially a cash reconciliation programme installed in sub-branches of the Post Office in the 1990s.  This software was developed and ultimately installed by ICL Pathways Limits, now part of Fujitsu, a large technology company with a pretty strong reputation.

Unfortunately, it seems that there was a flaw in the software.  For those of us with experience of developing software, this is probably not a surprise – every IT project has bugs, they are essentially unavoidable.  However, in this instance the software bug made it appear as though cash was disappearing from sub-branches.  I don’t understand the specifics enough to go into details, but these seem to be agreed facts.

There also seems to have been some delay over the development of the software, which likely put more and more pressure on the coders to rush the job. 

To cut a long story short, though, the error seems to have originated from Fujitsu, so when the error was discovered they should have indemnified both the Post Office and the falsely accused Sub-Postmasters.  That is what I would expect from a company that released a product which caused harm. 

This is not saying that they shouldn’t also be subject to fines or sanctions, but rather sets out the bare minimum they should do for rolling out a product which caused so much harm.

There is some speculation that Fujitsu were given preferential treatment because their staff included the husband of our current Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, and given the other cases of Tory corruption we have seen in recent years, this wouldn’t surprise me.

The Post Office

As I understand it, this is where the true blame lies.  The Post Office management were aware of the issues as early as 2000 and didn’t report them back to MPs.  They proceeded with charges that they knew – or reasonably ought to have known – were false, and in doing so ruined the lives of over 900 sub-postmasters.  These were their staff, they absolutely had a duty of care to look after them, and given these hundreds of people were not guilty of stealing from the Post Office, they absolutely deserve compensation.

The Post Office management needs to be investigated for ignoring the issue from 2000 to around 2013, when they finally obtained an assessment from Second Sight (which itself was wrong, as it concluded that the software was fine but the Post Office’s procedures were flawed).  This means that for 13 years they had information from sub-postmasters that the software had a major flaw and for 13 years they ignored it.

Post Office Ministers?

If after reading this you still think that the Post Office Minister might still be to blame, here’s a list of such ministers since Horizon was installed:

(Thanks to Christopher Hope for collating the data on the terms and names of the various ministers)

The obvious question to ask is “what makes Ed Davey special out of this list?”  Why is so much ire being directed at him (as well as Keir Starmer) as though this was his personal failure rather than the 19 other ministers with the exact same duties?  Look into the source of said claims and I expect you will find a Tory donor desperate to create news that will keep his friends in power for a little longer.

It won’t work. We see through the lies, and the British people will likewise see through the lies when they are presented with unbiased facts.  Change is coming, and this might well be the last ever Tory majority government.

No longer a candidate, so now focusing on my own projects.

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