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Connectivity problem hits thousands of Post Office branches

10 May 2018, 14:49 ... e-branches

Post Office branches unable to connect to Horizon computer system for several hours after morning opening time

About 2,000 Post Office branches were unable to connect to the organisation’s computer system for a few hours yesterday morning (9 May) because of a connectivity issue.

A spokesperson at the National Federation of Subpostmasters said systems were down for some sub-postmasters from opening time, which can be as early as 6am for those running newsagents, until they were back up and running at 9.40am.

“As many as 2000 branches experienced problems when they tried to log on,” said the spokesperson.

Post Office branches use a computer system called Horizon, which was developed by ICL/Fujitsu Services, for their accounts.

The Post Office said in a statement: “There was a connectivity issue affecting a limited number of our branches for a short period of time yesterday morning. We are really sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused. This is now resolved and our branches are trading as normal.”

The Horizon computer system is at the centre of a long dispute between the Post Office and sub-posmasters.

In 2009, Computer Weekly revealed the stories of sub-postmasters who had received heavy fines and even jail terms for alleged false accounting, which they blamed on the Horizon accounting system. The Post Office denies these claims.

A forensic accounting firm is currently examining the system as part of a Criminal Cases Review Commission investigation into allegations of unfair trial for sub-postmasters prosecuted for fraud.

Meanwhile, a separate group legal action is taking place in the High Court, which was brought by the Justice For Sub-postmasters Alliance (JFSA) after a decade of campaigning for sub-postmasters who claim wrongful fines for false accounting. The first month-long trial will take place in November 2018, followed by another in March 2019.

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