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Post Office admits computer errors in action brought by accused staff

28 Nov 2018, 14:11

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/bus ... er-errors/

A Post Office director has admitted its computer database, which has been blamed for financial discrepancies that led to staff being jailed, did ‘make mistakes’.

Angela Van den Bogerd made the admission while giving evidence on behalf of the Post Office in a High Court trial brought by 557 post office workers who say they were wrongly blamed for shortfalls.

Among those bringing the action were Tracy Felstead, 36, of Telford, who was jailed for six months in 2001 after being found guilty of stealing £11,503.

Miss Felstead, of Bournside Drive, Brookside, has protested her innocence ever since.

Rubbina Shaheen, who used to keep Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury, is also fighting to clear her name after being jailed for 12 months in 2010, but is not part of the group action.

Giving evidence in the High Court, Mrs Van den Bogerd admitted its Horizon computer programme was not error free.

“Overall, it is robust but it will make mistakes and we have to correct them,” she said under cross-examination.

Earlier in the hearing, the Post Office was ordered to reveal a confidential memo from August 2010, which admitted to a ‘payments mismatch issue’ with the system.

It said the problem was affecting about 40 branches, and added: “At this time we have not communicated with branches affected and we do not believe they are exploiting this bug intentionally.”

Mrs Van den Bogerd told the court that the Post Office would not necessarily inform its branch network of such glitches.

She said one reason it might not tell sub-postmasters would be that they could “think it is always the Horizon system, so they don’t look look in branch and might miss things.”

The 557 claimants say the Post Office imposed Horizon on them.

The terminals record all over-the-counter transactions.

The claimants say the accounts are held by the Post Office, not the sub-postmasters who have no means of checking errors.

The Post Office denies all the allegations in the case, which is scheduled to run for several months, and maintains its computer system was not at fault. It blames error or dishonesty.

A Post Office spokesman said: “The claimants represent a very small proportion (0.01 per cent) of users of our Horizon computer system.”

Mrs Shaheen is not part of the group action taking place in the High Court, but both she and Miss Felstead are also seeking to have their convictions overturned through the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The High Court trial continues.

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