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  • mr bates vs the post office
  • martinhutch
    Full Member

    he line ‘refused to comment while the public inquiry is ongoing ‘ is piss boiling

    And, remarkably, the person who conducted the review is not appearing before that inquiry. Hopefully something that can be fixed.

    So much hinges on when PO Ltd and the Government were told that Fujitsu could remotely access these branch Horizon machines, and what they did with that information (Spoiler: They did nothing, just covered it up while Sub Postmasters rotted in prison or killed themselves)

    kimbers
    Full Member

    i think it’s worse by they actively tried to hide the fact whilst the postmasters started their legal challenge

    anyway badenochs BS coming unstuck?

    masterdabber
    Free Member

    And so the saga goes on and the Post Office not going down without fighting….

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/feb/22/post-office-said-last-month-it-stands-by-most-horizon-convictions

    theotherjonv
    Full Member

    In fairness, is that also not what some of the Postmasters want – they are broadly against a blanket overturning because there are some (and I have no idea how many ie whether 369 is a vaguely likely let alone correct number) who were fiddling and if they are let off as well, then the genuinely innocent will always feel still somewhat tarnished (again, so impressed by their own integrity in the face of none from elsewhere)

    If some of these convictions did not rely on Horizon evidence, or only partially and there was other evidence that was examined and which results in guilt, should that not be raised?

    And yes, fully aware that better that 10 guilty men walk free than one innocent man hangs; also the dichotomy of wanting it sorted properly but also fast because people are struggling and even dying in the meantime (interim payments, possibly? but how you get them back if people are subsequently truly guilty)

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    I don’t know one postoffice within our local group chat that wants blanket over turning of convictions.
    It’s a political play to try to win the election, trying to make up for government mismanagement of the situation, rather than carry on with proper investigation that’s again been delayed and hindered for political gain.

    This is also worth a read:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-68328188?fbclid=IwAR0EeOlIVH6aAQR0jnBDUkCKmVOhec6RFBr_6qRcCjZ295nlIENvaSNISCg

    The postoffice counter in our shop would need to sell 300 stamps per hour (for the 53hrs a week we offer postoffice servies) to meet one members of staff minimum wage.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Do you have to run a post office or can you refuse and close it ?

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    We could refuse and close it, but it’s classed as an ‘essential service’. In our case that would put our lease at risk and open a tin of worms.
    It’s also what rural communities value the most from rural shops.

    When we took on our shop, two months into running the PO we had a  random £650 negative on our cash up in month. We threatened closing the PO as our renumeration was around 250 a month at that point and we were fresh into the business. After days of stress PO relinquished and said it was a bug and wrote it off…

    Screenshot_20240222-160232~3

    weeksy
    Full Member

    i accept it’s what people want… but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to run one..

    The lease context though must obviously change that somewhat.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Yes, our landlord ‘could’ chuck us out, when you’ve invested everything into a site that could be an issue.
    The PO is cirtainly not a money maker though, it’s time consuming, involves lots of staff training, little to no support and high risk. Years ago, when staff were paid a wage by PO it was a different matter.

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    While legislation to overturn a ‘set’ of convictions is not ideal, at this stage it’s necessary to get justice and recompense in the hands of those who need it most. At one stage the SPMs were probably dying quicker than they were being exonerated. It doesn’t excuse the government sitting on its hands, or actively obstructing the process in the years beforehand, and I don’t think this will get them off the hook as further evidence emerges.

    As for the ‘yes, but some of the WERE stealing’ argument, it’s patently bullshit, and the PO don’t get to use it at this stage.

    Even if some of the cases were not 100% linked to Horizon evidence, we’ve heard enough testimony about the methods and approach used by the Post Office Investigations teams (bullying, failure to disclose evidence etc) to know that ANY conviction secured by them in the past couple of decades is suspect and could be challenged on that basis alone. Even those where admissions were secured are suspect, as there is evidence of innocent subpostmasters confessing simply due to the tactics and pressure applied by the investigation teams, just trying to stay out of prison.

    If it means some actual thieves ‘get away with it’, or get compensation to which they are not entitled, so be it. It’s the price of running a rotten, shambolic organisation and Nick Read should be utterly ashamed to be employing this as an argument at this point. The corruption and delusion is still embedded in Post Office Ltd culture, they are still employing many of these bullies and liars. They even had to get rid of a new Chairman who came in with the energy to tackle that culture.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    As someone who works with POL on a day to day, has worked within my own post office and others for over 10 years, and had direct involvement with POL middle and upper management in my past career @martinhutch some of your comments are valid, others I find not so much.
    The Mr Bates media and public outcry has been great and it’s cirtainly pushed the current gov into action. But I’m still not convinced this is the correct course, and not just a way of some quick positive public engagement on the issue.

    POL’s issues are and we’re way bigger than the convictions of 900 SPM’s. Almost 8.5k postoffices have shut since the introduction of Horizon. The remittance offer for postoffices is so bad – it’s the worst £ per sqft in my small shop. The current 11500 that are left are paid 6p per 1st class stamp, RM gets 25p (apparently) so POL pockets 99p.

    Every single postoffice in the country would have been  effected by the faults of the horizon issues. What happened with the convictions is awful and those effected should get compensation, but the story, social and economic is far larger than just the 900. A blanket squash of convictions is a quick easy way for the government to regain ground and gain public confidence and that’s it.

    theotherjonv
    Full Member

    As for the ‘yes, but some of the WERE stealing’ argument, it’s patently bullshit, and the PO don’t get to use it at this stage.

    How can it be patently bullshit when it’s not exclusively the PO or Gov – it’s also (some of) the SPMs that don’t want a blanket exoneration. Saying the PO can’t use it when the SPMs want it, how do you square that?

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Don’t forget it’s also, as far as I’m aware, the first time parliament will stepping over the legal white lines drawn between governance and this part of our legal system at such a large scale and could open up a can of worms in the future.

    How can it be patently bullshit when it’s not exclusively the PO or Gov – it’s also (some of) the SPMs that don’t want a blanket exoneration. Saying the PO can’t use it when the SPMs want it, how do you square that?

    Fair. It’s now about negating the PR disaster this has been for the PO and HMG, and once again the wishes of those affected are being ignored.

    That and issuing a blanket quashing etc is probably cheaper than investigating properly and filtering the guilty from the innocent.

    It’s a standard play from the big book of shite leadership; in the event of a ****-up, distract with a benevolent overcorrection.

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    Honestly, they simply are unable to change. The reasons behind Staunton’s sacking are becoming crystal clear.

    Root and branch reform, a proper mucking out of the organisation is its only chance.

    How can it be patently bullshit when it’s not exclusively the PO or Gov – it’s also (some of) the SPMs that don’t want a blanket exoneration. Saying the PO can’t use it when the SPMs want it, how do you square that?

    Are they SPMs who have been convicted and are saying ‘it’s a fair cop’? Can’t see a problem with that, but we’re talking about a tranche of hundreds of cases, most of whom are maintaining their innocence. Such is the unreliable state of not only the Horizon evidence, but also how the investigations team conducted themselves, how ‘admissions’ were obtained, and the approach to disclosure that I cannot for the life of me see how you apply a filter to those cases, and determine which ones are innocent and which guilty, without heaping further damage on the lives of a lot of wrongly-convicted people.

    oldfart
    Full Member

    Thinking now of Crown Offices rather than Subs I remember when I started as a Postie back in 1982 the counter staff were held in high regard because of the responsibility and the knowledge that was needed and so were paid accordingly.
    I think I’m right that the job now pays little if anything over the minimum wage? I can’t see it’s gotten any easier in terms of what you need to know on a daily basis , another job sold down the river and I probably got paid the same for stacking shelves for the last 3 years before retirement.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    The job if anything is more complicated than in 1982 as you need to also sell a verity of insurance and banking facilities.
    We worked out that we would need to sell 300 stamps per hour every hour we are open to make minium wage for one member of staff.
    I make more selling a 25p Wam bar than I do selling a 1st or 2nd class stamp.

    oldfart
    Full Member

    It’s shameful isn’t it ?

    theotherjonv
    Full Member

    Such is the unreliable state of not only the Horizon evidence, but also how the investigations team conducted themselves, how ‘admissions’ were obtained, and the approach to disclosure that I cannot for the life of me see how you apply a filter to those cases, and determine which ones are innocent and which guilty, without heaping further damage on the lives of a lot of wrongly-convicted people.

    Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be easy. I’m just pointing out that despite that some SPMs are determined that’s what they want because even a hint that they might have slipped the net, that there’s a tinge of ‘maybe’ over their guilt/innocence, and they don’t accept that.

    If it was me – I think I’d be happy with 95 or 99 or whatever % certainty that is to sort this while there’s still a chance of piecing something out of my lost best years. But I’m not the one being smeared by this, so can’t know how that feels (is Mrs Miggins at #42 still suspicious of me after all this time) and frankly I don’t have their integrity, which I still find unbelievable.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    These are the sort of issues we’ll have as long as we continue to use horizon and a suitable replacement isn’t implemented.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/02/23/post-office-investigated-sub-postmaster-own-board/

    (Sorry if it’s behind a pay wall)

    martinhutch
    Full Member

    If sub postmasters are still enduring suspicion in their communities, all the more reason to get these convictions quashed as soon as possible while the issue is still high profile, rather than in dribs and drabs over the next five years.

    There’s no perfect way to fix this, that’s for sure. We’re into ‘least worst’ territory thanks to the shameless behaviour of PO Ltd and politicians over the past decade.

    I guess if the legislation was worded to give individual SPMs a public hearing if they wanted?

    mc
    Free Member

    My thoughts are clearing all those convicted with the proposed legislation isn’t the way to handle this.
    Those who are guilty, won’t be able to re-charged (except for a fraud charge), and from my understanding will get compensation.

    I think the better way to handle it, would be to give the PO the option to present evidence of those convictions that they think are ‘safe’ and give those convicted the option for some form of re-trial, then clear all those who the PO can’t provide evidence for.
    The PO have obviously done some research as to what convictions they think are safe, so they should be able to provide that information fairly quickly.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    The problem with that is that POL have held and hidden evidence along every step of the way, as we are hearing in the enquiry. Add to that the huge amount of time it’ll take, along with further legal fees for both parties.
    There’s still parts of POL that regard all sub postmasters as the enemy.

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    “I think the better way to handle it, would be to give the PO the option to present evidence of those convictions that they think are ‘safe’ and give those convicted the option for some form of re-trial, then clear all those who the PO can’t provide evidence for.”

    How is that going to work? POL have demonstrated that their investigators are inept at best and corrupt/fraudulent at worst. Any evidence from that poisoned department is going to be a gift to any half-awake defence barrister in demonstrating reasonable doubt.

    MSP
    Full Member

    The immorality of persecuting the innocent is far far worse than any potential financial theft, for me they can sorting through the alleged crimes of the postmasters to see if any actually should be retrialled can come after a blanket pardon, and the imprisonment of those guilty of perpetrating this corporate torture of innocent people.

    Although I am not confident our legal system recognises the crimes of the “strong and powerful”, the corporations, the establishment and the rich against the poor and weak in the same way it does the other way around.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Don’t forget that those who receive a pardon, who were wrongly convicted, will never find out why they were convicted in the first place.

    There are 11500 post offices still operating with Horizon on a daily basis, the issues still exist, I regularly hear of numerous issues and bugs, none of which will be fixed unless identified which POL seemingly have not got better at doing.

    But the issues with POl management go far further than a toxic investigate work force.
    My PO is a little different to others, we are effectively a permanently sited mobile office (only one of 9? Or so in the country), as a result we are constantly forgotten about. We like to be a full office, as we’ve increased trade enough to do so, but POL’s contracts don’t allow this. A third of our commission goes to a separate office which ‘manages’ ours, but in reality, delivers stock and that’s it.
    We’ve seen an area manager twice in 9 years, both times we contacted them direct for a meeting, they discussed our issues and agreed to sort them only never to be heard of since. It feels like we’ve had a new area manager covering 100’s of offices every 6 months or so. It’s taken 7 years to be put on the areas postoffice what’s app group, which is helpful as we get a response from other local offices quicker than being connected to the help desk. Even the FB group of offices is better.
    We have had zero post office on site training, only ‘on screen’ which is repetitive and mainly for products we don’t have the function to sell. When we bought the office we should have had a trainer for three days (we didn’t), I only found this out 4 years later. We can’t sell half the products we’d like to.
    When I worked as a PM for a supermarket, incharge of new convenience stores, myself and my boss would turn up for a meeting – responsible for the entire job. POL would send 6+ people, the post office PM would write notes down that their superior would direct.
    POL’s maintenance contracts needed a compete over haul. The safe company used to charge 3 or 4 times our (supermarket) rate to POL for the same job – to the point where I had calls from the POL PM to do things for them as it was cheaper.
    POL constantly invested in large chain stores and restricts investment in independents. The difference in help of development between my old job and personal shop is immense.

    dakuan
    Free Member

    a few genuinely guilty folks getting let of as a result of this mess is the very least of a long list of tradgedies

    poly
    Free Member

    Don’t forget that those who receive a pardon, who were wrongly convicted, will never find out why they were convicted in the first place.

    I’m a bit confused by this statement? If they were wrongly convicted, it will be because evidence was presented and believed which should not have been (or because they plead guilty in the hope of lower sentences). Even if it goes to the appeal court they almost certainly will be no clearer WHY the PO pursued convictions which were unsound, the inquiry MIGHT get to that but the appeal court just has to conclude that it’s likely there were errors which would have led to a miscarriage of justice.

    IF there are genuine convictions amongst them it might be that even they would be unsound because of systematic failures in disclosure culture, investigation approach and prosecution procedures.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    There were/are numerous bugs that horizon thew up which caused the system to generate false discrepancy’s.
    Some were simpler to track than others (if the paper trail and digital was kept), double stacking of cash withdrawals for example (cash withdrawal goes through twice rather than once). Frozen screen and repeat hitting the enter key was another cause of multiple transaction logs. Other issues like power cuts and repeat duplications of losses also were reported.

    We don’t know how many of the 900 or so contented convictions had which bug or which issue with Horizon & the enquiry isn’t looking at a case by case. It’s identified that there were bugs and that horizon had flaws but not how wide spread or frequent they were.

    Many of the wrongly convicted have expressed frustration at not knowing why they were sent to prison, bankruptcy etc. and a blanket quashing of convictions means that they will never know beyond “the computer did it” & pol back the system rather than the people.

    boomerlives
    Free Member

    As an outsider, I can’t see why that would make a difference.

    If I was PO staff, which I’m clearly not, I’d take my blanket pardon, and the compensation when it finally arrives secure in the knowledge that I was right all along.

    But, I would want to see the real guilty punished. The liars, the perjurers, the smug quasi-religious and the vicious bullies in cheap suits who thought they knew everything and ignored the clear evidence.

    Lock them up and you’d have a deal.

    poly
    Free Member

    a blanket quashing of convictions means that they will never know beyond

    My point was, even if they go to the appeal court they won’t know either. The appeals will be based on a technical point of law – like “POL should have disclosed the known issues with the software” not “your specific case resulted from bug 1234 and that is clearly not your fault. If I were a postmaster I can’t see it matters to me whether my bug was 1244 or 7654 – what would matter is why the investigators denied there were ANY issues with the system, why POL prosecutors knew there were matters that should be disclosed and weren’t and why even when the sole shareholder was made aware of systemic faults prosecutions continued. Those are matters for the inquiry. A blanket approach could declare the entire criminal investigation and prosecution approach so fundamentally flawed that no case between certain dates could be regarded as safe. The problem is the PMs would actually like to be told “you are clearly innocent” whereas even the appeal court will only really say a properly informed court could not have been sure of your guilt. There will always be a stigma with being tried and found not guilty (although innocent until proven should mean there is not). A blanket approach could be far clearer!

    frankconway
    Full Member

    IF Henry Staunton makes available an unredacted version of the redacted report he was waving about and referring to in his appearance today that will, I think, help to nail the lies/evasion/general dishonesty of the past 2 years.
    I think he is credible; Nick Read, the CEO, much less so.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Allen Bates saying the government should see the post office for a quid pissed me off tbh. There absolutely no chance of getting a better deal for SPM’s with a private companies as he suggested.

    Did anyone watch Panorama last night on Royal Mail delivery failures?
    First thing every SPM said when watching was that the journalist had underpaid on every one of the items she sent to test the system…. All should have been large letter rather than standard 1st class – we’ve all been shocked that any arrived at all….

    spawnofyorkshire
    Full Member

    Channel 4 news have evidence that the post office knew. Well worth a watch

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Perverting the course of justice then?

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Perverting the course of justice then?

    Radio4 were asking the same of a lawyer on PM. His view was there was evidence….

    dyna-ti
    Full Member

    This makes sense as to why the government wanted to roll out compensation as quickly as it could and put the whole thing to bed.

    When has a UK government, a tory one at that, ever wanted to speed through compensation for the little people 😕

    Kramer
    Free Member
    benos
    Full Member

    Roadie 😉

    dissonance
    Full Member

    Dusting this off since the next phrase of the inquiry started this week.

    The star of the show unsurprisingly came across far better than the “investigators” who previously appeared.

    Lord Arbuthnot (who as an mp was an early supporter of the post masters cause) spent a lot of his time answering questions along the lines of “on x date you met the management who when asked about y told you z” with “yes”.

    Which is going to be awkward for the execs when they get asked to explain that given their emails etc show they knew z was false.

    Then a couple of post office executives including Crozier (RM but the line was blurred at the time) which convinced me that they really do deserve all the money they got paid since clearly the job causes some serious mental damage. At least thats the only logical conclusion why they were so forgetful and couldnt explain their emails.

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