Judge compares Post Office bosses to ‘mid-Victorian factory-owners’

Post Office (PO)

 “The Post Office describes itself as ‘the nation’s most trusted brand’. Yet this application is founded on the premise that the nation’s most trusted brand was not obliged to treat their sub-Postmasters with good faith, and instead entitled to treat them in capricious or arbitrary ways which would not be unfamiliar to a mid-Victorian factory-owner.”

Those were the damning words of Lord Justice Coulson as he threw out an appeal by the company today in the long-running Horizon scandal, in a ruling hailed by CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey as “a momentous decision.

“Justice for Postmasters is long overdue,” said CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey this afternoon, in response to the latest legal development in this shocking case that has seen hundreds of hard-working Postmasters wrongly disciplined, investigated, suspended, sacked and even in the opinion of many falsely prosecuted by the company.

The claimants’ legal team has argued that Horizon is a deeply flawed IT programme which, due to systemic errors within its system, indicated many non-existent financial shortfalls.

Determined to win justice, Postmasters banded together, and formed the Justice For SubPostmasters Alliance (JFSA), which vowed to fight for justice and launched group litigations against the Post office leadership.  Incredibly, the only Post Office-recognised organisation for representing Postmasters – the NFSP, washed their hands of their members over this issue many years ago and have been in denial about the unfair consequences faced by Postmasters due to the Horizon problems ever since.

Today’s hearing was an appeal by the Post office against a ‘Common Issues’ ruling that had been made in favour of the 557 postmaster claimants by Mr Justice Fraser and followed the company’s defeated attempt to have Justice Fraser removed from the case after his initial ruling against the Post Office back in March.

“It’s clear that justice is gradually beginning to be done for these postmasters, who have been treated absolutely appallingly by the Post Office,” said Andy.

“And it’s also clear that with every legal defeat, the leadership of the company seems to be getting ever-more desperate.”

A further legal judgement is expected soon regarding the second case, and a further hearing is scheduled for next March, which will, should the Postmasters ultimately prevail, decide the path to their compensation.

Claims have also been lodged under the offices of the Criminal Cases Review Commission with respect to potential miscarriages of justice in the treatment of a number of the claimants.

“This is a hugely important and significant case, which whilst being a national scandal has largely gone ‘under the radar’ in the current circumstances,” says Andy.

“But I would strongly urge members to follow developments closely, which are also being reported regularly and in detail by the excellent investigative journalist Nick Walls, here: https://www.postofficetrial.com/2018/07/about-me.html and also take a look out this report from Computer Weekly, with some great quotes from Alan Bates, Justice for Sub-Postmasters Alliance https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252474416/Court-of-Appeal-dismisses-Post-Office-application-to-appeal-damning-judgment?platform=hootsuite