Fraud at the PO | God's World News

Fraud at the PO

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    A Post Office in London, England (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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    Alan Bates gives evidence by video link to the Business and Trade Committee at the Houses of Parliament in London, England, on January 16, 2024. Bates led a campaign for justice for those harmed by the Post Office scandal. (House of Commons via AP)
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    Paul Patterson, a Fujitsu executive, speaks to the Business and Trade Committee at the Houses of Parliament on January 16, 2024. (House of Commons via AP)
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    Member of Parliament David Davis asks a question during a meeting regarding the Post Office Horizon scandal on January 10, 2024. (Maria Unger/UK Parliament via AP)
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    Investigator Stephen Bradshaw gives evidence during an inquiry into the Post Office scandal on January 11, 2024. (Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry/PA via AP)
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A miscarriage of justice. Hundreds wrongfully accused. Denials, cover-ups, and obfuscations. Now British police are investigating the seedy underworld of . . . the Post Office.

Post Office Ltd. is a company in the United Kingdom. It has about 11,500 branch offices. Branch managers called subpostmasters operate the offices.

In 1999, Japanese tech firm Fujitsu helped computerize Post Office transactions. From the outset, Fujitsu’s Horizon computer system had problems. Workers complained about accounting errors. The company saw two possible scenarios: Managers were dishonest, or Horizon had flaws.

Post Office Ltd. decided on dishonest managers.

Assuming the worst of others is too often a default setting. Remember that your sins have been forgiven by God. That frees you to treat others with optimism and grace—as you’d want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

The real culprit at the Post Office was a faulty system. And that IT error turned into an IT terror.

Office accounts didn’t balance. Sometimes they were over, sometimes under. The Post Office held subpostmasters liable for shortfalls. In one instance, a shortage was more than $30,000!

Some managers were financially ruined or went to prison. Tragically, several took their own lives.

Lee Castleton was a subpostmaster for Post Office Ltd. He went bankrupt after being pursued for missing funds. Neighbors shunned his family. Castleton’s daughter endured bullying because people thought her father was a crook.

Over the course of 16 years, Post Office officials accused more than 700 managers of theft or fraud.

For years, Post Office Ltd. maintained Horizon’s reliability. Finally, in 2020, a British court voided some Horizon-related convictions. A judge declared that Post Office Ltd. “knew there were serious issues” with Horizon.

In January, broadcast television network ITV dropped a bombshell series. Mr. Bates vs the Post Office attempts to reveal the truth about Horizon and Post Office Ltd. It charts a two-decade battle by real-life branch manager Alan Bates.

After the show aired, some 50 potential victims approached lawyers. They say Post Office Ltd. wronged them too. To date, judges have overturned 95 postal worker convictions. British police are charging Post Office officials with fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

“We were involved from the very start. We did have bugs and errors in the system. And we did help the Post Office in their prosecutions,” admits Fujitsu CEO Paul Patterson. He has now issued a full apology.

Post Office Chief Executive Nick Read took over after the scandal. He welcomes the TV series. Read hopes it “encourage[s] anyone affected who has not yet come forward to seek the redress and compensation they deserve.”

Why? Be slow to accuse or to believe the worst about people—since you often don’t have all of the facts of a story.

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