Post Office Destroyed Hundreds of Subpostmasters Lives

by Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance - JFSA

Post Office Destroyed Hundreds of Subpostmasters Lives

by Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance - JFSA
Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance - JFSA
Case Owner
The Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) was formed in 2009 by a small group of Subpostmasters from all around the country who had suffered serious problems with Post Office
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Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance - JFSA
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The Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) was formed in 2009 by a small group of Subpostmasters from all around the country who had suffered serious problems with Post Office
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Latest: July 9, 2020

How Government Plans to Bury Its Failures

We're very grateful for all the support from everyone so far, but if you need even more reasons to support our funding campaign for a Parliamentary Ombudsman's investigation you only have to …

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Backed by Government funding, and during years of Government failings to manage and oversee it, Post Office Limited has been allowed to ruin the lives of hundreds of Subpostmasters and their families.

‘Hundreds of Post Office workers ‘vindicated’ by High Court ruling over faulty IT system that left them bankrupt and in prison’  - The Independent

‘How Subpostmasters made legal history with biggest referral of potential miscarriages of justice’   - Computer Weekly

‘Post Office executives used ‘grotesque predatory capitalism’ throughout Horizon IT scandal’  - Computer Weekly

What Price Victory?

£86,000 is the average cost of ‘victory’ that each of the 555 ‘successful’ victims have had to pay for daring to expose in Court the truth behind almost 20 years of state sponsored cover up and lies by Post Office Limited.

Post Office's conduct and lies have resulted in hundreds of mainly ex-Subpostmasters losing their business, their livelihoods, homes, health and having their reputations destroyed in their local communities. There have been numerous instances of bankruptcies, imposed debt, damaged mental health, suicidal events including unsafe criminal prosecutions that, in light of recent evidence in Court have now been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. You can read more about them on our sister page.

‘Met Police assessing evidence of potential perjury in Post Office IT trials’ - Computer Weekly

'Post Office faces potential criminal probe over Fujitsu IT system's accounting failures' - The Register

What Next?

After such a 'victory' the victims of Post Office cannot afford another £46m court case - they're still paying for the last one!  The legal funding costs are not recoverable in law from Post Office Limited, the losing defendants, and effectively these and other costs have been taken from the settlement meant for the victims.

But the cover up that has gone on within Government must be investigated, and the most cost effective way of pursuing this now is through the the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Help us fund the legal support we need to prepare our submission to the Ombudsman to ensure our documents focus on our strongest points in our claim of maladministration by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Help us recover the costs of that ‘victory’, and to expose Government’s failure to undertake its statutory duty of oversight and management of its 100% owned subsidiary, Post Office Limited.

Who we are

The Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) was formed in 2009 by a small group of Subpostmasters from all around the country who had suffered serious problems with Post Office and its Horizon computer system introduced in 2000. The JFSA continues to be the workhorse behind the campaign to expose this state sponsored cover up and injustice.

After years of campaigning and despite considerable support from MPs, the group, having grown to 555 of mainly ex Subpostmasters, were left with no option but to bring a civil litigation action against Post Office Limited.  The case, known as Alan Bates & Others vs Post Office Limited, comprised of two 4 week trials that were held in the High Court during November 2018 and March 2019.  The first trial tested Common Issues, in other words the nature of the contractual arrangement between Subpostmasters and Post Office Limited; the second trial tested the Horizon computer system, and in particular addressed the design bugs and operational flaws designed into the Post Office’s Horizon computer system, which Subpostmasters had no choice but to use.

‘Post Office IT contractor faces prosecution after judge's 'grave concerns' about evidence’  - Law Gazette

Despite Post Office attempting to recuse the judge and then appealing to the Court of Appeal to try and overturn the Court’s findings, the judgments from both trials were upheld and both were hailed as outstanding successes for the claimant group.  You can read the full judgments or a brief summary of some of the findings from both trials.

It is worth restating that there is absolutely no doubt that the reason that the JFSA had to bring a legal action was because the sole shareholder of Post Office Limited, the Government, through the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (formally known as Business, Innovations & Skills), had for many years failed to undertake its statutory duties of overseeing and managing Post Office Limited. These were failures, which year after year, numerous MPs and the JFSA had raised with Ministers and the relevant Government departments.  The only responses ever received from Ministers were utter denials that such problems existed within the Post Office and its Horizon system and the numerous reassurances by Post Office to Ministers and the House of Commons of how robust the Horizon system was - claims that were utterly destroyed in the Court.

‘MPs to grill Post Office and Fujitsu execs on Horizon IT scandal after workers jailed over accounting errors - Flawed platform was used to throw fraud charges about’ - The Register

A third trial was due to begin in March 2020, however in December 2019, as part of the Civil Litigation process, both parties entered into Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mediation to gauge whether a settlement agreement could be reached without further legal action.  Regrettably, after legal and other advice, and only due to the economics of progressing further in the courts, the claimant group were put in a position were it had little option but to accept a settlement in order to obtain the best outcome for the group of claimants as a whole. Put simply, Post Office Limited had outspent us, having thrown in the region of £120m of public money at this case, relying on the deep pockets of its only shareholder, the Government, something Post Office Limited proudly boasts about on its corporate page - ‘Backed by Government funding’.

What Settlement?

The claimant group in the post Mediation Contract Settlement received a settlement figure of £57.75m, of which £46m was instantly eaten by the funding costs of taking the legal action, meaning little was left for 555 to share, especially when, at an earlier time, it had been calculated that on average, each claimant’s loss was in the order of £700,000 (an equivalent of £388m for the group).  It seems that under English Law, after 1 April 2013, it is no longer possible to recoup the costs of funding a civil action in the courts as recoverable legal costs or as part of a legal settlement.  

The reality of the situation is that the 555 claimants in the group action have, on average, been fined a further £86,000 each for daring to expose the failings of Post Office and its Horizon system in the courts. 

This is money that Post Office's owner and sole shareholder, the Government, owes the claimant group because it had failed to undertake its statutory duties to oversee and manage Post Office and who we now need to pursue in order to redress the penalty inflicted on the group. 

The JFSA intend to address this costs issue through the office of the Ombudsman to establish the full extent of the maladministration of the Government and the civil service who have clearly failed to carry out their duties which allowed Post Office to run amok for years without proper control, creating a situation that meant the group had no option other than to use the Courts to expose the truth.  

The horror stories of the way a state owned corporation bullied and lied to so many of the victims of Post Office over many years and with such frequency is a scandal that has regularly been reported in the media or raised by MPs and you can catch up with many of these comments here.

Please help us fund the legal support we need to prepare our submission to the Ombudsman to ensure our documents focus on our strongest points in our claim of maladministration by BEIS. Help us recover the costs of that ‘victory’, and to expose Government’s failure to undertake its statutory duty of oversight and management of Post Office Limited.

We need your help, no matter how little, to raise the money to prepare our submission to the Ombudsman and start our journey of recovering our costs.  

Whilst recovering these costs will never come close to fully redressing the harm Post Office inflicted on so many.  Subpostmasters, who are so central to a community and  who lost their homes, businesses, made bankrupt, and in some instance prosecuted and imprisoned, still need to find some financial redress..They are all victims of wrongs that arose from the faulty Horizon computer system run by an incompetent Government that owns 100% of a corporation that still refuses to account for its administrative failures, and those responsible need to be exposed.

And yet, still it goes on - ‘Another 500 Post Office staff could have been wrongfully convicted of theft after last year's £58million settlement over an IT glitch’ 

Much has been written about this and you can read and find out more here. https://www.jfsa.org.uk/documentation.html

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Update 1

Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance - JFSA

July 9, 2020

How Government Plans to Bury Its Failures

We're very grateful for all the support from everyone so far, but if you need even more reasons to support our funding campaign for a Parliamentary Ombudsman's investigation you only have to watch this clip to see how HMG are planning to bury the victims of Post Office if we fail to meet our target. https://youtu.be/rUvnDn6oYEA

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