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Ex-Post Office executive regrets not reading IT expert’s report

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A FORMER Post Office official told the Horizon Scandal public inquiry that he regretted not going through a report compiled by an IT expert and sees it as a missed opportunity to halt the scandal in 2004.

The report by IT consultant Jason Coyne found that the IT system was defective. He was commissioned by the Post Office as an expert witness for a civil case.

David Miller, a former Post Office chief operations officer, said on Tuesday (16) that had he read the report and listened to the counsel’s advice he could have taken remedial actions.

During the trial, Sam Stein, a lawyer representing some of the victims of the scandal, had exhorted Miller to read the report.

In the civil case against sub-postmistress Julie Wolstenholme, who ran a branch in Cleveleys, Lancashire, the Post Office had claimed a loss of £25,000. As part of the case, Post Office had instructed Coyne to assess whether she was responsible for the losses.

Coyne claimed that when he flagged discrepancies in the software, he was sacked and the Post Office tried to discredit his report.

Before his promotion, Miller was in charge of getting the Horizon system up and running from 1998 to 2000.

He was recorded as saying at a board meeting in July 1999 that the system was “fit for purpose” after testing.

However, Miller admitted he was aware that sub-postmasters were having problems with it a month before.

Miller also regretted not letting the head of the Post Office investigations team, Tony Marsh, and group lawyers know about problems with inaccuracies in the system.

While prosecuting the sub-postmasters, the Post Office stuck to the stand that Horizon IT system was robust.

Between 1999 and 2015, the government-run Post Office prosecuted more than 700 sub-postmasters using faulty data from the Horizon system, and more than 900 were prosecuted over all.

The post office operators were accused of financial shortfalls and many were told to pay up.

It has since emerged that discrepancies had been caused by IT bugs within the Post Office Horizon computer system.

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