THE Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee of the House of Commons on Wednesday (4) launched an inquiry on issues emerging from the court cases over the Horizon IT system of the Post Office.
The inquiry will look at the impact on sub-postmasters and its effect on the future viability of the organisation, besides examining the lessons the government and Post Office have learned from the scandal.
Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Hundreds of sub-postmasters have suffered considerable distress, and many have had their lives ruined by the faults in the Horizon IT system”.
“Following December’s high court ruling in favour of the sub-postmasters, and the finding that Horizon was flawed, it’s right to examine what the Post Office Ltd and the government have learned from this scandal and establish what steps they are taking to ensure something similar never happens again.”
The claimant sub-postmasters and Post Office have agreed to settle the long-running trial, a week before the high court ruled last year in favour of the sub-postmasters at the Horizon Issues trial, second of a series of trials brought out by 557 current and former sub-postmasters.
The judgment in the first trial in the case, which considered nature of the contract between the claimants and Post Office- were also in favour of the postmasters.
“The case also raises concerns about the damage caused to the relationship between Post Office Ltd and the sub-postmasters and about what this means for the future of our post-office network,” Reeves added.
“We will hear from sub-postmasters about the impact of Horizon on their lives and take the opportunity to hold executives from Post Office Ltd and Fujitsu to account for their handling of the problems around the Horizon IT and accounting system.”
Due to defects in the Horizon computer system, introduced by the Post Office in 1999, some 550 sub-postmasters and mistresses were accused of theft. Many were stripped of their establishments and forced to pay back thousands of pounds they hadn’t stolen.