UK Post Office software bug created false financial shortfalls in branches sent people bankrupt and to prison

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UK Post Office software bug created false financial shortfalls in branches sent people bankrupt and to prison

Incompetence on a criminal scale? A buggy software program in the UK Post Office system may have caused financial issues for many sub-postmasters.

Sub-postmasters, which are not employed directly by the Post Office but run smaller offices around the UK, have been accused of financial shortfalls in their offices for years by the UK Post Office itself. As it turns out, these shortfalls didn't really exist -- they were falsely created by bugs in the company's accounting software.

The software is the Post Office's Horizon computer system. It processes all transactions in the sub-postmaster offices and is reported to the Post Office. Horizon has been notifying some of the 11,500 branches that they've had money shortfalls as high as 9,000. According to the sub-postmasters' contracts with the UK Post Office, they must pay the difference when shortfalls occur. This has led to many problems for sub-postmasters, such as debt (for having to pay the difference themselves), imprisonment and loss of contracts. However, independent investigation company Second Sight was employed to look into the problem after many sub-postmasters started complaining that these shortfalls can't be real.

Second Sight found bugs in the Horizon system, but no systematic problems. Further investigation is required, but so far, reports are leaning toward the software as the culprit for the shortfalls.

The UK Post Office has cleared the sub-postmasters of these losses, no longer seeing them as liable. But over 100 sub-postmasters are looking to sue the Post Office over the prosecutions that have already occurred. Many sub-postmasters have had serious financial problems with the trouble caused by Horizon. Jo Hamilton, who used to run a sub-post office in South Warnborough, Hampshire, is just one of these cases.
... Quote:
I got to the end of one week and I was 2,000 short so I rang the helpdesk and they told me to do various things and then it said I was 4,000 short," said Hamilton. "They then said I had to pay them the 4,000 because that's what my contract says - that I would make good any losses. Then while I was repaying that it jumped up to 9,000.

Ms Hamilton said that, by the time the figure reached 36,000, she lied to the Post Office - wrongly telling them the books were balancing just so that she could open the office the next day. As result of that, she pleaded guilty to false accounting. She has been paying back the money ever since.

She says the sub-postmasters who have registered an interest in bringing a legal claim are "all really, really angry".

... Quote:
We want justice for what has been awful. Some people have gone to prison. One gentleman had worked for the Royal Mail for 40 years and he ends up spending his 60th birthday in prison - you don't suddenly turn into a criminal at that age.
The UK Post Office insists that its Horizon software is effective, but plans to boost training and support for the system.


 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/u...


 http://www.dailytech.com/UK...
By netchicken: posted on 11-7-2013








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