Hundreds of sub-postmasters all around the country have been left devastated financially, often losing tens of thousands of pounds, because of problems they believe lie with the Horizon computer system which handles financial payments in post offices. Many sub-postmasters have also lost their post offices and careers, as well as their life-savings.
Over the last couple of years, Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies had taken up the cases of three local sub-postmasters who have seen their livelihoods ruined and their reputations tarnished. Up until now, government ministers have argued that there has been no major “systemic” fault with the computer system.
But the BBC recently revealed parts of the leaked final report by investigators Second Sight, which alleges that training for those without IT skills was inadequate when the new Horizon system was introduced, that equipment was outdated, and that power cuts and communication problems made things worse.
Huw says “Surely this report now needs to be published, so that the facts are out in the open. When people’s lives and reputations have been destroyed, it is indefensible to deny them the full story behind what went wrong. The public will rightly ask what the government is hiding?”
One of the cases Huw has taken up involves an elderly couple who have lost their Post Office business and – in addition – are nearly £20,000 out of pocket from losses they incurred directly from the Horizon problems. They now face a very uncertain retirement, and even have the threat of possible future action by Post Office Ltd hanging over them.
Huw has tabled a parliamentary question asking for the publication of the report, and is seeking a debate in parliament, so that the hundreds of sub-postmasters affected can begin to put their lives back together again.