Why the Post Office is still using Horizon IT system despite sub-postmasters scandal

Toby Jones as Alan Bates, who took on the Post Office over the Horizon scandal Credit: ITV / PA

It led to 700 sub-postmasters being accused of siphoning money, contributed to four people taking their own lives, and sparked national outcry - but the Post Office is still using the Horizon IT system.

Following the release of ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, the Horizon scandal has caused national outcry.

Since 1999, Alan Bates and his fellow sub-postmasters have been fighting to clear their names after hundreds were wrongly accused of stealing money after a faulty computer software called Horizon made it appear their was a shortfall in their accounts.

Paul Patterson, Fujitsu’s European boss, was questioned by MPs on Tuesday and apologised for the ‘appalling miscarriage of justice’ Credit: House of Commons/PA

A public inquiry is underway to establish if anyone linked to the Post Office could be held responsible for the wrongful accusations.

One of the groups being scrutinised is Fujitsu, a Japanese company that created the software.

When he appeared before MPs on Tuesday, Fujitsu's Europe director Paul Patterson conceded there were “bugs and errors in the system” and apologised for the “appalling miscarriage of justice”.

But despite this, the Post Office still uses Horizon as an IT system, here is why...

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Is Horizon still being used?

Yes, but not in the same form as the system used by the sub-postmasters who were taken to court due to faults.

The current version was brought in from 2017.

During the group litigation - that saw the Post Office agreeing a joint settlement of £57.75 million in 2019 - it was found the newer system was robust, relative to comparable systems.

Sub-postmasters after having their convictions overturned. Credit: PA

The Post Office said: "We are not complacent about that and are continuing to work, together with our postmasters, to make improvements."

A new IT "cloud-based system" is currently in the works to integrate in the future, and postmasters are being included in its development.

It is unclear when this new system will be rolled out. A spokesperson for Fujitsu did not immediately respond to ITV News' request for comment.

How can the Post Office ensure Horizon doesn't cause issues again?

A key issue with the Horizon scandal was that sub-postmasters were struggling to get help and individuals were told via helplines that they were the only one having the issues.

It created a culture where sub-postmasters felt they were the problem.

The Post Office said this system has since had a full reform.

There are now two working postmasters who are non-executive directors to the Post Office board.

This means issues they are facing in the stores are being relayed back to the top of the organisation.

The Post Office says on its website: "We have undertaken, together with postmasters, vital work to improve our culture, practices and operating procedures throughout every part of the business."We have increased postmasters’ remuneration and transformed the support we provide."

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