IT expert says Post Office 'covered up' report showing software flaws 20 years ago

  • IT expert Jason Coyne warned Post Office of 'software bugs' in 2003

An IT expert has revealed he warned the Post Office of flaws in its Horizon IT system 20 years ago but his report was "ignored."

Jason Coyne analysed data for the Cleveleys branch in Lancashire in 2003, and found what he described as 'significant discrepancies' in the software.

The expert, who is from Preston, said that at one point he was asked by Post Office lawyers if he would be likely to alter his opinion and he replied ‘no'.

He said said that at least 61 of 90 calls by the sub-postmistress to Horizon's helpline were a result of "bugs and defects", but claimed the Post Office took a "delusional view" dismissing his findings and continued with prosecutions.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted of fraud and theft between the years of 1999 and 2015 after a fault in the software created discrepancies in their accounts, making it look like cash was missing.

Mr Coyne said the Post Office took 'delusional' view ignoring the data

In 2016, Mr Coyne was approached by Alan Bates, who was one of the main claimants who brought a case against the Post Office and went on to inspire the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

He was instructed as an expert witness in the case but this time for the sub-postmasters - and found the similar discrepancies he had revealed 15 years before.

"I feel very sad that action wasn't taken back in 2003 because the data was there", Jason explains.

"It is quite surprising that almost nothing had advanced between the 2003 and 2016 Horizon system, it seemed to be suffering the same sorts of bugs errors and defects all the way through."

"What the Post Office appeared to do is simply not accept, and believe the postmaster is responsible for this loss, rather than look at the technology."

A public inquiry looking into the failings of the Horizon system and the wrongful convictions of sub-postmasters is due to finish this year.

Hundreds of Post Office branch managers who were wrongly convicted in the Horizon IT scandal could have their names cleared by the end of the year.

The Prime Minister announced Blanket legislation to exonerate sub-postmasters convicted in England and Wales will be introduced within weeks.

Rishi Sunak said they were victims of "one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation's history".

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