Local MP, Graham Stuart, welcomes this week’s promise by the Post Office that it will undertake an external review of the Horizon Post Office accounting system. This announcement follows pressure put on the Post Office by MPs, including Graham.
The Horizon accounting system, used in sub post offices, has given rise to controversy over the past few years, with many Sub-postmasters being accused of fraud and theft.
At a meeting in Parliament on Monday night MPs robustly questioned Post Office Ltd Chairman, Alice Perkins, and Chief Executive, Paula Vennells, on the reliability of the system.
At the meeting the Post Office Chairman and Chief Executive agreed to examine individually cases where Sub-postmasters have been held accountable for monetary losses, which many claim is the fault of the Post Office’s electronic accounting system, Horizon.
Graham said: “ I have heard from several Sub-postmasters who believe Horizon is to blame for accounting errors which the Post Office forces them to pay back personally. If the losses aren’t repaid the Post Office may well prosecute the Sub-postmaster for false accounting.”
Graham went on to say: “I have grave concerns about Horizon as it seems there are numerous ways in which mistakes could occur, and not all of them would be the Sub-postmaster’s fault. I wrote to the Post Office and to the Minister with responsibility for Postal Affairs about Horizon, but both wrote back to say they had absolute confidence in it. So I’m pleased that following pressure from me and other MPs the Post Office has now been pushed into looking at Horizon to see if there are any technical problems with it. Sub-post offices are at the heart of our communities providing many of our much-needed services, and the last thing we want is people not coming forward for this important work because they don’t feel the Post Office would deal with them in a just and fair manner.”
Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of the Post Office said: “The Post Office continues to have absolute confidence in the robustness and integrity of its branch accounting processes. We have no hesitation in agreeing to an external review of these few individual cases that have been raised with us by Mr Arbuthnot and some of his fellow MPs.”