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85 sub-postmasters seek legal support in claims against Post Office computer system

Karl Flinders

Over 80 sub-postmasters are interested in taking legal action against the Post Office in relation to an allegedly faulty computer system which has led to false accounting accusations against them.

In February this year Access Legal, the consumer arm of law firm Shoosmiths, said a total of 55 sub-postmasters were already lined up to bring action.

Now 85 sub-postmasters have contacted Access Legal concerning the Post Office's claims of theft and false accounting. All the postmasters protested their innocence and it has been alleged that the problems could be down to the Post Office's Horizon accounting system, which they all use. The Post Office has denied an IT fault could cause the system to show incorrect balances.

Access Legal said it intends bringing a claim in negligence and/or breach of contract for damages. The damages are based on the loss of investment/capital, loss of shop and Post Office earnings.

The legal firm has issued letters of claim on behalf of an initial group of sub-postmasters. No court proceedings have yet been issued.

Amanda Glover, head of legal disputes at Access Legal said: "We've been contacted by 85 sub-postmasters who have experienced problems and expect there are many more who are yet to get in touch.

"We've not launched a class action, but are dealing with the cases on an individual basis due to the unique circumstances of each claim and the particular losses suffered."

Thousands of Post Offices use the Horizon IT system for their accounts and postmasters claim faults with the technology could be generating unexplained losses. The Post Office has consistently denied this.

In recent years dozens of postmasters have been charged and even jailed with others repaying money following prosecutions. Some Post Offices have been forced to close.

In 2009 Computer Weekly, which has followed the story closely, interviewed some of the sub-postmasters affected.


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