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Hundreds of sub-postmasters have applied to join IT-related legal action since March

The number of sub-postmasters who claim to have suffered as a result of a faulty Post Office IT system has reached 1,300

A total of 1,300 sub-postmasters who allege they have been wrongly punished due to a faulty accounting system have applied to join a group legal action against the Post Office to seek redress of their grievances.

Not all of the 1,300 will join the action, but there will be an increase on the 198 sub-postmasters originally involved.

In March, the High Court approved the group litigation order (GLO) brought against the Post Office by sub-postmasters. At the time about 1,000 sub-postmasters had applied to join the action. A further 300 have applied to join since March.

Sub-postmasters have until 26 July 2017 to join the action before the cut-off that prevents new claimants from joining.

In 2009, Computer Weekly revealed the stories of sub-postmasters who had received heavy fines and even jail terms for alleged false accounting, which they blamed on the Horizon operating system and its supporting processes.

IT problems not isolated

The GLO will focus on the Post Office’s treatment of sub-postmasters in relation to problems associated with the Horizon accounting system. Part of the case will focus on claims that the Post Office failed to properly investigate account shortfalls that were questioned by sub-postmasters and that it was to quick to seek legal action against sub-postmasters.

The group legal action was initiated by the Justice for Sub Postmasters Alliance (JFSA), set up by former sub-postmaster Alan Bates in 2009.

Bates said: “Our evidence will show how sub-postmasters were kept in the dark by Post Office about the scale and frequency of the problems and were made to feel like isolated cases. This misinformation deterred many from challenging Post Office. However, as a united group, we can see the patterns of behaviour. Acting together we have the chance to take on this injustice and hold Post Office to account for its actions.”

“Acting together we have the chance to take on this injustice and hold Post Office to account for its actions”
Alan Bates, JFSA

The Post Office denies the claims, and when the GLO was granted in January it said it “welcomed the progress made” but could not otherwise comment on live litigation.

The JFSA has analysed the people who have so far applied to join the action. It said most have been pursued for money by the Post Office in relation to alleged losses, with most also suffering ill health or reputational damage. Many said they felt pressure to resign.

Post Office Horizon: Timeline of events

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