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Post Office's £100M Legal Battle Despite Knowing Faulty Defense: Secret Papers Reveal

Secret documents reveal the Post Office engaged in a £100M legal battle against sub-postmasters, despite flawed defense evidence.

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Post Office's £100M Legal Battle Despite Knowing Faulty Defense: Secret Papers Reveal

Post Office's £100M Legal Battle Despite Knowing Faulty Defense: Secret Papers Reveal

Secret documents obtained by the BBC disclose that the Post Office engaged in £100 million worth of legal battles against sub-postmasters despite being aware their defense was flawed. The draft report, titled Bramble, commissioned by the Post Office and conducted by Deloitte, unveiled that the Post Office had evidence by 2017 indicating losses could be attributed to errors in the Horizon IT system or remote tampering. Yet, in the Bates v Post Office Ltd case, they continued to blame theft or mistakes by sub-postmasters. Patrick Green KC, the lead barrister for the sub-postmasters, described the findings as "absolutely shocking," stating that the case should not have proceeded under these revelations.

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Background of the Dispute

From 1999 to 2015, over 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted due to faults with the Horizon system developed by Fujitsu. This issue culminated in the landmark Bates v Post Office High Court case between 2018 and 2019, brought forward by 555 sub-postmasters. They argued that missing cash was not due to theft but flaws within Horizon or Fujitsu's failed attempts to correct system errors remotely. Despite these allegations, the Post Office spent £100 million in public money defending its stance, a decision now scrutinized due to the revelations in the Bramble draft report.

Evidence of Misconduct

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The Bramble report initially intended to remain confidential, demonstrates that Post Office management and its lawyers were aware of the potential for remote tampering by Fujitsu staff without sub-postmasters knowledge. Furthermore, it highlighted the possibility of transactions being altered, added, or deleted by a malicious actor at Fujitsu without leaving any trace. This contradicts the Post Office's defense in the Bates case, where it claimed such remote causation of significant shortfalls was impossible. Deloitte's report detailed hundreds of debited transactions performed by non-branch users, attributing a loss of £1.3 million across 18 branches involved in the litigation.

The discovery of the Bramble report has ignited outrage among the affected sub-postmasters and their legal representatives. Joan Bailey, one of the sub-postmasters mentioned in the report, expressed her anger upon learning of its contents, lamenting the unnecessary grief and heartache it caused. The report's public disclosure, now available on the Post Office inquiry website, raises significant questions about the ethical responsibilities of the Post Office's legal team and management. It also sheds light on the extent of knowledge within the organization regarding the issues with Horizon, questioning the justification behind the continued prosecution of numerous sub-postmasters.

As this story unfolds, the ramifications of the Bramble report's findings are far-reaching, potentially impacting future legal proceedings, compensation claims, and the reputation of the Post Office. The affected sub-postmasters quest for justice and acknowledgment of their wrongful prosecutions continues, with this latest revelation marking a significant development in their long-standing battle.

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