Forensic Accountant supports Post Office scandal victims

A dramatisation of the Post Office Horizon scandal aired over the New Year demonstrates the importance of forensic audits in defence of fraud.

The four-part series entitled Mr Bates vs the Post Office tells the story of Post Office staff who found themselves accused of stealing thousands of pounds from their branches.

Between 2000 and 2014, more than 700 Subpostmasters were falsely prosecuted based on incorrect information from the Post Office’s Horizon computer system, implemented by Fujitsu.

Some pleaded guilty to false accounting and theft, despite knowing they had done nothing wrong, four of the accused killed themselves and many were ruined financially. Tragically, some Subpostmasters have died before knowing that some redress had been made during years of investigation.

Subpostmaster Alan Bates, after whom the series was named, had his contract terminated by the Post Office in 2003 after he refused to accept liability for alleged losses in his branch and he and his wife lost the £65,000 they had invested in the business.

Mr Bates always maintained that the shortfalls in his account were the result of glitches in the Horizon computer system.

In 2013, the Post Office hired an independent firm of forensic accountants, Second Sight, to look at its Horizon computer system and investigate Subpostmaster complaints.

In 2019, the firm’s Managing Director Roy Warmington, released a statement castigating the Post Office for its treatment of Subpostmasters.

On top of scrutiny of the accounts, Mr Warmington’s belief in the innocence of the Subpostmasters was fuelled by interviews with them when it became “very rapidly obvious “that many had suffered life-changing damage because they received no investigative support when mysterious shortfalls appeared in their accounts.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “The Horizon fiasco remains one of the most significant accounting scandals of the last two decades and is finally getting the attention it deserves.

“This latest dramatisation has demonstrated the essential role played by forensic accountants earlier in the tragic saga.

“Their role now is to help the claimants obtain the fair compensation that they deserve and to calculate how much they need to restore them to the financial position in which they would have been today had it not been for the wrongful actions of the Post Office.”


Sources: ITV, Computer Weekly, Mirror

Posted in The Forensic Blog.