Angela van den Bogerd


The British Post Office scandal, also called the Horizon IT scandal, involved Post Office Limited pursuing thousands of innocent subpostmasters for shortfalls in their accounts, which had in fact been caused by faults in Horizon, accounting software developed by Fujitsu. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 subpostmasters were convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting based on faulty Horizon data, with about 700 of these prosecutions carried out by the Post Office. Other subpostmasters were prosecuted but not convicted, forced to cover Horizon shortfalls with their own money, or had their contracts terminated. The court cases, criminal convictions, imprisonments, loss of livelihoods and homes, debts and bankruptcies, took a heavy toll on the victims and their families, leading to stress, illness, family breakdown, and at least four suicides. In 2024, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the scandal as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British history.

Although many subpostmasters had reported problems with the new software, and Fujitsu was aware that Horizon contained software bugs as early as 1999, the Post Office insisted that Horizon was robust and failed to disclose knowledge of the faults in the system during criminal and civil cases. In 2009, Computer Weekly broke the story about problems with Horizon and subpostmaster Alan Bates launched the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA). In 2012, following pressure from campaigners and Members of Parliament, the Post Office appointed forensic accountants from the firm Second Sight to conduct an investigation into Horizon. Together with Second Sight and the JFSA, the Post Office then set up a mediation scheme for subpostmasters, but terminated it after eighteen months.