Subpostmaster calls for names of Submit Workplace executives who crushed him to suffocate fact
The lives of former subpostmaster Lee Castleton and his household had been knowingly destroyed by Submit Workplace executives as a result of they needed to set an instance that might deter moreover subpostmasters from questioning the reliability of its laptop system.
In 2006, when his department confirmed a lack of £26,000 that he couldn’t clarify, the Submit Workplace demanded that Castleton made up the shortfall.
Castleton at all times stated the losses in his accounts had been brought on by laptop errors, however had no approach of proving this on the time.
He was so involved in regards to the debt that he refused to pay it again, and determined to go to court docket to contest the Submit Workplace’s insistence that he ought to pay.
The Submit Workplace threw all the things on the authorized problem introduced by Castleton and the court docket dominated that the debt was actual, not illusory as Castleton argued. Submit Workplace witnesses in his case stated there was no proof of any drawback with the system and that they had been unable to establish any foundation upon which the Horizon system might have brought on Castleton’s losses.
“The losses will need to have been brought on by his personal error or that of his assistants,” the decide stated in 2007. “It’s inescapable that the Horizon system was working correctly in all materials respects.”
The decide in Castleton’s case awarded the Submit Workplace damages of roughly £26,000, the quantity of the unexplained loss, and prices of £321,000, which bankrupted Castleton.
It has emerged within the inquiry that the Submit Workplace needed to make use of the Castleton case to “ship a transparent message” to different subpostmasters that it might take a agency line on these elevating comparable allegations.
Castleton is one in every of hundreds of subpostmasters blamed for unexplained shortfalls of their department accounts. They had been made to repay them, regardless of many believing that the errors had been brought on by the Horizon system. Many subpostmasters had been made bankrupt by the method and over 730 had been convicted of crimes together with fraud and theft.
Castleton was one in every of seven former subpostmasters interviewed by Computer Weekly in a 2009 investigation.
After the introduction of the Horizon laptop system from Fujitsu in 2000 to automate beforehand largely guide processes, subpostmasters began having hassle balancing their accounts. When challenged, the Submit Workplace denied that laptop errors existed and advised every of the subpostmasters individually that they had been the one ones having issues. Had Castleton gained his case, this false Submit Workplace declare would have been uncovered.
It was within the Excessive Court docket in 2019 that it was proved that errors in the Horizon system had been certainly guilty.
Regardless of its data of errors within the system when it was rolled out, the Post Office not only hid them, however did all the things it might to cease the errors from being revealed in court docket.
Paperwork revealed throughout latest hearings within the Submit Workplace Horizon public inquiry have make clear the Submit Workplace’s technique to make use of all its powers to crush Castleton in court docket to discourage others from difficult the Submit Workplace over alleged laptop errors.
The present section of the statutory public inquiry into what’s now often known as the Submit Workplace Horizon Scandal lately realized the lengths that the Submit Workplace was keen to go to to cease Castleton from profitable in court docket and proving the Horizon system was flawed.
Throughout a latest inquiry listening to, barrister Flora Web page, representing former subpostmasters affected by the Horizon scandal, referred to a doc which can seem on the inquiry at a later date.
“What we now know from paperwork on this inquiry, which haven’t but been picked over, however which I can quote to you briefly…”
Quoting the doc, Web page stated there was a transparent intent on the a part of the Submit Workplace with authorized recommendation to defeat Castleton in court docket and declare heavy prices “…to not make a internet monetary restoration, however to defend the Horizon system and hopefully ship a transparent message to different subpostmasters that the Submit Workplace will take a agency line and to discourage others from elevating comparable allegations”.
Web page advised the inquiry: “In order that was the aim. It was not ever envisaged that the Submit Workplace would really get that prices order again – that was a loss chief, if you happen to like. However the goal was to ship a transparent message to discourage others.”
The doc is predicted to seem later, when the explanations and motivation for the proceedings in opposition to Castleton, and conduct of these proceedings, are examined.
Web page stated Castleton “misplaced all the things he’d invested in his department, he misplaced his residing, his household had been handled like thieves, they usually endured years of hardship”.
Castleton advised Laptop Weekly: “I need the title of the one who determined to do that to be made public by the inquiry, as a result of that individual made horrible choices that brought on so many penalties to my household. I can’t inform you how painful the journey has been for the final 20 years.”
On the time of his problem to the Submit Workplace, it was decided that one error, often known as the Calendar Sq. bug, was not revealed to Castleton’s authorized staff.
In a latest inquiry listening to, an e mail from December 2006, despatched from a Submit Workplace government concerned in dispute decision to an government from Horizon provider Fujitsu, was marked “Calendar Sq.: URGENT”.
The e-mail learn: “Our authorized staff on the court docket shall be doing their finest to influence the court docket to not permit [Lee] Castleton to name this proof as a result of it’s filed late and doesn’t relate to the issues at his department. If they’re profitable there shall be no have to progress additional with these investigations, however as Castleton is a litigant in individual it is not uncommon for judges to be sympathetic and should permit him to depend on this proof. In that case you’ll have to pull out all of the stops to research what, if something, went mistaken at these branches and why we are able to distinguish them from Mr Castleton at [his branch].”
Castleton stated: “Seeing these paperwork within the inquiry makes me sick. All this ache and anguish now we have been via as a household, and now we all know that this was hidden by the Submit Workplace. They’ve continued to do that over time to make it tough for everyone. If solely they’d been open and sincere from the beginning, we might have gotten to the underside of this and it might have been much less painful for everyone.”