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    Post Office IT scandal: Hollinrake calls on for jail for culprits as inquiry resumes

    Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

    Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake has said people responsible for the Horizon scandal “should go to jail” as next phase of the UK Post Office Horizon public inquiry is set to resume this week.

    The Public Inquiry re-commencing on Tuesday (9) is set to see evidences from Alan Bates (founder of the Justice for Sub-postmasters Alliance), Lord Arbuthnot (former MP who has led the drive for justice), Sir Anthony Hooper (former Lord Justice of Appeal), David Smith (former MD of POL), Sir Michael Hodkinson (former Chair of POL), Alan Cook (former Independent NED and MD of POL) and Adam Crozier (former CEO of Royal Mail Group).

    Bates, who appeared before MPs in January, will give evidence to the inquiry on Tuesday (9) while Crozier, who headed Royal Mail when it owned the Post Office between 2003 and 2010, will on Friday (12) provide detailed testimony about his actions for the first time.

    He will be followed in the coming weeks by former directors of the Post Office including Paula Vennells, who will be grilled about why the state-owned body wrongly prosecuted hundreds of people.

    Alan Cook, the former managing director of Post Office who went on to chair the insurer Liverpool Victoria, will also appear on Friday (12). Allan Leighton, the ex-chief executive of Asda who was a former chair of Royal Mail between 2002 and 2009, will testify later this month.

    The probe, headed by retired judge Sir Wyn Williams since 2020, has so far taken evidence from dozens of witnesses who have attested to widespread failures by the state-owned Post Office in its pursuit of sub-postmasters for account shortfalls.

    Meanwhile, Hollinrake said today (8) on BBC Breakfast, “The inquiry is unearthing the evidence, what you see now is a result of the inquiry, the statutory inquiry. The Metropolitan police are undertaking an investigation – the Government doesn’t do that, the police do that.

    “When evidence has been established, people should be prosecuted – that’s my view. And I think you, and other people I’ve spoken to, and I certainly feel, people within the Post Office, possibly further afield, should go to jail.”

    “We have to go through a process, we believe in the rule of law – lots of people in this room, and other people, have not had the benefit of the rule of law. It has failed, failed these people, inexcusably. We do believe in process, that’s the country we are very proud to live in.

    “But if the threshold is met, the evidence is there, where criminal prosecutions can be undertaken – and that those people are found guilty – I have no reservation in saying people should go to jail.”

    The former Post Office boss Paula Vennells, who ran the Post Office while it routinely denied there was a problem with its Horizon IT system, has already forfeited her CBE for “bringing the honours system into disrepute” over her handling of the Horizon crisis.

    Fujitsu’s Europe chief Paul Patterson has said it was “shameful and appalling” that courts hearing cases against post office operators over missing funds were not told of 29 bugs identified as early as 1999 in the accounting system it built.

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