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How to suppress a scandal, Pt 94
Post Office I.T. , Issue 1388
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IN A desperate attempt to suppress a scandal of its own making, the Post Office has sacked and gagged independent forensic investigators who were less than 24 hours away from circulating a highly damaging report into its pisspoor IT system Horizon.

More than 100 sub-postmasters claim they’ve been hounded from their jobs and livelihoods because of problems with the ancient IT system. Some were handed criminal convictions which may be unsafe. There is one documented suicide.

Last week the Post Office ordered Second Sight, the investigating firm, to hand over or destroy all material it has accumulated in the course of its two-and-a-half-year study. Then it cancelled all further scheduled meetings of the independent committee set up to oversee the investigation and the mediation scheme for aggrieved sub-postmasters. Finally, Post Office bosses published their own 187-page report into Horizon, which cleared itself of any wrongdoing.

Car-crash performance
Unsurprisingly, MPs are spitting feathers. Backbenchers with constituents who have fallen foul of Horizon on the flimsiest uncorroborated computer evidence have been trying to get answers from the Post Office for years. Hampshire Tory James Arbuthnot, who has led the way, secured a question at Prime Minister’s Questions demanding that the Second Sight work “should not be suppressed”. He was reassured that the business select committee was looking into it.

Given the car-crash performance of the Post Office’s chief executive Paula Vennells at February’s committee hearing (see Eye 1386), and the pre-Christmas breakdown of trust between MPs and Post Office managers (described in parliament as “arrogant”, “high-handed” and “duplicitous”), the best hope is that the business secretary after the election launches a full inquiry that the Post Office can’t quash at will.

More top stories in the latest issue:

ANNUITY VACUITY
The chancellor’s pensions bribes for older voters may pay dividends at the ballot box… but the spivs, crooks and mis-sellers are rubbing their hands.

CONDUCT UNBECOMING
Why Financial Conduct Authority chair John Griffiths-Jones must leave the room when the FCA looks into HSBC, HBOS… and the Co-op too!

CASH IN THE ATTICS
Revealing the illicit funds held in the UK by Vladimir Putin’s pals will only shine an awkward light on the UK’s lax approach to money laundering.

MAHOGANY BOMBERS
The former generals and defence ministers who speak up for more military spending but are reticent about their own ‘special interests’.

BAD MAX
Maximus, the firm that’s taken over the coalition’s fitness-to-work tests for disabled people, is accused of ripping off governments elsewhere.

SUE, MESSIT & STUMBLE
How lawyers pursuing George Galloway’s Twittersphere critics got in such a pickle they had to call in Carter-Fuck to help them out.

JERSEY PLOYS
The US journalist repeatedly arrested by UK Border Agency staff after she tried to investigate the child abuse scandal in Jersey, island of secrets.

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For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.
Next issue on sale: 31st March 2015.

Private Eye Issue 1387
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