Public inquiry launched after 736 UK post office workers falsely convicted of fraud

Originally published at: Public inquiry launched after 736 UK post office workers falsely convicted of fraud | Boing Boing


If people want to catch up on the background to this story; the BBC Radio 4 Series ‘The Great Post Office Trial’ is well worth your time:


I suspect that’s the key to the whole thing. It’s not just malice. It’s racist malice.


I look forward to those guilty of fraudulent prosecution receiving jail time and heavy fines.



Yeah, no. Not the most widespread miscarriage of justice in the UK history. Probably not even close to the most widespread miscarriage of justice in the UK history. I mean, where do you even begin with that…


Well, that’s some dystopian shit right there. “The computer says a crime has been committed, and it must be you. Even though we have no evidence a crime was committed or that you did it. Oh well.” But I’m reminded of the description of the premise of dystopian fiction, taking things that have systematically happened to people of color and asked: “But what if this atrocity had happened to white people instead?” Really the “dystopian” element is the slavish willingness to believe software over evidence.

And the sort of malice that doesn’t even need to be active - just the sort that gives permission to people to passively allow a great miscarriage of justice to occur. To not care that the cases don’t add up. I.e. the sort that’s ubiquitous in the US criminal “justice” system and probably the British as well.


A serious contributor to the miscarriage was that the investigations were carried out by the Post Office – not the normal police.


“the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history”. Not even in the top 100.


One of the really bad parts is that the gutsy folk who refused to admit their responsibility, and pushed the case to court, won and forced this to happen are almost certainly going to be ineligible for any of this compensation because all of their award was eaten by the lawyers costs and because they were part of that outcome, they are likely to be deemed to have been compensated already.


Such a prescient movie.

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Makes you wonder how people think autonomous vehicles will ever be safe, when the likes of Fujitsu can’t even write, test and debug a relatively straightforward accountancy program - one of the first tasks ever given to a computer.


I do not for a moment deny what you say.

At the same time, it is probably also worth noting that in the UK the population of sub-postmasters and -postmistresses (that IS what they are still called here and they are the people who were overwhelmingly affected by this scandal) seems to be disproportionately represented by ethnic minorities, especially Asian, with a preponderance of those being of Indian/Pakistani heritage.

(Many of these tend to be small local operations - typically corner shops in villages, small towns and suburbs, with a PO inside - where the owner takes on a sub-post office franchise often to augment their other local custom.)

This PO franchisee demographic would tend to contribute to the effect observed.

I’ve been reading about this scandal in Private Eye for a long time now. Sadly, they do not put all their stories online but did put a special report up in April 2020, that can be downloaded as a PDF. Well worth reading if you want to understand more of the full horror of this series of events that the word scandal hardly does justice to.


In all the stories about this scandal, I think we can spare a moment or two to than k Private Eye for following this story from the beginning, plugging away at this throughout the years when people were being unjustly prosecuted, and keeping the story alive until it gained the momentum it now has. It’s in cases like this that it really shows its value as a vehicle for investigative journalism, stuff that would be spiked by the rest of the press often gets its only hearing there.


Yes, indeed. I sometimes wonder if they are the only proper journalists left in this country. Worth the cost of the subscription several times over. (The report I linked to above being a case in point.)


Not forgetting Computer Weekly who were the first to publish the victim’s stories, i’m glad to see they are name checked in the pdf report. I remember Ian Hislop recently giving them credit on Have I Got News For You as well but The Eye do have the remarkable ability to doggedly chase these stories that can so easily fall down the cracks and never come to light.

ETA: Reading that pdf fully, particularly the case studies, is making me want to break heads. Just awful. :rage:


I suspect that the number of people who enabled this and will go to prison will be zero. I doubt any of them will suffer in any way whatsoever.

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‘Most number of people having their convictions overturned for one particular case’ seems to be the metric here, and by that standard, it is the most widespread miscarriage of justice (in recent times at least).
Most times when a conviction is overturned, it only affects one or two people, in this case it’s fifty nine people (so far). (Not counting the people who are receiving compensation from the Post Office, which is in the hundreds).

At least two of the original witnesses are the subject of a criminal investigation, although that investigation is by the Met.


So exactly what I said then.

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