By Tony Collins
The head of the High Court’s Technology and Construction Court, Sir Peter Fraser QC, in his judgement on the first Post Office trial over the Horizon IT system, referred to Post Office’s attempts to protect its reputation in some of the evidence it gave to the court.
These are some of the comments from his judgement,
“He [the Post Office witness] sought to give me evidence highly favourable to the Post Office, which I consider was slanted more towards public relations consumption rather than factual accuracy.”
“As with the other more senior members of the Post Office group of witnesses [he] is articulate, intelligent and also acutely aware of how much the reputation of the Post Office hinges on these proceedings. His evidence was presented in terms obviously designed to put the best possible gloss for the Post Office on matters, and some of his statements simply did not stand scrutiny.”
“Her [a senior Post Office witness] judgment also seems to have been uniquely exercised to paint the Post Office in the most favourable light possible, regardless of the facts.”
But is the Post Office instead harming its reputation by seeking to remove the judge which extends the length of the trials and adds to costs? Will this tweet yesterday afternoon from a postmaster prove typical of the reactions of current sub-postmasters?
Financial journalist Paul Lewis who presents BBC Radio 4’s “Moneybox” has described the Horizon IT controversy as a “real scandal“. MPs have described the Post Office’s actions as a “national scandal”.
During the High Court trials, the Post Office has depicted sub-postmasters who are witnesses in the case as liars and has accused a High Court judge of bias. It criticised its own forensic accountants Second Sight who produced a report that, in part, supported some of the sub-postmasters who had complained about losses on the Horizon system being computer-generated and not actual losses.
Is the Post Office’s reputation being further harmed because, as a public institution, it has an in-built resistance to admitting it could ever have been wrong?
postofficetrial – Nick Wllis’ blog