Post Office Paid Cash to Postmasters in 1998 Trial of Horizon Software, Reveals Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond, a postmaster who took part in a 1998 pilot trial of the Horizon software, has revealed that the Post Office made cash payments to participants due to the numerous problems experienced with the system. This disclosure contradicts previous statements from the Post Office, which had blamed sub-postmasters for the issues with the software.

During the trial, postmasters in the South West pilot encountered problems with the system, indicating that there were pre-existing issues even before the national rollout began in 1999. Mr. Hammond described how the Post Office staff attended meetings with participants, promising that the problems would be resolved. However, a sub-postmaster openly voiced her concerns about a system fault and refused to open her Post Office until it was rectified.

To compensate for the mounting issues, the Post Office paid out £250 to Mr. Hammond and all other sub-postmasters involved in the trial. The payment was made in recognition of the problems they faced with the software. Mr. Hammond and his wife, who ran a Post Office branch together, experienced a shortfall of £600 during the pilot. They were initially asked to cover the deficit themselves but eventually, the Post Office acknowledged that it was not their fault.

These revelations are significant as they suggest that Post Office bosses were aware of the problems with the Fujitsu software before they began accusing sub-postmasters of discrepancies. Over 900 sub-postmasters were wrongfully prosecuted due to the bug-ridden system between 1999 and 2015.

The Horizon IT Inquiry, which is investigating these issues, will be hearing evidence from campaigners, postmaster champions, and former Post Office executives. One of the campaigners, Alan Bates, emphasized that the allegations and claims made against the Post Office over the years have been proven right. He remains determined to assist the inquiry in shedding light on the long-standing injustices faced by sub-postmasters.

The evidence provided by Robin Hammond underscores the urgent need for a thorough investigation into the Post Office’s handling of the Horizon software, ensuring that justice is served and affected individuals receive the compensation they deserve.

An FAQ section based on the main topics and information presented in the article:

1. What is the Horizon software?
The Horizon software is a system used by the Post Office in the United Kingdom. It is designed to manage various tasks and operations within Post Office branches.

2. What issues were encountered with the Horizon software?
During a pilot trial in 1998, postmasters experienced numerous problems with the Horizon software. The article does not specify the exact nature of these issues, but it suggests that there were system faults and discrepancies.

3. What did the Post Office previously blame for the problems with the software?
The Post Office had previously blamed sub-postmasters for the issues with the software. However, the disclosure from Robin Hammond, a participant in the 1998 trial, contradicts these earlier statements.

4. How did the Post Office compensate for the issues faced by sub-postmasters?
To compensate for the problems encountered during the trial, the Post Office made cash payments of £250 to Mr. Hammond and all other sub-postmasters involved. The payment was made in recognition of the challenges they faced with the software.

5. How many sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted due to the software issues?
According to the article, over 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 as a result of software issues with Horizon.

6. What is the Horizon IT Inquiry?
The Horizon IT Inquiry is an investigation into the issues surrounding the Post Office’s handling of the Horizon software. It aims to uncover the truth, provide justice, and ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate compensation.

7. Who will be providing evidence to the Horizon IT Inquiry?
The Horizon IT Inquiry will be hearing evidence from campaigners, postmaster champions, and former Post Office executives. The article specifically mentions Alan Bates, one of the campaigners, who stresses the importance of shedding light on the injustices faced by sub-postmasters.

Definitions for any key terms or jargon used within the article:

– Sub-postmaster: A person who manages and operates a smaller branch of the Post Office under the authority of the main Post Office.
– Fujitsu: A technology company that developed the Horizon software for the Post Office.

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