Post Office scandal piles pressure on all main political parties

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On Monday, the House of Commons was treated to the sight of MPs from all the political parties united in an orchestrated show of outrage that over 700 completely innocent Post Office managers and sub-postmasters had been hounded, in some cases to death, by the Post Office in the Horizon IT scandal.

Everyone now knows, thanks to the ITV docudrama ‘Mr Bates vs the post Office’ broadcast last week, that Post Office managers were warned from the start of faults in the accounting software system.

Faults in the Horizon IT system led to the prosecution by the Post Office of over 700 Post Office operatives between 1999 and 2015 for theft, fraud and false accounting.

One of the principal tactics used by Post Office ‘investigators’ was to lie outright during interviews with the accused telling them they were the only ones whose money had mysteriously gone missing.

Reduced to the status of lone individuals up against a wealthy and powerful company it is not surprising that some pleaded guilty, even taking on massive personal debts to repay these non-existent losses, while others went to court and were fined or jailed.

The ITV drama brought the entire scandal into the public consciousness and has had a devastating effect, not just on the Post Office but on all the main political parties who are under increasing pressure to answer questions about their role in the cover up.

Ed Davey, currently leader of the Liberal Democrats, refused to meet sub-postmaster Alan Bates, in 2010 after Bates had attempted to raise concerns over the Horizon IT system.

At the time, Davey was postal affairs minister in the Tory/LibDem coalition government. He refused the meeting saying: ‘I do not believe a meeting would serve any useful purpose.’

Davey has now apologised claiming he was ‘deeply misled’ by Post Office bosses.

Labour leader Keir Starmer is also under increasing pressure over his role, as he was Director of Public Prosecutions at the time when the prosecutions started to unravel.

Starmer now says that the Post Office shouldn’t be allowed to pursue private prosecutions, begging the question why didn’t he intervene when it became clear that gross miscarriages of justice were taking place under his watch?

As for the Tories, they were in power almost from the start of the judicial hounding, and for over a decade have overlooked reports of problems at the Post Office and bugs in the IT system.

Instead, they left it up to the courts to deal with appeals and compensation claims – a lengthy drawn out process that the Post Office lawyers have relied on to delay and deter claimants.

So confident were the Post Office bosses that extended delays in the creaking judicial system would be to their advantage, that they recently revealed they had halved the amount set aside for compensation to wrongly convicted branch operatives.

Fujitsu, the company that built and runs the Horizon system, still operates it in the Post Office, and has been awarded government contracts despite accusations that it had been made aware that Horizon contained bugs that made it open to being remotely accessed – something it has always denied.

Post Office chief executives, who presided over the biggest miscarriage of justice in history and sought to bury the scandal under a mountain of lies and lawyers, have naturally all moved on to lucrative high-paid jobs leaving over 700 shattered lives in their wake.

What has caused the panic amongst the Tories is the realisation that the working class has had enough of this government and a capitalist system that grinds workers into the ground to protect profits and massive bonuses.

The working class is not a collection of helpless individuals but the most powerful force in the country – a force that is increasingly exercising its collective strength against an entitled capitalist class that treats them like dirt.

Now the time has come for workers to demand that the TUC exercise this strength by calling a general strike to bring down this Tory government and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.

Justice for the victims of the Horizon scandal and justice for all victims of the bosses and bankers can only be achieved through putting an end to capitalism and going forward to socialism.