Post Office Admits Bugs Amidst Software Row

The Post Office has admitted flaws are sitting on an accounting system that has been at the centre of a bitter row between the institution and subpostmasters.

The Horizon system, which records transactions across Post Office branches, is thought to be operating correctly, but a variety of bugs have been uncovered by Second Sight, which was asked to carry out the report.

Second Sight said more thorough investigation was required to see how much of an impact glitches in the software, produced by Fujitsu, have had. Fujitsu provides much of the Post Office’s IT.

Post Office: Horizon works OK

A group of subpostmasters, led by the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), have blamed the software for wrongly charging people of accounting shortfalls.

Some have had to repay money thought to have been illegally taken, others have been jailed for discrepancies, but the Post Office remains convinced the Horizon software is working well enough.

James Arbuthnot, MP for North East Hampshire, has been calling for an inquiry into the matter too.

“The review underlines our cause for confidence in the overall system,” said Post Office chief executive, Paula Vennells.

“It does, however, raise questions about the training and support we have offered to some sub-postmasters and we are determined to address these issues.

“We will make further improvements in this area and take better account of individual requirements and circumstances going forward.”

The Post Office said it would set up a working group to consider all cases brought forward by the JFSA and MPs.

A Branch User Forum has also been set up to let subpostmasters and others raise issues around the use of the software.

“We hope the action we are already taking and these additional proposals to work collaboratively with the JFSA and subpostmasters demonstrate our commitment to improving the way we support all those who work in our unrivalled branch network,” Vennells added.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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