Post Office scandal makes waves again

A TV docudrama about the British Post Office scandal, in which hundreds of Post Office branch managers were wrongly convicted for alleged billing errors, has put this miscarriage of justice back on the agenda. Many of those who were falsely accused due to a software malfunction have had to fight long and hard for justice. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has now announced his intention to reverse the convictions and compensate those affected.

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The Independent (GB) /

Politicians are not judges

For The Independent, Sunak's announcement that he intends to pass a law repealing the convictions poses difficulties:

“We should be clear that this matter is far from closed. Exoneration for the innocent will soon be a reality, but even then it will be imperfect. ... Constitutionally, this law is also deeply troubling. Parliament should not be able to pass a law quashing convictions. It sets a dangerous precedent. ... For obvious reasons, it is contrary to that constitutional principle for politicians to be able to overrule judges. The truth is that we should never have ended up in this situation which now requires such an unsatisfactory solution.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Vital to rebuild citizens' confidence

This issue must be resolved as quickly as possible, The Financial Times insists:

“The case for 'mass exoneration' is compelling. This might mean acquitting a few genuine wrongdoers among those convicted. But such people have already been punished, and this would be a small miscarriage of justice compared with the mass wrong against innocent victims. ... The human suffering caused by the Horizon scandal has dented citizens' belief that the courts and public authorities will protect them from abuse by those in authority. Speeding up action to provide redress is vital to rebuild that confidence.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Blind faith in technology a big mistake

One can only hope that governments and large enterprises will learn from this case, writes The Irish Times:

“The scandal also raises important issues about the unaccountability of Post Office managers who treated loyal staff like criminals, refusing to question Horizon's reliability even as cases began to pile up in preposterous numbers. Fujitsu has yet to answer for its role. And the lack of administrative and political oversight is remarkable. In an era of automation and the advance of AI, there are important lessons here for all governments and big organisations.”