Post Office – moral turpitude dragging on

A “cruel and incompetent” administration guilty of “institutional obstinacy” is the conclusion about the UK Post Office fiasco which saw hundreds of postmasters mistakenly blamed for losses and bankrupted, sacked or jailed which in reality were due to a faulty Horizon IT system. The judge remarked that the evidence he heard from the Post Office side were akin to ‘flat earth’ assertions.  That was more than three years ago – and not all those wrongly accused have been either exonerated or compensated.

 (From a 2021 post): Calling the fraud convictions of innocent post office subpostmasters a miscarriage of justice hardly covers the years of criminal malfeasance on the part of the overpaid bosses who seemingly knew the fault lay in the accounting computer system installed in 1999. The latest ruling has set aside 39 convictions as unsafe, which had led to prison for some, others lost their homes, were shunned by their communities, and a number died before their names were cleared – lives ruined for fifteen years. The Post Office prosecuted a total of 736 people, many more of whom are now expected to go to the courts to have their own convictions quashed.

The judges said: “Post Office Limited’s failures of investigation and disclosure were so egregious as to make the prosecution of any of the ‘Horizon cases’ an affront to the conscience of the court.” 58 million has already been paid to 550 subpostmasters who won group litigation in 2019 and many more are to come so the total could exceed £300 million in payouts. The Post Office spent £32million to deny any fault before capitulating and since the Government owns 100 per cent of the shares taxpayers will fund the compensation payments.

 2024 – Now a new ITV drama has finally triggered public outrage about the monstrous injustice which has been dragging on for two decades.  Only now does the Metropolitan Police say it is investigating criminality within the Post Office, potential fraud and misconduct in public office. Two of the offending/malfunctioning computer firm Fujitsu’s expert witnesses in the trials are already under investigation for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

  There are calls for the bosses to be penalised, notably Paula Vennells, the former chief executive from 2012 to 2019, who was awarded a CBE in 2019 for services to the Post Office (in 2019??) and received bonuses of more than £2.2 million she received as part of her £4.5 million earnings during her seven-year tenure.

 Though more to the point there needs to be rapid change of the law to allow for compensation in full to be paid to those wrongly accused – 20 years ago!! – which is being dragged out by jobsworth prats in the Post Office, civil service and legal profession

   Vennells born 21 February 1959, is a Boris-on-steroids-whirlwind with a Pisces Sun Mercury opposition Pluto square Jupiter opposition Mars in Gemini. And an impulsive Yod of Saturn sextile Neptune inconjunct Mars.

 Fujitsu, 20 June 1935, Kawasaki, Japan,  is a Sun Gemini with Neptune in Virgo opposition Saturn in Pisces – and two yods onto Saturn in Pisces and Mars in Libra.  The same kind of jitterbug, edgy energy as Vennells.

  Alice Perkins, 24 May 1949, wife of Jack Straw, was chairman between 2011 and 2015 and in a position to demand the situation be properly investigated but didn’t. She has four planets spreads out through Gemini – Sun, Venus, Mercury and Uranus; with an ultra-determined Mars in Taurus square Pluto.

 Moya Greene, 10 June 1954, was CEO from 2010 when 150 postmasters were prosecuted. She was the highest paid UK Civil Servant in 2010, with a basic salary of £498,000 and her total compensation for 2012/13 was reported by the Royal Mail as £3.7 million. She is another Gemini with her Sun in a super-ambitious trine to Neptune and sextile Pluto; with an opportunistic Mars opposition Jupiter tied into Saturn in Scorpio.

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, is also coming in for heavy criticism since he was postal affairs minister between 2010 and 2012 in the coalition government. Born 25 December 1965, he’s a Sun Capricorn with Saturn in Pisces opposition Uranus Pluto in Virgo. He is looking jammed up this year and next with tr Pluto conjunct his Mars and worse in 2026/27.

34 thoughts on “Post Office – moral turpitude dragging on

  1. The Telegraph has just revealed that it was Tony Blair that ordered the Horizon project to continue. He was afraid of the damage it would do to Britain’s trade relations with Japan if we pulled out. Fujitsu was afraid of how it would make them look inept if it was scrapped or they were made to start again. You should read the article and the comments that follow!

  2. Nobody talks about Fujitsu’s designer who is demanding immunity from prosecution before he would testify. Which implies that he deliberately didn’t fix the problem or he was commissioned to create the problem. Presumably for money.

    In 1981 my husband and I discussed the possibility of running a sub post office. Well I discussed it and he refused because some time before somebody had advised him that the government was looking to close all of them.

    And over a few decades that is what they did. They got rid of the bank. They sold off the telephone network which became BT. They separated two main parts of the business. That is Royal Mail and The Post Office.

    And while we can blame the executives, who really behaved like Nazis. All of this was done at the behest of successive governments. So if the government is taking over and giving pardons and recompensing the victims, who is investigating their role in all of this?

  3. Curious to notice that Ed Davey and Fujitsu will be having a Saturn Return at more or less the same time this Spring. Fujitsu, Saturn 10 Pisces opposition Neptune 11 Virgo. Ed Davey Saturn 11 Pisces, square Mercury 12 Sagittarius. Ed D’s Venus at 11 Aquarius opposes Fujitsu’s at 12 Leo, tr Jupiter in Taurus will make that into a t-square at that time too. Possible financial themes there.
    Will Saturn’s return signify a transitional phase? What kind of truths and realities will both Ed Davey and Fujitsu be asked to contemplate I wonder?

    • I wonder if Ed Davey position as leader of the LD may become untenable. With an election coming this year, it’s not good that he has been shown to have been unwilling to meet with the Postmasters/mistresses.

      Someone needs to decide quickly whether they need to make that change of leadership, who the alternatives are etc, etc because to hold a leadership contest and get new policy in place is going to take up 3 months and potentially they don’t have that.

      I think they may be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. That said, Ed Davey has been all but invisible since taking over.

      • He is being challenged by one of the former postmistresses in his constituency so his future is uncertain politically let alone the forensic questioning he will shortly undergo.

      • I agree, GD. He hasn’t been much of a leader, and was a puzzling choice in the first place I think. But Saturn in Pisces looks interesting – Liberal Party 1877 has Sun/MC 10 Gemini, Saturn 19 Pisces. The Lib Dems, 1988, have Sun 16 Pisces, with Pluto in Scorpio square Ed’s Venus. MC (in Book of World Horoscopes) is 13 Virgo. Also, Pisces/Virgo axis is interesting in view of Davey’s very public Anglican faith. Perhaps he will have to make a sacrifice soon!

  4. So far we have heard of Fujitsu’s problems with a new system that inevitably was going to have glitches, particularly at the beginning, however, it has been disclosed that these huge contracts are with organizations in the public sector, a first question arises as to whether there are few providers capable of offering such services, the second is whether Fujitsu offers similar services to the private and commercial sectors and if so what has their experience being with it.

    • @Delia Inquiries are slow and expensive, they do get to give the full picture on the whole, however this case needs to be settled sooner rather later.
      An inquiry would establish the true nature of employment, for instance, does the Post Office have a double tier of Post Offices run directly by the PO and a second tier of smaller POs, mainly in rural and suburban areas run on a franchise type which would explain why the Postmasters are liable for losses whether real or imaginary, my guess is that the Union of Postal Workers represents only those people employed only the PO such as sorting, delivery, vans engineers, admin.
      What beggars belief is that the PO still uses Horizon and that it is making mistakes and the branches are still expected to take the blame, words fail me.

  5. Marjorie, the news has now broken that Paula Vennells is now to hand back her CBE award. Not surprising given the public pressure but perhaps she should have done it sooner of her own volition. However, I do feel that her’s is not the only head that should roll, given the length of time it’s taking for justice to prevail and the number of CEO’s that were involved before her. One thing that really staggered me in the drama was the fact that of the original £50 million group compensation, £38 million was eaten up by legal & court costs. Even if David manages to knock down Goliath there is little benefit afterwards except for lawyers.

  6. The Horizon system emerged from remnants of the Pathway project originally contracted to ICL in 1995 by the Major government. Initially the aim was to deal with benefit payments by the DSS via the Post Office but this element was scrapped in 1999 when the DSS withdrew from the project as it could not meet their requirements. ICL was subsequently taken over by Fujitsu who with the Post Office then proceeded separately to develop Horizon as a system for the POs own internal financial processes. Both Pathway and Horizon were early flagship PFI projects of the type promoted by first the Major and then the Blair governments. One suspects that there would have been quite a lot of political pressure from the government on the Post Office management for these projects to be seen as successes which might explain the initial attempts to gloss over Horizon’s inadequacies. What is less easy to understand is the decision by the Post Office not only to blame subsequent problems with the IT application on the end users of the system in the branch network but then to undertake large numbers of criminal prosecutions particularly in those cases when branch workers and subcontractors questioned the reasons for the shortfalls in money. It is this relentless and reckless doubling down in an attempt to protect the systems reputation that is so difficult to understand as it was laying up future consequences that are now likely to prove worse than simply accepting the system was not fit for purpose. This looks again to be a mixture of political and corporate mendacity, arrogance and cowardice which seems to have been a hallmark of the past two decades.

  7. Also remember when Royal Mail changed its name to Consignia. That was 2001-2002 when Saturn was transiting in Gemini – rebranding to try and give it a new image.

    Okay, RM and PO aren’t quite the same entity anymore but they were. And Adam Crozier who was the Chief Executive of RM then is now CEO of ITV – who aired this TV series!

    • Whole thing is such a tangled web isn’t it? Apart from this year’s significant aspects in Taurus, there’s also the two Jupiter/Saturn squares – justice and law themes there I’d say.

      The first, on 19th August, is 17 Gemini and Pisces, making a t-square with UK 1801’s Mercury in Sagittarius in the Third House of communications. Mercury being communicative anyway, but also god of merchants and thieves. The second square happens on Christmas Eve, at 14 Gemini/Pisces. The third time, in June 2025, is 1 Cancer/Aries, connecting with UK Uranus, 1 Libra. That one looks quite dynamic, being in Cardinal signs, and aspecting the UK Yod too.

      There are several other longstanding cases involving us, the general public, vs the stubborn forces of the establishment in its various self-protective guises. I hope this awful Post Office upheaval shines a very bright light on all of them as well.

  8. In reply to Anna, according to the documentary, the moneys repaid to the Post Office, by desparate Postmasters and Postmistresses who did not owe anything, finally ended up in the Post Office profits!!

    I know one of the postmistresses who was involved, she lost her business, her home and her work. Was reviled in the press, her family were ostracised by the community – despite her pleading truthfully not guilty – in short her life was trashed.

    Perhaps with Pluto anaretic and just about to move into Aqua, along with tr Jupiter conj Uranus in Taurus in April, this will at last bring some results for those unjustly caught up in this mess.

    Thank you Marjorie, for covering this fiasco, just wish all the gross bonuses given to those involved could be clawed back to go towards compensation for those still waiting after all these years for closure.

    I thought the 4 part series was superbly written with very accurate portrayal of events by the actors. Shame it needed a drama to bring this to public attention, which it most certainly has.

    • I listened to the story by accident this morning here in NL but could hardly believe the scale of it! How is it that professional people deliberately chosen to help those beleaguered people blame them instead of protecting all sides, it’s their responsibility entirely…..the fat cats cannot dust their capes off and walk away…….there were heartbreaking accounts from honest people, year on year…..and of course, no apologies!

  9. The biggest and most fundamental question that remains unanswered in light of 5000 error reports per week-per week!- is where has the undereported money gone? Where is it? Where is the money (supposedly fraudulently stolen)people were left destitute for, bankrupted for, sent to their death for? Monies were collected-where is it? Where is the audit trail?

    • From what I’ve read the system was creating double-entries e.g. customer pays-in £100, system records £200 paid in (2 x £100). So there is no missing money.

      Won’t have been happening on every transaction just under certain circumstances hence why it would appear to be fraud rather than a system error which could be difficult to reproduce.

      In my first year of IT work I was given the job of figuring out why, once in a while, a payment wouldn’t get fully recorded in our system. The difference is our management knew it was a problem and invested my time (which ended up being 2-3 days) to investigate. I had to manually match what was going on in the logs to what was happening in the code – line by line.

      • So, wait, I pay £100, but the system records double that, £200.

        But then the sub-postmaster in order to fix the missing £100 pays that £100.

        So in the books everything is zeroes and balanced, but the sub-postmaster is at a loss. Do we know how much money these people invested of their own to cover for the phantom money being created by the system? Where is that? It was just digested by the system, and that’s that?

    • One of the more heartbreaking elements of this story is that some of the accused used their own savings and inheritances, sums as much as tens of thousands to make up the shortfall. They are owed that money back by the PO.

  10. I just checked the Questions & Comments from 1st January 2024, and I think Linda’s comment there was supposed to be here.

  11. The real shame is that while 736 postmasters/mistresses were convicted – there were probably that many people at fault within the Post Office and Fujitsu who will escape any punishment for what they wrought.

    Largescale outsourced projects have almost always failed to deliver for various sections of Government. Having worked in IT, the quality of work from people at outsourced companies was always poor – the focus was on delivering to time and budget – screw quality – something has to give in the Iron Triangle. Companies like Fujitsu upsize/downsize with contractors depending on what work they have on their books – there is no accountability with them.

    I seem to recall in a previous post someone highighted that the Postal Worker’s union leader also failed to do their job. If you have 500+ of your union members accused of something, it should be raising red flags.

    • I doubt that the Postal Workers Union could have done much, after all they would have been fobbed off by the Post Office and no info would have been forthcoming, as for the IT company their contract is with the PO, welcome to outsourcing, it is the little people at the bottom who have no redress. Think Deliveroo, etc. and to think that there are millions who work like that, to be fair it does sometimes improve with time for some companies and workers when they achieve proper employment.

  12. I wondered why there was no trial run of the system – seems like an obvious precaution. It turns out there was one in the north- east in 1996. People were reporting errors in the System then and were disbelieved and prosecuted. Unbelievable.

  13. I note that the post office began to pursue post master/mistresses from 1999 onwards. I wonder if that big August eclipse, of the same year, also triggered events.

    Ed Davey also went on to became a consultant to the law firm that was supporting the post office.

  14. Thanks for this Marjorie. How this has dragged on for so long is unbelievable. Something that might be positive emerges from the year 2000 when Alan Bates first reported problems with the Horizon system. There were 6 shortfall convictions relying on Horizon data in 2000. I don’t have an exact date for this. I looked at a timeline on the UK Parliament website, “Post Office and Horizon Compensation” 17 February 2022.

    However – in May 2000 Saturn in Taurus squared Uranus in Aquarius at 20 degrees. Old money and financial systems versus new technology? Also, Jupiter in Taurus was conjunct Saturn in Taurus at 22 degrees at the end of May. I’m wondering now about the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 21 degrees this April, which does hang around a bit even when not precisely exact that month, and hits 22 degrees. Perhaps the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction this spring signals release of what began twenty four years ago….and in Taurus, release of appropriate compensation too. To say this is all long overdue is a massive understatement!

    • Culturally I see that May 2000 Jupiter-Saturn in Taurus as being very important to where we’ve gone the past twenty years. Everything now seems to revolve around money in a way it didn’t before. “the economy” is the only thing politicians talk about and growing it. Their plans to recruit more police officers/nurses/doctors are only ever about the funding, no actual ideas on how to get people interested. Political support is tried to the whims of donors. The Taurean greed is leading to problems with housing destroying communities and not prioritising people among many things. At least it was the last conjunction in Earth which first occurred at the start of the Industrial Revolution and has led to pollution and climate change.

      I think you’re right about the Uranus in Aqua square being about the IT system. But I could also simply argue that the money (Taurus) invested in the venture won out over the people (Aqua) who would use it.

      • Very interesting point, GD. And I hope the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction this Spring, plus the Uranus/Mars/Algol summer spectacular (!) may serve to shake things up further.

        Of astro interest in this particular case I found that the very first Post Office Act, 29 December 1660 GC had Venus 24 Scorpio conjunct Saturn 20 Scorpio.It has just had a Nodal opposition to its 22 Libra Nodes. Plus is sensitive to transiting Uranus and Jupiter.

        The Post Office Act 25 July, 1969, which brought in the financial services element of the Post Office, has Neptune 26 Scorpio, and Sun 1 Leo about to be opposed by both Mars and Pluto, and slippery money Neptune opposed by the Uranus/Mars/Algol in July. That 1969 Act has Jupiter 1 Libra, conjunct Uranus 0 Libra, so perhaps a ‘lucky’ gung-ho attitude towards exciting new technology? And as a by the way, the first Postmaster General of the United Kingdom was John Stonehouse, who faked his own death a few years later – the resulting massive scandal was the subject of a recent TV drama.

        There is something ‘fated’ going on I feel. Paula Vennells’ Nodes are 13 Libra/Aries, while UK 1801 Nodes are 13 Aries/Libra. First Post Office Act, 1660 had Jupiter at 12 Libra. Fujitsu’s Mars – 12 Libra.

        • I was trying to find a date for the Post Office. Came across a 1987 year for when it separated off as Post Office Counters Ltd which would have been the year Saturn-Uranus were conjunct in late Sag – that could be getting squared by transiting Neptune in Pisces.

          At the Virgo new moon circa 24Aug, there was a 5-planet stellium of the inner planets and these are all taking an opposition from transiting Saturn.

          Of course this is just a reincarnation of the GPO but the 1987 date seems to move along nicely from the 1969 date when Uranus/Pluto were in the late stages of Virgo. So just another square on. And the nodes were in Aries/Libra again along with Jupiter.

          Both Gemini and Virgo being ruled by Mercury the messenger but Sag loves to deliver a good message too.

        • Sorry to correct you, Jane, but Stonehouse was the LAST Postmaster General – the position was abolished by the 1969 Act. However, Stonehouse WAS the first Minister of Posts and Telecommunications – the body that replaced it.

  15. The BBC Sounds podcast on this is well worth listening to. Shocking in every respect. There should have been an independent audit of the software as soon as the errors started regularly appearing. Incompetence writ large and all the more shocking that no one has accepted responsibility in the meantime. Actually the English legal system is heavily weighted against individuals wishing to pursue justice against large institutions with bottomless pockets. Also shocking that people more readily believe that a subpostmaster is stealing and lying rather than that the IT is faulty. It’s been far too long a road for the victims of this institutional bullying. And shocking that it takes a TV documentary to galvanize a government response. Justice at what price?

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