In this episode, Tom Herbert, technology editor at, shares his insights on the British Post Office scandal, which has been ongoing for decades, ruining the lives of many subpostmasters.

Heather and Tom discussed the problems with the Post Office’s Fujitsu Horizon point of sale system implementation, leading to unbalanced reconciliations and accusations of theft against subpostmasters. The Post Office used its prosecution powers and prosecuted 700 subpostmasters between 1989 and 2015, resulting in jail time, financial ruin, relationship breakdown, lost homes, living in cars, and sadly, much, much worse. The scandal is discussed from the perspective of an accountant, the POS implementation, the forensic accountant who aided in uncovering the issues, the suspense account, and the high tax hitting the subpostmasters when they received any compensation.

The story behind this scandal, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, was broadcast on ITV in January 2024. We talk about the importance of storytelling in bringing this story into the narrative of the general public.

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British Post Office scandal and its impact on subpostmasters.

  • The scandal has been widely covered on with over 100 articles and mentions.
  • Tom discusses the miscarriage of justice in a British legal case, which has been ongoing for 20 years and gained attention after a TV drama in January.
  • Subpostmasters are privately owned and financially invested in their post offices, providing vital services to villages.
  • The Fujitsu Horizon point of sale system implemented in the late 1990s had issues reconciling and led to accusations of theft by the post office.
  • A senior developer blamed the system’s flaws on a lack of design documents, test documents, peer reviews, and code reviews, with a full list of bugs never released.

Post Office POS accounting errors and prosecutions.

  • Subpostmasters facing system errors and accountability issues, with little support from the Tech Support Office.
  • The post office prosecuted 700 people between 1989 and 2015, with an average of one person a week, resulting in financial ruin and personal tragedy for many.
  • The post office’s private prosecution laws led to institutional failure and abysmal outcomes for those affected, with the Crown Prosecution Service also bringing cases.
  • Lawyers representing victims call for an investigation into the culture of institutions involved in prosecuting subpostmasters.

Post office misconduct and compensation.

  • In 2012, the Post Office appointed a forensic accounting firm to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, but the contract was cancelled in 2015. The forensic accountant declared there was a lack of cooperation.
  • Despite the cancelled contract, the forensic accountant uncovered evidence of wrongdoing and presented their findings.

Accounting scandal, storytelling and TV drama.

  • The hosts discuss the storytelling aspect of the scandal, including a recent four-part television drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office, broadcast on ITV in January 2024, based on the events.
  • Tom highlights the human aspect of the story, focusing on the impact on innocent people.
  • Heather discusses the power of storytelling in accounting, and effectively communicating information to a mainstream audience.

Post office scandal is ongoing

  • Former Post Office CEO handed back CBE after petition. 
  • The government seeks to pass legislation to overturn convictions of 950 people.


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