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Horizon scandal and public inquiry

Many of the current debates about management culture at the Post Office relate to the Horizon affair, how the Post Office responded to it, or the current ongoing inquiry into it.

Problems began when a number of postmasters experienced difficulties with the Horizon Post Office computer system, used for transactions between Post Office Limited and its branch network. Postmasters claimed that there were problems with the IT system and related training and support.

Investigations by the Post Office into postmasters, using information from the Horizon system, led to suspensions, termination of postmasters’ contracts, prosecution and conviction of postmasters, for example for false accounting and fraud.

This has been a long and complicated saga, stretching back over two decades, involving a long campaign for justice, various court cases, compensation schemes and currently a statutory public inquiry.

Questions about Post Office management culture have been raised repeatedly.

The Chief Executive of the Post Office has said that “past shortcomings must never be repeated” and that they “have made significant changes to rebuild trust and forge a new relationship with our current Postmasters, without whom there would be no Post Office.”

Recent issues

Recent issues include:

  • failures by the Post Office to disclose documents to the public inquiry with sufficient notice
  • bonuses being paid to Post Office senior leaders for performance in supplying evidence to the inquiry, based on inaccurate information
  • guidance coming to light that had been used to classify sub-postmasters according to their background, using offensive terms
  • continued questions about compensation schemes.


Various MPs have suggested that management approach of the Post Office needs to change.  

Documents to download

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