An officer of the Post Office revealed that during the Horizon scandal, investigators would receive bonuses for successful prosecutions.
Giving evidence at the Post Office Inquiry, Gary Thomas, who worked for the Post Office from 2000-2012, revealed that investigators received a 40% “loss recovery objective” payment. Another investigator, Dave Posnett, has also confirmed that annual bonuses were partially correlated with the amount of money ‘recovered’.
The inquiry also heard other concerning evidence, including complaints of investigators behaving like ‘Mafia gangsters’, and, in one instance, involving an investigator adamantly persuading a barrister to launch prosecution despite his suspicions of Horizon’s “integrity”, resulting in various pleas of guilty by the accused postmasters.
The Horizon scandal has been described as ‘the worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history’. 705 subpostmasters were convicted on the inaccurate evidence of the Horizon computer system. A landmark court ruling in 2019 found that it was riddled with ‘bugs, errors, and defects’.
Out of 844 prosecutions brought between 2000 and 2015, 705 convictions were secured. In response to the sheer scale of this miscarriage of justice, the government announced on Tuesday that all convicted postmasters would be “swiftly exonerated and compensated”.
In addition to public uproar, this scandal has triggered reflections on the possibility of reforming the system of private prosecution, which acts independently of CPS, and was described by Ken Macdonald KC, the DPP between 2003 and 2008, as ‘system failure’, suggesting that the ministers “should have been much more proactive in interrogating the Post Office”. It is now understood that the government is planning to alter the Post Office’s powers to bring private prosecutions.