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More evidence emerges that Post Office executive misled High Court judge

Post Office executive Angela van den Bogerd was part of the subterfuge adopted by the company to hide problems with its IT system, which included misleading the courts, the Post Office Horizon scandal public inquiry has been told.

The latest hearing revealed more evidence that Van den Bogerd misled High Court judge Peter Fraser in 2019, during a court battle between subpostmasters and the Post Office.

The 2018/19 High Court battle saw 555 subpostmasters prove the Post Office’s Horizon system was the cause of unexplained accounting discrepancies they were blamed for.

In his judgement in 2019, Fraser said evidence given to him by the former Post Office senior executive was misleading. “There were two specific matters where [Van den Bogerd] did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters, and mislead me,” he said.

Moreover, during the High Court trial’s focus on the ability to access Horizon remotely, Van den Bogerd told the court she first knew about remote Horizon access in 2018, about a year before giving her evidence.

But evidence during the latest inquiry revealed she had been informed of the remote access capability on previous occasions – as early as 2010, as well as in 2011 and 2014. Van den Bogerd said she couldn’t remember receiving an email about Fujitsu’s ability to remotely access subpostmasters accounts in 2010 but said her “conscious knowledge of it” was through an email sent to her in January 2011.

The ability for subpostmasters’ accounts to be accessed and changed remotely, without supostmasters knowing, was something the  Post Office had denied until the 2018/19 court case. Had it been known, hundreds of prosecutions of subpostmasters based on Horizon data evidence would have been called into question.

During the inquiry it was also revealed that the Post Office only checked when remote access was used to make changes for Horizon online, which replaced legacy Horizon in 2010.

Due to the complexity and cost of analysing the 10-year period in which legacy Horizon was used, it was ruled out as “impractical”, but subpostmasters had been raising concerns about Horizon problems from 1999, when the system was rolled out.

The Post Office scandal was first exposed by Computer Weekly in 2009, revealing the stories of seven subpostmasters and the problems they suffered due to accounting software (see timeline of Computer Weekly articles about the scandal below).

• Also read: What you need to know about the Horizon scandal

• Also watch: ITV’s documentary – Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The real story

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