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Post Office boss Paula Vennells ‘informed accounts might be altered in 2013’

Paula Vennells was warned that postmasters’ accounts might be remotely accessed and the numbers altered greater than a decade in the past, it was advised final evening.

The Horizon IT system ruined the lives of tons of of Post Office staff when it mistakenly made it appear to be cash was lacking from their branches. Postmasters had been wrongly blamed for the shortfalls and made to cowl the losses, with tons of convicted and a few put in jail.

A secret recording obtained by Channel 4 News has advised that senior Post Office employees had been conscious that the figures for department accounts might be modified as way back as 2013.

On the tape, the organisation’s chief lawyer Susan Crichton claims Ms Vennells had been briefed a few “covert operations team” at Fujitsu’s Bracknell headquarters that would remotely alter the numbers.

“[Paula] knows about the allegation. She knows we are working on it”, Ms Crichton is heard telling investigators introduced in to look into potential issues with Horizon. “She’s got everything. The way that I’ve tried to brief Paula is, as soon as I have evidence that, you know, that there is a problem, she knows about it the next minute.”

Two years later in 2015, Ms Vennells informed the Commons enterprise committee that there was no proof of miscarriages of justice on the Post Office. And in 2020, in a letter to the committee’s chair to say that she “raised this question repeatedly, both internally and with Fujitsu, and was always given the same answer: that it was not possible for branch records to be altered remotely without the sub-postmaster’s knowledge”.

Ms Vennells introduced earlier this yr that she would hand again her CBE amid public anger over the scandal within the wake of the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

Alan Bates led a bunch of 555 staff who took the Post Office to court docket. The High Court discovered of their favour in 2019 after they efficiently argued that it was potential for Fujitsu, the agency behind the Horizon software program, to entry their accounts with out their information and alter the numbers.

Mr Bates is because of give proof to the Post Office Inquiry when it resumes hearings subsequent week. Ms Vennells and Ms Crichton are each anticipated to seem within the coming weeks.

The Post Office, Ms Vennells and Ms Crichton declined to remark when contacted by Channel 4 News.