The Post Office Horizon IT case reached a new level of public attention with the launch of the ITV Drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’, as well as the announcement of fresh criminal investigations alongside the ongoing public enquiry.

The enquiry, due to conclude this year, is examining the Post Office’s prosecution of over 700 sub-postmasters for theft, false accounting and related charges because of technical faults in the Horizon IT system. These accusations persisted for 16 years – from 1999 to 2015.

BCS fully supports the public enquiry and other investigations, and we have renewed our earlier call for a review of how computer generated evidence is treated by the courts. We have also pledged to take any appropriate action under our Code of Conduct once these cases conclude and report.

Rashik Parmar MBE, Group Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said:

“The Post Office Horizon IT scandal has highlighted the vital importance of independent standards of professionalism and ethics in the application, development and deployment of technology.

“With so many lives devastated, the transparency provided by a public statutory enquiry is essential to justice and to retaining trust in IT as a great force for good.

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“BCS and other professional bodies should look to adopt and support any relevant recommendations once the enquiry and criminal investigations conclude. For us, that will include taking any appropriate action under our stringent Code of Conduct, which holds members accountable for their professional behaviour.”

Dr Sam De Silva, Chair of BCS’ Law Specialist Group and Technology Partner at law firm CMS added: “As the professional body for IT, BCS has long called for a review of how computer generated evidence is treated by the courts. Organisations relying on evidence generated from computer systems to support prosecutions should be required to prove that the underlying computer system is reliable; we hope this will be a clear recommendation from the enquiry.”