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Calls for police investigation over recordings of Post Office executives

A senior MP has called for police to investigate a series of covert recordings from 2013 which include Post Office executives discussing the Horizon IT scandal.

Liam Byrne, chairman of the Commons Business and Trade Committee, said the recordings were “the first evidence that people knew there was a problem”.

The recordings, obtained and aired by Channel 4 News on Wednesday, contained conversations between Post Office executives and two forensic accountants on May 22 2013.

These conversations – which included Post Office company secretary Alwen Lyons and Post Office chief lawyer Susan Crichton – suggest they knew there was an issue with the company’s Fujitsu IT system two years before the last subpostmasters were jailed, in 2015.

In an initial conversation, accountants Ian Henderson and Ron Warmington raised their concerns about adjustments made in the Fujitsu IT system to Post Office IT specialist Simon Baker, and there being no controls on it.

They then questioned whether the subpostmasters knew about the adjustments, and Mr Henderson said: “Based on the email traffic that I’ve seen, there’s nothing to indicate that he or she was informed.”

Mr Baker later said: “I told them (Ms Lyons and Ms Crichton) that I’ve just found out from Fujitsu that there is a mechanism and their faces dropped.”

Another recording contains a meeting between the accountants, Ms Lyons and Ms Crichton later that day, in which Mr Henderson said “someone needs to brief Paula (Vennells, then Post Office chief executive)” about the issue.

Mr Henderson and Mr Warmington were subsequently sacked by the Post Office.

Giving his reaction to Channel 4 News, Mr Byrne said: “Pure rage, pure rage. Here you’ve got people in the Post Office – you’ve got the first evidence here from 2013 that people knew there was a problem.

“The point is not just that they mislead Parliament, they were sending people to prison as late as 2015, two years after these recordings are being made.”

Mr Byrne also posted on X, formerly Twitter: “We must now ask whether police have enough evidence to bring those who jailed the innocent to justice”.

Hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly convicted of stealing after the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

The Post Office also forced at least 4,000 branch managers to pay back cash based on the flawed data.

Some victims were sent to prison or financially ruined, others were shunned by their communities, while some took their own lives.

An inquiry into the Post Office and the Horizon IT scandal will continue next month.

The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.