RAISING CONCERNS WITH HORIZON
Introduction - The Purpose of this Document
This is a paper which has been issued by the agreement of Post Office Limited and the
Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA).
Post Office Limited is concerned to hear about and determined to thoroughly and even-handedly
investigate cases where there have been persistent assertions that the Horizon system
(Horizon) may be the source of unresolved shortages in Post Offices.
Post Office Limited cares about its agents, the thousands of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses
(SPMRs) operating branches across the land for the benefit of the community. Post Office Limited
is committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, openness, probity and accountability.
It is happy to be sensibly challenged and believes this to be a good thing.
Post Office Limited also acknowledges that there may be a concern that some SPMRs might not
express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be detrimental to their position,
that they may also fear that they will be harassed or victimised if they speak out, and that
in these circumstances they may prefer to ignore their concerns than to report them.
Post Office Limited would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that these fears are
unfounded. Although SPMRs are not employees of Post Office Limited, Post Office Limited takes
seriously any such allegations.
Therefore Post Office Limited, working with JFSA, is setting out in this document a process
where you can raise concerns regarding Horizon, and feel comfortable about doing so. Any
investigation of any concerns which you may raise will not influence or be influenced by any
disciplinary or network transformation actions that already affect you.
This process also applies to all Post Office Limited employees, contractors and agency staff
working with Horizon for Post Office Limited.
In summary this document aims to:
- reassure you that you should have no fears about raising any concerns over Horizon,
including over victimisation and reprisals;
- provide you with a process for raising any such concerns;
- demonstrate to you that your concerns will be taken seriously and that you will get a
response to your concerns; and
- give you options if you are still not satisfied.
However Post Office Limited takes deliberate fraud, dishonesty and illegal conduct against
it very seriously, and has a duty to protect Post Office money and take action if it has
reasonable suspicions regarding the same. So you should only raise your concerns through
this process in good faith, and not frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain.
How to voice your concerns
There are two steps you can take to voice your concerns.
You can either contact JFSA in the first instance (see (A) below), or you can go directly
to Second Sight Support Services Limited (Second Sight), an independent third party(see (B) below).
(A) Initial Steps you can take with JFSA
1. You can discuss any concerns with JFSA and/or its advisers (contact details here).
JFSA undertakes to treat these discussions as confidential. It is then your decision as to
whether or not you wish to pursue your concerns through the Inquiry Route set out in Section B below.
2. If you decide to discuss your concerns with JFSA, you should make sure you gather all your
evidence together including all relevant documents, transaction references, helpline references, copies of correspondence,
contact details and an outline of your concerns and any subsequent discussions with Post Office
Limited. You should retain all original documents at this time although they may be required later.
3. You should provide JFSA with photocopies or PDF copies of all relevant documents, which
will be examined by JFSA and/or JFSA's advisers.
4. At this time JFSA undertakes that it will keep all information strictly confidential and
neither Post Office Limited nor Second Sight will be made aware of any discussions with or
submissions to JFSA. JFSA undertakes not to reveal any details about you, your FAD code or
branch location to Post Office Limited until JFSA agrees with you that your concerns will
be raised as part of the Inquiry.
(B) The Inquiry Route – an Overview
1. The Inquiry will be carried out by Second Sight within a "no blame" framework.
2. If you are a Horizon user (whether as a Post Office Limited employee, contractor or a
former or existing subpostmaster), you can submit your experiences of and concerns with Horizon
for consideration under the Inquiry through JFSA or contact Second Sight directly:
firstname.lastname@example.org by 28th February 2013.
3. Except in a case where deliberate fraud, dishonesty or illegal or unlawful conduct is
suspected, no information voluntarily submitted for the Inquiry in good faith will be used
for any purpose other than the Inquiry. However, Second Sight may pass that information
to Post Office Limited to enable Post Office Limited to respond to any issues or questions
arising out of the Inquiry.
(C) The Inquiry – the Detail
Details of the Remit, Conduct and Output of the Inquiry are set out in the Appendix to this
Taking matters further
If for any reason you are not satisfied with the findings and wish to take matters further,
you are of course free to pursue other avenues which JFSA can help you with.
Equally, if Post Office Limited has good reason to suspect that there may indeed have
been fraud, dishonesty or other illegal or unlawful conduct, it may decide to pursue
such matters in the civil or criminal courts.
The Second Sight Inquiry – the Detail
The Remit of the Inquiry
The remit of the Inquiry will be to consider and to advise on whether there are any
systemic issues and/or concerns with the "Horizon" system, including training and support
processes, giving evidence and reasons for the conclusions reached.
The Inquiry is not asked to investigate or comment on general improvements which might be
made to Horizon, or on any individual concern raised (see below) save to the extent that
it concludes that such investigation or comment is necessary to address the remit.
The Inquiry is not a mediation or arbitration. It is not intended to resolve or affect any
dispute there may be between any individual Horizon user and Post Office Limited.
The Conduct of the Inquiry
1. Submission of concerns
As highlighted, you can raise concerns directly with Second Sight. However, you must do
so by 28th February 2013.
By submitting a concern you will have agreed that it may be taken forward into the Inquiry
process, and that as a consequence Post Office Limited may become aware of the content of
When submitting a concern, you should seek to ensure that you include all of the relevant
facts of your experience of Horizon. You should include a written summary of the concern,
all relevant documents, contact details, transaction references, helpline references,
copies of correspondence, an outline description of the error incident and any subsequent
discussions with Post Office Limited.
Second Sight will decide whether it will investigate an individual concern in detail as part
of the Inquiry, having regard to the remit. Second Sight may consult JFSA in connection
with this decision. The Inquiry will not consider any concern which becomes the subject
of a civil or criminal court case.
2. No Blame Framework
- your concern is submitted in good faith;
- you honestly and reasonably believe at the time of submission that the facts it contains
are substantially true and complete, so far as you know;
- the concern is not submitted with the intention of making personal gain (for the avoidance
of doubt this does not include the SPMR believing or hoping that SPMRs generally may benefit
from the outcome of the Inquiry); and
- the concern does not reveal conduct which is or which is likely to amount to fraud or
any other criminal offence, or which may give rise to a civil claim
and subject to there being no overriding public interest to the contrary, Post Office Limited
will not subject you to any detriment either as a result of having submitted a concern,
or as a result of Post Office Limited becoming aware of any information contained within a
concern. For the avoidance of doubt, information already known to Post Office Limited at
the time that the concern is submitted may continue to be used by Post Office Limited for
3. Establishment and conduct of Inquiry
All information received by Second Sight from whatever source in connection with the Inquiry
will be held confidentially and will only be used for the purposes of the Inquiry.
JFSA can provide Second Sight with anonymised copies of any or all concerns to enable
Second Sight to conduct the Inquiry. Second Sight may provide any such anonymised
documents to Post Office Limited so that it can provide input and assistance to the Inquiry.
Post Office Limited may provide Second Sight with its own comments on any or all concerns,
and on Horizon generally.
In order to carry out the Inquiry, Second Sight will be entitled to request information
related to a concern from Post Office Limited, and if Post Office Limited holds that
information, Post Office Limited will provide it to Second Sight.
Second Sight will determine the process it will follow for the Inquiry using its judgment,
after consultation with Post Office Limited and JFSA.