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‘Put Post chiefs in dock for this gross injustice’: MPs call for prosecutions over IT scandal

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put post chiefs in dock for this gross injustice mps call for prosecutions over it scandal

Post Office bosses should face criminal prosecutions over an IT scandal branded the ‘biggest miscarriage of justice in our history’, MPs demanded yesterday.

Up to 960 postmasters were wrongfully convicted of fraud, theft and false accounting after cash appeared to vanish from their tills.

But it later emerged that shortfalls in the accounts of local branches were the result of flaws in their Horizon IT system.

Even as evidence emerged that the computer system could be to blame, the Post Office continued to bully postmasters into pleading guilty to crimes bosses knew they had not committed.

Up to 960 Post Office postmasters were wrongfully convicted of fraud, theft and false accounting after cash appeared to vanish from their tills due to a flaw in the company's Horizon IT system. Paula Vennells (pictured), who was in charge from 2012 to 2019 oversaw a failed mediation scheme and sacked a team of independent forensic accountants after they found the ‘phantom’ losses could have been caused by the IT system

Up to 960 Post Office postmasters were wrongfully convicted of fraud, theft and false accounting after cash appeared to vanish from their tills due to a flaw in the company's Horizon IT system. Paula Vennells (pictured), who was in charge from 2012 to 2019 oversaw a failed mediation scheme and sacked a team of independent forensic accountants after they found the ‘phantom’ losses could have been caused by the IT system

At the time Moya Greene (pictured), now a trustee at the Tate, was chief executive of Royal Mail, which controlled the nation’s post offices until 2012

At the time Moya Greene (pictured), now a trustee at the Tate, was chief executive of Royal Mail, which controlled the nation’s post offices until 2012

Up to 960 Post Office postmasters were wrongfully convicted of fraud, theft and false accounting after cash appeared to vanish from their tills due to a flaw in the company’s Horizon IT system. Paula Vennells (left), who was in charge from 2012 to 2019 oversaw a failed mediation scheme and sacked a team of independent forensic accountants after they found the ‘phantom’ losses could have been caused by the IT system. At the time Moya Greene (right), now a trustee at the Tate, was chief executive of Royal Mail, which controlled the nation’s post offices until 2012

Yesterday, in a furious session in the House of Commons, MPs demanded that former Post Office chiefs who oversaw the convictions should face justice.

One said the scandal was as big an injustice ‘as the Guildford Four’, the quartet wrongly convicted of the IRA bombing of two Surrey pubs in October 1974.

Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis said: ‘This is one of the worst disasters in public life since the contaminated blood scandal.

‘If it is proven that Post Office executives were aware of the software faults but allowed innocent people to rot in jail anyway, they could be guilty of criminal negligence and possibly criminal conspiracy and ought to be brought to justice.’

Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis says: ‘This is one of the worst disasters in public life since the contaminated blood scandal

Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis says: ‘This is one of the worst disasters in public life since the contaminated blood scandal

abour MP Karl Turner, a barrister and former shadow attorney general, adds: ‘Postmasters were forced to pay back many thousands of pounds, money which was never in fact owed or indeed missing'

abour MP Karl Turner, a barrister and former shadow attorney general, adds: ‘Postmasters were forced to pay back many thousands of pounds, money which was never in fact owed or indeed missing'

Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis (left) says: ‘This is one of the worst disasters in public life since the contaminated blood scandal’. Labour MP Karl Turner (right), a barrister and former shadow attorney general, adds: ‘Postmasters were forced to pay back many thousands of pounds, money which was never in fact owed or indeed missing’

Labour MP Karl Turner, a barrister and former shadow attorney general, added: ‘Postmasters were forced to pay back many thousands of pounds, money which was never in fact owed or indeed missing.

‘That in itself should trigger a criminal investigation.’

Labour’s science spokesman Chi Onwurah said: ‘The Post Office Horizon scandal may well be the largest miscarriage of justice in our history.’

She added that it consisted of ‘900 prosecutions, each one its own story of dreams crushed, careers ruined, families destroyed, reputations smashed and lives lost, innocent people bankrupted and imprisoned’.

Tory MP Richard Graham said: ‘Nothing should be ruled out, including criminal prosecution if justified.’

Fellow Conservative Bob Blackman added the ‘real criminals must be brought to justice’. Tory MP John Howell told the Commons: ‘This ranks as big a scandal as the Guildford Four.’

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has sent 47 convictions to the Court of Appeal to be overturned and is reviewing 14 more. 

A further 900 prosecutions are being reviewed by an independent law firm. But no one at the Post Office has lost their job over the scandal.

Paula Vennells, who was in charge from 2012 to 2019, walked away with £4.9million in pay and bonuses. 

A Post Office sign. The scandal has been called ‘biggest miscarriage of justice in our history’

A Post Office sign. The scandal has been called ‘biggest miscarriage of justice in our history’

A Post Office sign. The scandal has been called ‘biggest miscarriage of justice in our history’

Mrs Vennells, an ordained priest, oversaw a failed mediation scheme and sacked a team of independent forensic accountants after they found the ‘phantom’ losses could have been caused by the IT system.

But the Post Office continued to recover debts and in 2017 she decided to fight 550 postmasters through the civil courts.

Despite this, Mrs Vennells was awarded a CBE for services to the Post Office and handed the role of chairman of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Post Office prosecutions went ahead despite auditors warning in 2011 that some IT staff had ‘unrestricted access’ to postmasters’ Horizon accounts which could lead to ‘erroneous transactions’.

Post Office bosses knew a computer system glitch could be to blame for missing money but pursued prosecutions against staff anyway, documents have revealed [File photo]

Post Office bosses knew a computer system glitch could be to blame for missing money but pursued prosecutions against staff anyway, documents have revealed [File photo]

Post Office bosses knew a computer system glitch could be to blame for missing money but pursued prosecutions against staff anyway, documents have revealed [File photo]

At the time Moya Greene, now a trustee at the Tate, was chief executive of Royal Mail, which controlled the nation’s post offices until 2012. 

Yesterday MPs called for an independent review promised by the Government to be led by a judge because of the scale of the scandal.

Two other people likely to face serious questions are Alice Perkins, Post Office chairman from 2011 to 2015, and Tim Parker, chairman since 2015.

The Mail has long campaigned on behalf of postmasters and helped 550 win a £58million civil settlement in December.

The Post Office said it ‘welcomes the review announced by the Government and we will fully and positively engage’.

Mrs Vennells was contacted for comment. Miss Greene could not be reached ahead of publication.

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Parents of student,22, who vanished 40-years ago fighting to change death certificate

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parents of student22 who vanished 40 years ago fighting to change death certificate

The elderly parents of a student who vanished nearly 40 years ago say they are ‘living’ to change her death certificate to state that she was murdered. 

Art student Jessie Earl was just 22 when she disappeared from her university home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in May 1980. 

Nine years later, Jessie’s incomplete skeleton was found in dense scrubland above Beachy Head. Her personal belongings and clothing had been removed – and she was left only with her bra, which had been used to tie up her wrists. 

After her remains were found in 1989, an inquest recorded an open verdict and her parents Valerie, 88, and John, 92, have been fighting to have her her death reclassified ever since.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Val explained they ‘knew’ it was murder as soon as they saw Jessie’s remains, and that their only wish in life is to change the ruling of their her death.  

Art student Jessie Earl (picture) was just 22 when she disappeared from her university home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in May 1980

Art student Jessie Earl (picture) was just 22 when she disappeared from her university home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in May 1980

Art student Jessie Earl (picture) was just 22 when she disappeared from her university home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in May 1980

After her remains were found in 1989, an inquest recorded an open verdict and her parents Valerie, 88, and John, 92, (pictured) have been fighting to have her her death reclassified

After her remains were found in 1989, an inquest recorded an open verdict and her parents Valerie, 88, and John, 92, (pictured) have been fighting to have her her death reclassified

After her remains were found in 1989, an inquest recorded an open verdict and her parents Valerie, 88, and John, 92, (pictured) have been fighting to have her her death reclassified

‘From the moment I saw the death certificate I thought this is not fair to our daughter, said John, ‘I thought we must get it altered — and that is what we have been living for since’.

Jessie was a student at Eastbourne College of Art and Design, and had been spotted coming home from the doctors by an elderly neighbour the afternoon before she went missing. 

After two weeks the police classified Jessie as a missing person, and her parents would spend every moment they had spare searching for their daughter, distributing flyers and contacting various charities. 

Val told the publication how at one point in the search she stood waiting near the A2, after a psychic said her daughter would be travelling on the road in a blue car. 

Jessie was a student at Eastbourne College of Art and Design, and had been spotted coming home from the doctors by an elderly neighbour the afternoon before she went missing in 1980

Jessie was a student at Eastbourne College of Art and Design, and had been spotted coming home from the doctors by an elderly neighbour the afternoon before she went missing in 1980

Jessie was a student at Eastbourne College of Art and Design, and had been spotted coming home from the doctors by an elderly neighbour the afternoon before she went missing in 1980

After the call to tell them that Jessie’s remains had been found, John and Val knew her death was suspicious, with the ring and watch she wore daily missing from her naked body.   

‘As soon as we saw the bra we knew it was murder’, Val said. 

The family, along with police officer-turned-investigator Mark William-Thomas, have speculated that Jessie could have been a victim of serial killer Peter Tobin. 

John, who now lives in Eltham, south east London, said in January he and his wife aren’t interested in revenge, instead they want to see their daughter’s death recorded as a murder ‘before it is too late.’

‘We are not interested in revenge’,  said John, ‘We just want final justice for our daughter. The important thing is for this to happen in our lifetime. We always hoped we hadn’t seen the last of this.

John, who now lives in Eltham, south east London, said in January he and his wife aren't interested in revenge, instead they want to see their daughter's death recorded as a murder 'before it is too late'

John, who now lives in Eltham, south east London, said in January he and his wife aren't interested in revenge, instead they want to see their daughter's death recorded as a murder 'before it is too late'

John, who now lives in Eltham, south east London, said in January he and his wife aren’t interested in revenge, instead they want to see their daughter’s death recorded as a murder ‘before it is too late’

‘The first 11 years after she disappeared were the worst. They were hard, because we had no idea what had happened to her.

‘We always knew were looking at something suspicious, but the uncertainty is very painful. When she was discovered we were relieved.

‘But this last part has been very painful to get over. We want justice and to have the right verdict.

‘You get over the crying in and things like that in 40 years, now were just want justice – but in our lifetime. We will get the right result.’ 

Following criticism of its handling, Sussex Police reopened the case in 2001 and formally recorded Jessie’s death as murder. A fresh file was sent to the Coroner but no new inquest was organised.

Jessie's parents have previously speculated that their daughter was a victim of convicted serial killer Tobin, who was living in the area at the time

Jessie's parents have previously speculated that their daughter was a victim of convicted serial killer Tobin, who was living in the area at the time

Jessie’s parents have previously speculated that their daughter was a victim of convicted serial killer Tobin, who was living in the area at the time

Earlier this year, the family launched a crowdfunder to get the verdict quashed off the back of Jessie’s death being featured in the second season of the Netflix series ‘The Investigator’.  

Jessie’s parents have previously speculated that their daughter was a victim of convicted serial killer Tobin, who was living in the area at the time.

He is serving life sentences for murdering Polish student Angelika Kluk, Scots schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton and Essex teenager Dinah McNicol.

But Sussex Police have previously ruled Tobin out, telling the BBC last year: ‘We have no evidence implicating Peter Tobin or any other named or known individual in the murder of Jessie Earl’. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Employers increasing levels of surveillance in an attempt to recreate office at home

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employers increasing levels of surveillance in an attempt to recreate office at home

As the coronavirus crisis continues, office workers have been advised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep working from home where they can. 

However, this may not mean escaping the office environment entirely, with some employers reportedly using increasing surveillance to try and keep tabs on workers they’re miles away from. 

According to the Observer, several employers have been using online tools to recreate the normal workplace – while others have requested digital methods of monitoring their workers from tech companies. 

Shirking or working? Employers seem increasingly unsure...digital health researcher Dr Claudia Pagliari says managers have 'ramped up' tracking their employees

Shirking or working? Employers seem increasingly unsure...digital health researcher Dr Claudia Pagliari says managers have 'ramped up' tracking their employees

Shirking or working? Employers seem increasingly unsure…digital health researcher Dr Claudia Pagliari says managers have ‘ramped up’ tracking their employees

Dr Claudia Pagliari, a researcher into digital health and society at the University of Edinburgh, told that bosses have ‘ramped up’ their attempts to track their employee’s time, in the same way they might in the real world. 

‘It has really ramped up’, she said, ‘People are home working, and many organisations are beginning to want to track what they’re doing.’

She revealed that employers are keeping track of workers’ time through tools such as Slack and Microsoft Team, which report when an employee is active. 

The publication also spoke with David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, a company providing a platform for remote employees. 

WHAT IS API?  

Application Programming Interface (API) is a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other. 

When using an app on a mobile phone, the application connects to the Internet and sends data to another server. 

The server retrieves that data, performs the required actions and sends it back to the phone. 

The application then interprets that data and gives the user the information you wanted in a readable way.

APIs can also be used to control access to devices that an application may not have permission to use. 

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He claimed that he’s turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees: ‘We went so far as to say that our API cannot be used for any form of employee surveillance.’   

This news comes after the dramatic reversal of the Government’s recent drive to get people back to workplaces earlier this month.

The new Covid-19 measures implemented last week includes advising all office workers to work from home where they can as soon as possible. 

The official guidance for England now states: ‘Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’ 

David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, claims that he's turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees

David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, claims that he's turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees

David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of start-up Basecamp, claims that he’s turned down requests from companies who wish to spy on their employees

According to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove: ‘We are stressing that if it is safe to work in your workplace, if you are in a Covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it. But, if you can work from home you should.’

But this may not be bad news to all, with a July survey revealing one in three office workers want to continue working from home after the coronavirus threat is over. 

The study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that 32 per cent of people are expecting to at least partially work from home even after the lockdown has ended. 

The research further indicated that between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of employees will be working from home on any one day in 2021. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Crying toddler found wandering the streets of Hull alone – as passer-by spots him and calls police

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crying toddler found wandering the streets of hull alone as passer by spots him and calls police

A sobbing toddler, thought to be about two years old, was found wandering alone in the streets of Hull.

The little boy was spotted looking lost and confused by two passers-by on a road in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon.

The men phoned the police who were filmed arriving on the scene in a Facebook video that has been viewed almost 20,000 times.  

Passers-by called the police when they found a little boy all alone looking lost and confused on a road in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon

Passers-by called the police when they found a little boy all alone looking lost and confused on a road in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon

Passers-by called the police when they found a little boy all alone looking lost and confused on a road in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon

Footage shows the missing boy, who is wearing a red coat and green shorts, waiting with two men and a child as the police arrive.

The men explain the situation while the little boy stands beside the adults with a terrified look on his face. 

One policeman tries to talk to the boy, saying: ‘Hello love. You alright? It’s okay, talk to us.’ 

The other policeman bends down to the boy’s height and reaches for his hand, coaxing him to come to him, saying: ‘We’ll find mummy, come on.’ 

Video footage shows the police arriving on the scene as one policeman tries to talk to the boy, bending down to his level saying: 'We'll find mummy, come on'

Video footage shows the police arriving on the scene as one policeman tries to talk to the boy, bending down to his level saying: 'We'll find mummy, come on'

Video footage shows the police arriving on the scene as one policeman tries to talk to the boy, bending down to his level saying: ‘We’ll find mummy, come on’

The terrified boy continues to sob as he is held in the policeman's arms as the men try to figure out his name and where he lives

The terrified boy continues to sob as he is held in the policeman's arms as the men try to figure out his name and where he lives

The terrified boy continues to sob as he is held in the policeman’s arms as the men try to figure out his name and where he lives

He picks the toddler up in his arms as the little boys begins to sob.

‘Where’s your house?’ he asks him. ‘Where’s mummy?’, but the boy just continues to cry.

The four men discuss the situation, with the policemen wondering why they can’t see any distressed parents out looking for him.

When the boy calms down they ask him again where he lives and his name but he only shakes his head. 

Eventually, the two police officers take the boy to their police van and it has been confirmed that the little boy has been safely reunited with his family

Eventually, the two police officers take the boy to their police van and it has been confirmed that the little boy has been safely reunited with his family

Eventually, the two police officers take the boy to their police van and it has been confirmed that the little boy has been safely reunited with his family

Eventually, the two police officers take the boy to their police van promising the boy some chocolate and thanking the kind strangers for looking after him. 

Humberside Police confirmed to The Sun that the boy has now been safely returned to his family.

It is unclear how the toddler ended up wandering the street by himself.

People commenting on the video expressed their relief that the boy had been found by the right people with one person writing: ‘Thank goodness you helped him it could have been so much worse.’

Another wrote: ‘Ah bless him. His parents will be frantic. Glad it was someone nice who spotted him before he was in any danger. Hope he’s home and safe.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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