Ex-chair was instructed of IT dangers in 2011 | EUROtoday

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Tom Espiner,BBC enterprise reporter

Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry Alice PerkinsPost Office Horizon IT Inquiry

Ms Perkins was instructed Fujitsu had minimize corners on the standard of its software program

Former Post Office chair Alice Perkins was warned about potential faults within the Horizon IT system as early as 2011, an inquiry has heard.

At the time, the Post Office had prosecuted a whole bunch of sub-postmasters for fraud on the power of defective information from Horizon accounting software program.

It would keep on with these circumstances till 2015.

Ms Perkins, who’s giving proof at an inquiry into the scandal, stated on the time she didn’t make a hyperlink between the 2.

She was additionally instructed that the Post Office had “driven a very hard bargain” on the value of Horizon, and in return developer Fujitsu had minimize corners on the standard of the software program.

The inquiry was proven a handwritten be aware from Ms Perkins a few assembly on 27 September 2011 with Angus Grant, an auditor at Ernst & Young (EY).

‘A threat for us’

According to the be aware, Mr Grant had flagged issues about Horizon, describing this system as “a real risk for us”.

He additionally warned that if Horizon was not correct, then EY wouldn’t have the ability to log out Post Office firm accounts.

“Does it capture data accurately?” was a priority raised by Mr Grant, in keeping with Ms Perkins’ be aware.

Lead counsel for the inquiry, Jason Beer, stated the data given by Mr Grant had been “very significant”.

In 2011, some 11,900 Post Offices branches nonetheless used the pc system to course of tens of millions of transactions price billions of kilos per yr, he stated.

“[If it’s] a real risk to the independent professional auditors, then it’s also a real risk to the Post Office too, isn’t it?” Mr Beer stated.

Ms Perkins stated her assembly with Mr Grant was one in all her first as chair, and he or she had interpreted his level “as a point from the perspective of the auditors, and their ability to audit the accounts”.

“I don’t think – wrongly – that I would have made the connection to the operation of Horizon at the branch level,” she stated.

“Doesn’t one follow the other?” Mr Beer replied.

“I don’t remember that that was the connection I made at the time,” Ms Perkins stated.

‘Deeply problematic’

According to Ms Perkins’ be aware, Mr Grant had gone on to debate circumstances of alleged fraud by sub-postmasters on the time, mentioning that “suspects suggest it’s a systems problem”.

But once more, Ms Perkins stated she didn’t make the connection between potential issues with Horizon and what sub-postmasters had been saying of their defence.

Lead Counsel Beer requested Ms Perkins whether or not the be aware was “deeply problematic for you, because you did nothing with the information given to you?”

But Ms Perkins stated that she didn’t settle for that. At the time she was assembly with “a great number of people, who were giving me a lot of information about the Post Office” which she was attempting to make sense of and tackle board.

It “did not ring alarm bells”, she added.

According to the be aware, Mr Grant additionally instructed Ms Perkins that the Post Office had pushed “a very hard bargain” on the value of Horizon, however that Fujitsu “took back on quality/assurance”.

He additionally recommended the Post Office was being “naive”.

Ms Perkins instructed the inquiry it was not unusual for organisations contracting with IT firms “to be at a disadvantage” and that she had issues concerning the relationship with Fujitsu being unequal.