Five key moments from Post Office inquiry | EUROtoday

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BBC Gareth Jenkins arriving at the inquiry wearing a white shirt open at the collar and a blue, navy and maroon check blazer and a backpackBBC

The pc knowledgeable who helped construct the defective Horizon software program has lastly spoken underneath oath about his involvement within the Post Office scandal.

Gareth Jenkins is a key determine, having appeared as an knowledgeable witness to defend Horizon in court docket instances, and is now on the centre of an alleged cover-up. His look on the inquiry was long-awaited after being postponed twice.

He gave proof over 4 days – the longest run of questions any witness has confronted – and gave his model of occasions.

Here are 5 key moments from his proof.

1. He thought Horizon bugs had been fastened rapidly

Gareth Jenkins referred to Horizon’s total reliability all through his testimony, even difficult findings from the landmark Bates v Post Office case that recognized points with the IT system. He acknowledged “individual problems” affecting particular branches however asserted that, as a complete, the system was “working well”.

When questioned about bugs, Mr Jenkins admitted missing private information of all recognized points, stating he usually grew to become concerned when drafted in for downside decision.

When pressed on how he might present court docket proof with out full oversight of current issues, Mr Jenkins stated: “Bugs impacting accounts were rare. Monitoring was in place, and fixes were prompt. Therefore, live system problems were rare, making me confident in its operation.”

He claimed no person from the Post Office alerted him to unknown points, and he did not actively search details about bugs he wasn’t concerned in fixing. Mr Jenkins admitted not realising the necessity for complete information when giving proof and “with hindsight would have done things differently”.

2. He was despatched knowledgeable witness guidelines

Mr Jenkins was an “expert witness” in a number of prosecutions introduced by the Post Office. His obligation was to the courts, not the Post Office or his employer Fujitsu. His function meant disclosing any related details about the Horizon software program – even proof that would assist sub-postmasters’ instances.

Lawyers ought to have ensured that Mr Jenkins understood this. When requested about this by Mr Beer, Mr Jenkins acknowledged that he didn’t learn about his duties till the tip of 2020.

But Mr Beer confirmed him a letter from November 2005, written by legal professionals working for the Post Office. The letter talked about that he was an knowledgeable witness and, in keeping with Mr Beer, listed his duties in an “easy-to-understand way”. After initially denying he had obtained it, Mr Jenkins later accepted that it was despatched to him.

He stated he had “no recollection of having been briefed” on his duties and had “clearly forgotten” about having seen the letter.

3. He knew distant entry was attainable

The former “distinguished engineer” confronted intense questioning concerning distant entry – the flexibility of Fujitsu employees to change sub-postmaster department accounts with out their information.

In his 2010 witness assertion for Seema Misra’s trial, he acknowledged: “No external systems can manipulate branch accounts without user awareness and authorisation.”

During the inquiry, Mr Jenkins accepted realizing that distant entry was attainable however believed it occurred sometimes and left a visual path. He based mostly this view on “informal chats” with different Fujitsu IT employees.

The former engineer informed the inquiry that he solely found the extent of unrestricted entry Fujitsu technical employees needed to sub-postmaster accounts in the course of the 2018 High Court battle.

4. He was a ‘keen actor’ for the Post Office

In 2005, Mr Jenkins was requested to supply a draft witness assertion within the case of sub-postmaster Noel Thomas. The Post Office needed his ideas on how the losses might have occurred.

One risk, he stated, was some type of system failure. But the Post Office demanded adjustments, saying the road was doubtlessly “very damaging”. It got deleted.

The inquiry heard he was a “willing actor” on this course of. He stated he was pleased with the adjustments he ended up with because it nonetheless precisely mirrored what had occurred however used “less emotive words”.

The Post Office was applying the pressure, but he never checked with his own Fujitsu lawyers about signing off evidence that had been toned down. Earlier he was asked to explain attempts to “tweak” his statements, however Mr Jenkins believed this was extra of a “tidying up” to make them simpler to learn. He stated he pushed again when the adjustments went too far.

5. He was ‘higher with techniques than individuals’

Four days of forensic questioning meant loads of room for large revelations. It additionally meant Gareth Jenkins had nowhere to cover. It was very revealing concerning the character of the person who has been talked about so many occasions at this inquiry.

An IT specialist who spent his whole profession at one firm, by his personal admission, he dealt “better with systems than people”. He would have been happiest engineering and designing, however discovered himself entangled in one thing very totally different. Something, he argues, he did not totally perceive.

“Can’t you use the report I have already sent you?” Mr Jenkins wrote to a Post Office lawyer in 2012. It is evident he was viewing the rising variety of authorized queries as a complicated frustration, taking him away from the tech entrance line.

It is an annoyance that hasn’t gone away.

At one level, Mr Jenkins informed the inquiry chair he needed this “over with”. Given the continued investigations, that appears unlikely.

Reporting by Lorna Acquah, Nalini Sivathasan, Emma Simpson and Peter Ruddick