Britain’s most senior police officer Sir Mark Rowley says detectives will have to trawl through tens of millions of documents
A national investigation into potential criminal offences linked to the Post Office scandal will take at least until 2026, Britain’s most senior police officer has said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley says an exhaustive investigation will have to take place to determine whether crimes have been committed.
Detectives will have to trawl through tens of millions of documents, and the investigation will follow the public inquiry into the issue that is due to publish its findings late next year.
Hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly convicted of stealing after the defective Horizon accounting system, developed by Fujitsu’s ICL business, 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.
Sir Mark said: “We’re now working with police forces across the country to pull together what will have to be a national investigation, which we’ll pull together because there’s hundreds of postmasters and mistresses from across the country.
“Fujitsu are based in one part of the country and the Post Office is another part of the country, (it’s a) massive piece of work to do.
“There are tens of millions of documents to be worked through in a criminal investigation.
“And of course, we’ve got to do that following on behind the public inquiry, which I think finishes at the end of this year but won’t publish until late next year.”
Proving criminal intent, if it existed, will need a detailed investigation that “won’t be quick”, he said.
“At the core of the issue you’ve potentially got fraud in terms of false documents if it’s for financial purposes, and you’ve potentially got perverting the course of justice if people have deliberately set in train evidence into a legal process, which they know is false. That would be perverting the course of justice.
“To prove this to a criminal standard is different to what’s in a documentary.
“Clearly, we have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt, really 99.99%, that individuals knowingly corrupted something, so that’s going way beyond incompetence, you have to prove deliberate malice, and and that has to be done very thoroughly with an exhaustive investigation. So it won’t be quick.
“But the police service across the country is alive to this and we will do everything we can to bring people to justice if criminal offences can be proven.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub