Post Office IT Head Neglected to Address Concerns About False Horizon Statements

A former IT executive at the Post Office admitted to being complicit in misleading the public about software errors, despite her professional opinion stating otherwise. Lesley Sewell, former chief information officer (CIO), revealed during a public inquiry hearing into the Post Office Horizon scandal that she felt ostracized by management and ultimately left the organization in 2015. The Post Office had knowledge of software bugs since 2006 but consistently denied their existence when questioned about the reliability of the Horizon system. Sewell confirmed that she knew about bugs as early as 2011. However, she was unable to explain why the organization’s public stance was that there were no bugs until May 2013, when an independent report revealed their presence. Sewell also expressed her disagreement with the Post Office’s decision to refer to the bugs as “exceptions” or “anomalies” instead of acknowledging them as faults. She believed that management wanted to downplay the seriousness of the bugs through the use of language. Sewell felt disconnected from the organization towards the end of her tenure and became emotional when discussing the difficulties she faced. She blocked communications from the former CEO, Paula Vennells, after feeling uncomfortable with her persistent attempts to contact her. Sewell joined the Post Office in 2010, coming from Northern Rock, where she was the managing director for IT. The Post Office Horizon scandal was first brought to light by Computer Weekly in 2009 and exposed the challenges faced by several subpostmasters due to accounting software issues.

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