Melsonby Post Office

Neil Wilby made this Freedom of Information request to Post Office Limited

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The request was successful.

Dear Post Office Limited,

Please disclose the following information by way of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000.

1. The number of written complaints made by the Sub-Postmistress of Melsonby Police Office, and received by POL, where the terms 'software faults' or 'Horizon' or 'shortfall' formed part of the text of such complaints.

2. Alternatively, the number of telephone complaints, where POL's record of those complaints includes those same terms mentioned in para 1. above.

3. The relevant period is 1st January, 2009 until 22nd March, 2010.

The difficulties in respect of passage of time, and the consequent possibility of data weeding, are recognised. It is hoped that, by keeping the request as compact as possible, this may assist the location of the information or in establishing that none existed.

Whilst FOIA requests are, generally, to be regarded as applicant and motive blind, POL is aware of my journalistic interest in this particular sub-post office and its history. I am, of course, grateful to POL for past assistance and hope that this request can be fulfilled as efficiently and with the same co-operation.

Yours faithfully,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby

Web: neilwilby.com

Information Rights Team, Post Office Limited

Our ref: FOI2021/00222

Dear Mr Wilby,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 23rd
March. Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

The Act requires that a response must be given promptly, and in any event
within 20 working days. We will therefore reply at the latest by 22nd
April.

Please note that due to members of the Information Rights team being
absent due to Covid-19, it is taking longer to process information
requests at this time and regrettably we may be unable to respond to your
request by the due date identified above. We are progressing information
requests as quickly as possible in these circumstances and apologise for
any delay.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Jackie Lawrence

Information Rights Team

Finsbury Dials

20 Finsbury Street

London

EC2Y 9AQ

Dear Information Rights Team,

Thank you for the prompt acknowledgement of this information request.

May I please add this item?

4. A copy of the 'Known Error Log', in issue by Post Office Limited at 31st March, 2010. This document, which recorded faults in Fujitsu's Horizon software, has been referred to repeatedly in proceedings at the Court of Appeal Criminal this week (commencing 22nd March, 2021).

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby

Information Rights Team, Post Office Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilby,

Please find a response attached relating to your Freedom of Information
request.

Regards,

Jackie Lawrence

Information Rights Team

Ground Floor

Finsbury Dials

20 Finsbury Street

London EC2Y 9AQ

Information Rights Team, Post Office Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilby,

I am writing with regards to your request for information, which was
received on 23 March.

We have started to consider your request, however we require further
information before we are able to proceed, please see attached letter for
further details.

As you will appreciate the statutory timescale for our response to your
request will not commence until we are supplied with the further
information which we require. In the event that we do not hear from you we
will assume that you do not wish to proceed with your request.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

David Sinclair

Information Rights Team

Ground Floor

Finsbury Dials

20 Finsbury Street

London EC2Y 9AQ

Dear Information Rights Team,

By way of clarification, "Any/all Known Error Logs dated between 1st March, 2009 and 31st March 2010.

With regard to the time for response to this supplemental request, your interpretation of the Act is misconceived. The clock is paused when a public authority seeks clarification, not stopped and re-wound to the 20 working days limit. The response is, therefore, due by 26th April, 2021 as no working days have been lost.

As a journalist, and an experienced information rights practitioner, a dim view would be taken of what might be regarded by most, if not all, independent observers as a shallow ploy to delay disclosure.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby
Investigative journalist

Twitter: @Neil_Wilby
Web: neilwilby.com

Information Rights Team, Post Office Limited

Dear Mr Wilby,

Following a search for the Known Error Logs (KEL) covering the period
between 1 Mar 2009 and 31 Mar 2010, we have determined that there are
approximately 1200 individual logs that were live during that period. A
sample of these have been reviewed and it is clear that there are likely
to be a substantial number of redactions that need to take place. These
will mainly be for personal data reasons such as the identity of the
individual raising the error but there are also likely to be redactions to
protect Post Office's information security.

Given the large number of logs and the time that will be needed to review
and redact them, we have estimated that it would take Post Office at least
100 hours to complete the work. If we were to continue down this route,
then it is likely that we would consider this to be an unreasonable burden
on Post Office - especially as the Information Rights team has been
seriously affected by the pandemic - and we may need to consider refusing
the request in full. We are keen however to help you access the
information you are interested in and to this end we would like to work
with you to understand if there is a specific period or issue that we
could identify within the logs. This may help to reduce the burden on Post
Office whilst still giving you the information.

We are very happy to communicate via Whatdotheyknow.com but if you would
prefer a detailed conversation, then please do contact us via
[1][Post Office request email]

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

David Sinclair

Information Rights Team

Ground Floor

Finsbury Dials

20 Finsbury Street

London EC2Y 9AQ

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Post Office request email]

Dear Information Rights Team,

Thank you for your recent response from David Sinclair on 18th May, 2021.

I am unable to respond directly to the email address provided because What Do They Know, quite properly, redact such information from public view.

However, I am grateful for the information so far and the effort put into trying to satisfy the disclosure request relating to this specific Known Error Log point.

What I am trying to ascertain, in the public interest, is whether any of the entries on the logs contained either of these search terms: "Garbutt" or "Melsonby". The reason being that Robin Garbutt murdered his sub-postmistress wife, Diana, in March, 2010 and has, very latterly, sought to connect that crime to Horizon software failings.

I readily accept, and, it is suspected, so do you, that we are, probably, well beyond the bounds of a FOIA request. In that regard, I again express my sincere thanks to POL for 'going the extra mile', as it were.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby

Dear Information Rights Team,

Following contact with POL press office, yesterday and this morning, this FOIA is now concluded and the information rights file can be closed.

Once again, many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Wilby

Information Rights Team, Post Office Limited

Dear Mr Wilby,

Thank you for confirming that we can close the request file and I'm sorry
that we were not able to fully help you this time. if there is anything
else that we can do to help with your investigations, please do let us
know.

Regards,

David Sinclair

Information Rights Team

Ground Floor

Finsbury Dials

20 Finsbury Street

London EC2Y 9AQ