Gareth Jenkins: the misplaced confidence of an unreliable god

Gareth Jenkins pictured near his home in Bracknell this January (copyright Alamy)

We know that Gareth Jenkins, Fujtisu’s “unreliable god” (in the words of Anthony de Garr Robinson) does not have a PhD – despite being erroneously described as Dr Jenkins in the first Clarke Advice and a number of Post Office documents. He does, however, have a maths degree from Cambridge. We found out today he was not and never has been a Chief Architect of Horizon, nor has he ever been Fujitsu’s Lead Engineer on Horizon. In terms of his career, Jenkins joined ICL (which later became part of Fujitsu) on graduating in 1973 and in the 1990s was recognised as a Distinguished Engineer, an honorific title bestowed on him by Fujitsu. Tuesday saw Distinguished Engineer Jenkins’ first of four days of evidence at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, where he was questioned by the recently anointed Barrister of the Year, Jason Beer KC.

Beer asked him about his cv and wanted to know if Jenkins required any “further training or qualification or a particular professional experience that was required” before he could become a Distinguished Engineer? “Not as such, no”, replied Jenkins, who also seemed quite proud of having “resisted” any level of management responsibility throughout his career.

Jenkins vs Fraser

Gareth Jenkins was the first person since Lord Neuberger in 2019 to take direct issue with one of the judgments in Bates v Post Office. Neuberger didn’t like the Common Issues judgment. Jenkins didn’t like the Horizon Issues judgment. In his fourth witness statement Jenkins attempted to rebut the real and possible implied criticism made of him by Mr Justice Fraser. He prefaced this by saying “I have read the Horizon Issues Judgment of Mr Justice Fraser together with its Technical Appendix. I have reflected on the Judge’s findings and criticisms.”

Jason Beer KC

Today he told Jason Beer “I skimmed through it at the time and I’ve looked at various sections of it, I don’t claim to have read it every word I’m afraid.”

This suggests Jenkins might not have written his witness statement, nor (like the Horizon Issues judgment) actually read it.

Beer asked him if he accepted Fraser’s conclusion that Legacy Horizon (the 1999 – 2010 version) was “not remotely robust”.
“I don’t accept that finding”, Jenkins replied.
“Do you accept that Horizon Online (the 2010 to 2017 version) was susceptible to accounting flaws?”
“There were some discrete bugs which caused problems to the accounts”, said Jenkins, “but they were all very well managed”. He felt Horizon Online did “a good job in terms of the accounting, particularly with the monitoring that was going on, in terms of being able to detect things when they had occurred.”

Beer wanted to know if Jenkins accepted that bugs, errors and defects caused discrepancies in Subpostmaster branch accounts. Jenkins replied: “They could cause discrepancies in branch accounts, but not at the sort of levels that are being talked about. In general, the systems, I believe, were operating as they should.”
“Robustly?” wondered Beer, possibly sarcastically.
“I think robust meant that there were mechanisms in place that would monitor what was going on, detect problems, and that they were then investigated and resolved correctly.”
“Horizon, both legacy and online, was working well in your view?” asked Beer.
“Most of the time”, replied Jenkins, adding “I’m not sure that I, even today, I understand what bugs actually did cause the problems that people have suffered from.”

It’s hard to know if this positioning by Jenkins is something he actually believes, or whether he has developed it as a defence strategy with his legal team to be deployed in a possible future criminal trial.

Someone’s lying

Jenkins claimed that Warwick Tatford, the Post Office barrister reviewing Jenkins’ witness statement during the prosecution of Seema Misra “wanted me to say that it looked as though Mrs Misra had stolen money rather than that it was incompetence.”

Beer wondered if Jenkins had seen Tatford’s evidence.
“I was actually here for that particular day”, sniggered Jenkins, perhaps pleased no one had recognised him.
Beer read out part of Tatford’s witness statement:

Warwick Tatford giving evidence on 15 Nov 2023

“I made it very clear to Mr Jenkins that he was under a duty to provide frank disclosure of Horizon problems to the defence expert in that case.”
“I have no recollection of such a discussion”, replied Jenkins.
“So his evidence here is in error, is it?” asked Beer.
“I can’t say categorically”, replied Jenkins. “That is not my understanding of what occurred at the time and I think I would have behaved differently if I had been briefed in the way that he suggests that he briefed me.”

Beer took him to Tatford’s oral evidence transcript, during which he explicitly stated he told Jenkins about his responsibility as an expert witness during the Misra trial, including the duty to “disclose anything that might undermine his position”.
Beer asked: “Did Mr Tatford make clear to you the duties that he spoke about?”
Jenkins replied: “I don’t believe he did.”

Far from being an unbiased, independent expert witness, Jenkins told Beer “I was an employee of Fujitsu and therefore was effectively part of the Post Office prosecution team.”
“Did you think you were part of the Post Office prosecution team?” replied a surprised Beer.
“Yeah, I think I probably did,” considered Jenkins “because that’s how the Post Office lawyers were treating me.”

The Whole Truth

Seema Misra’s trial took place in October 2010. Her defence team instructed an independent IT expert called Charles McLachlan. In his report, McLachlan sets out his qualifications and experience, the caveat that his report “shouldn’t be read as expressing any opinion on factual matters… or legal issues”. He also lists the documents he had been given, what he had been asked to do, and what he had not been asked to do. McLachlan also states his “overriding duty to the court”.

Jenkins, despite being the Post Office’s supposed independent expert, produced no such equivalent report, instead using a bog standard witness statement to comment on McLachlan’s findings.

Seema Misra with barrister Paul Marshall at the Inquiry on Monday (copyright Eleanor Shaikh)

Beer wanted to know why, at the very least, Jenkins made no mention in any of his witness statements in the Misra trial about any bugs, errors or defects within the Horizon system.

“I didn’t think I needed to do that”, Jenkins replied, “because all I thought I needed to worry about was in that particular branch at the time in question.”
“Did you consider reflecting in your witness statements or making qualifications in your witness statements to set out exactly what you had been asked to do and not asked to do and make clear that you had not been asked about other issues?” asked Beer.
“It didn’t occur to me I’m afraid.”
“Looking back now do you think that a reader of your witness statements could reasonably gain the view that you were setting out all that you knew about bugs errors and defects in Horizon?”
“I don’t think I was ever asked to consider bugs errors and defects, all I was asked to do was comment on the reports produced by Professor McLachlan.”

Beer pushed him on this.

JB: You would know that witnesses, when they come to give evidence, are asked to tell the truth and the whole truth.
GJ: Yes.
JB: Did you think you were only required to tell the truth in your witness statements?
GJ: I was, I was talking about those aspects that were related to the Horizon system and I believe I did tell the truth and the whole truth as far as the Horizon system was operating in the specific branches at the specific times that I looked at data.
JB: But you didn’t feel under any compunction to volunteer information about other faults or system defects about which you had not been asked?
GJ: I didn’t think that they were relevant in those particular cases.
JB: Just expand on that, you’re saying that you took a conscious decision not to mention them because of your own assessment of relevance?
GJ: Not a conscious decision, as far as I was concerned the system was behaving correctly in the branch at the time and I’d seen nothing to show that it wasn’t and therefore other issues that I may have been aware of were ones that had been that had gone on in the past or in the future and had been fixed and did not apply to the branch at the time that I was considering.
JB: Are you saying that in every case in which you provided a witness statement you had undertaken or caused to be undertaken a detailed examination of the data relating to that branch?
GJ: I’d undertaken an analysis of the data, not necessarily a completely thorough analysis of it, but I thought what I felt at the time it was sufficient to show that things were working okay at that time. 

The Mask Slips

Jenkins’ attitude towards the Subpostmasters he was involved in prosecuting wasn’t that different to the people he was working with at the Post Office. During some early correspondence with the Post Office investigation team about Lee Castleton’s case, Jenkins tells Post Office investigator Brian Pinder he can’t comment on specifics without “a detailed analysis of everything that’s gone on in the branch.” Nonetheless, Jenkins confidently asserts, “the most likely explanation it’s a misoperation or fraud.”

“Why was it certainly the case that the most likely explanation was misoperation… or fraud?” asked Beer.
“I’m not sure why I would have said that at the time”, replied Jenkins. “Looking back now then I think that’s just one of many different options but I accept that those are the words I used at the time.”
“Why did you use them?” asked Beer.
“I don’t know”, Jenkins replied.

Pulling back the curtain

This Distinguished Engineer, this technical wizard, this “god” did not seem able to accept how badly he, Fujitsu and the Post Office had messed things up. And yet when Beer drilled down into how Jenkins reached his supremely confident views, the curtain was pulled back a little.

Firstly Beer established that Jenkins had no oversight of all the bugs in Horizon. No one at Fujitsu did. Jenkins was only aware of the few which were brought to his attention. Nonetheless, he told Beer:

“I was aware of was the fact that bugs that actually impacted the accounts were very rare. There was good monitoring in place to detect them and they got fixed shortly afterwards so in terms of what was actually there in the live system at any one time it was very rare for there to be bugs there that would cause problems and therefore I was confident in the way that the system was operating”

Beer asked him if this confidence was going to be expressed to a court “wouldn’t you want to know of the existence of each of the bugs and how they’ve been resolved and whether in fact there was any ongoing impact?”

“I didn’t realise at the time that I needed to do that, so at the time no”, replied Jenkins. “Obviously with hindsight I realised that maybe I should have been doing more research, but at the time I felt that that was sufficient.”
“And the ‘that‘ in that sentence meaning a general confidence in the system and the way that it operated?”
“Yes, and the processes that are in place to actually control things.”
“So general confidence in the system plus processes that you thought were working allowed you confidently to give a generalised view, is that right?”
“I think so, yes.”

Jenkins wore his superiority complex lightly. He remained fixed in his views that the Horizon system worked well enough to allow him to produce witness statements which were used in the prosecution of innocent people. Although he hasn’t been asked about it explicitly (yet), Jenkins’ conclusion that the Bates v Post Office Horizon Issues judgment was wrong implies he believes the people the Post Office successfully prosecuted were guilty, given it was the Horizon Issues judgment which allowed their cases to be referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Mr Jenkins’ evidence to the Inquiry will continue for the rest of this week.

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78 responses to “Gareth Jenkins: the misplaced confidence of an unreliable god”

  1. […] come along if you can.To read an assessment of Day 1 of Jenkins’ evidence, please see “The misplaced confidence of an unreliable god“For Day 2, please see “The god complex […]

  2. Pamela Sharp-Popple BA retired JP avatar
    Pamela Sharp-Popple BA retired JP

    I am married to a retired scientist who was very high up in BT a definite ‘code breaker’. A lot of his ex colleagues are very similar to geeky GJ. However this does not excuse the lack of empathy and negligence GJ has exhibited over the past four days. He reiterated over and over again that the system was robust and mostly fit for purpose. No-one asked him what percentage wise was his word ‘mostly’. Was it 60, 70 or even 80%. What evidence did he have of this apart from conversations on the bus, in the canteen or even in the toilets whilst washing his grubby little hands with his Fujitsu and POL colleagues. And then if say it was 90% robust with 11,000 terminals this could have affected 1100 of them. Where is the audit trail that these bugs were fixed and what damage they had done, and what post masters had been affected?

  3. I am an engineer (civil) who did a post grad diploma in computer science and has spent a large part of his career writing programs to do numerical modelling. I have never written an accounts package but I was once asked to design one and I produced a specification/ system design.

    There is a remarkable deficiency in the Horizon system in that it doesn’t (apparently) contain a function which would allow a user to print out the entire history of transactions which lead to an account not balancing. (This is the problem which Alan Bates came up against in his own post office). If a post office didn’t have its own printer then POL should have sent a complete listing of the transactions to a sub-postmaster (on request) when his account failed to balance. (Or maybe a floppy disk if the sub postmaster had his own PC and printer).

    The absence of the facility which I have just described is a major design flaw in the Horizon system but nobody at the inquiry seems to have noticed this.

    DipCompSci (1973).

    1. Nicholas McGee avatar
      Nicholas McGee

      I’m amazed listening to this that it didn’t have the function to see all of the location transactions for that day (or any day) and be able to step through them with a running balance for the selected transaction at that given point.

      Never seen such an accounting system (or any custom designed software for that matter) that works essentially as a black box; thus far no one person or team seems to know exactly how it works.

      I think at some point people within Fujitsu and confused this Gareth Jenkins with the other (that’s on LinkedIn) that is a Chief Architect but not necessarily on Horizon.

      It also feels like (our) Gareth Jenkins seemed to operate without much, if any, oversight as to what he did on a day to day basis.

    2. Joanna Treasure avatar
      Joanna Treasure

      Nice point.

    3. “DipCompSci (1973).”

      My earliest direct contact with computers was a very basic module included in an engineering course in 1977. My class was taught in Dundee Commercial College (iirc), accessing a mainframe in Glasgow university via 80 miles of copper wire and the Schlumberger Uniselector switches that populated telephone exchanges… I cannot remember a session that went uninterrupted. Must have been worse for you, unless you were fortunate enough to be in the same building as the mainframe… How life’s changed… Or maybe not… were not ( at least some of ) the PO problems down to interrupted communication from terminal to mainframe?

    4. I was thinking exactly the same. An audit log should be traceable.

  4. It is clear that Gareth Jenkins was not the chief architect of Horizon. He was just a foot soldier working on limited portions of it. Fujitsu appear to have thrust him into the court cases against the postmasters with absolutely no advice or backup. His role in court appears to have been as a supporter of Post Office. He certainly was not acting as an Expert Witness. I have followed some of the Inquiry proceedings but have gained no idea as to how the Contract for Horizon was managed by Fujitsu and the identities of the key players responsible for performing it. Also, on the Post Office side, I did not see who was responsible for managing the Contract.

  5. It is clear that Gareth Jenkins was not the chief architect of Horizon. He was just a foot soldier working on limited portions of it. Fujitsu appear to have thrust him into the court cases against the postmasters with absolutely no advice or backup. His role in court appears to have been as a supporter of Post Office. He certainly was not acting as an Expert Witness. I have followed some of the Inquiry proceedings but have gained no idea as to how the Contract for Horizon was managed by Fujitsu and the identities of the key players responsible for performing it.

    1. Seems like this was the perfect storm of 2 companies (POL & FJ) who employed people who were unqualified for and totally out of their depth in the posts they held.
      Throw in a large serving of total callousness from these people and a corrupt legal system, result : lives ruined.

  6. The fact that GJ was left in charge of ARQ requests, an administrative function requiring minimum skill and a slight understanding of spreadsheet data tells me what FJ thought of the skill/talents of GJ.
    ie he was promoted to a minor department in the bowels where he could do minimal harm – a sad end to a “Distinguished Career Engineer” .

  7. Martin Liddament avatar
    Martin Liddament

    “I’m not sure that I, even today, I understand what bugs actually did cause the problems that people have suffered from.”

    I suggest that a system whose users are experiencing undiagnosable incidents is not a robust one.

    1. Every software system has errors and bugs. These are found during the usage of the system and reporter and published (ie described). Then this bug gets diagnosed, a solution worked out by and architect when it is a complex issue and implemented by a software engineer. Normally the software engineer writes automated test procedure to ideally test every combination possible to test every path through the code. Sometimes this fix can introduce a new unexpected bug somewhere else. That is why the run so called regression test that basically retest the entire system module by module. ideally a fix should not create new error in existing tests. Note that depending of the completeness of the test (which can be quite complex) a bug can or can not be found. Sanity or regression test are than always executed before building a new release or so called patch to fix a single or a few issues.

      sorry I can’t scroll back to check what I have exactly written… 🤔

  8. Mr Beer went to great length to show what was required from an expert witness by looking at the declarations from other expert witnesses and showing that Mr Jenkins made no such declarations.

    So I can’t get my head round the fact that every lawyer, solicitor, barrister that dealt with any of these cases must have known exactly what was required from an expert witness and that statements and reports from Mr Jenkins clearly didn’t meet this criteria. That includes those working for the defence, not just those working for Fujitsu or the Post Office. Even more worryingly, it is also true of the judges. The duties of expert witnesses were their bread and butter. Why did none of them question his eligibility to appear as an expert witness?

    Whatever else Mr Jenkins did or did not do, I don’t think he is the villain in the way that his evidence was presented as the evidence of an expert witness- in all probability he simply didn’t know any better. The villains were the judges, lawyers, barristers and solicitors that said nothing either to him or at trial – they knew what was expected.

    1. absolutely agree. Except when coerced into changing statements he should have resisted. He was not arrogant or cynical enough

      1. Victoria Fletcher avatar
        Victoria Fletcher

        Agree with both, he appears to be a ‘yes’ man, a people pleaser, possibly a jobsworth who would do as he was told.
        He appears to love his day job and has been unfortunately thrown into this without much guidance or back up.
        One question though, is he stupid or just ignorant or both?
        Finding it all a little distressing to watch. Is this guy the simple, unthinking fool he comes across as?

    2. This has troubled me since I first came to understand Jenkins’ evidence. How on earth did this get through the legal system? I instructed experts multiple times in civil proceedings before the High Court and the way in which experts provide evidence was – in my experience – very heavily regulated both by Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules and by proper case management. With Jenkins and POL more generally, it was a free-for-all, in circumstances where the defendants’ freedom was at stake. It is a deeply shocking failure of the entire legal system, and seems only to have been properly dismantled by Mr Justice Fraser. I hope that the SRA and BSB take action against the legal advisers concerned for their failures, but I completely agree that there are a significant number of judges whose understanding of experts and case management should be scrutinised and who should be subject to significant sanctions for their abject failures. I hope that Sir Williams makes mention of this in his report.

    3. I agree, but it is striking that neither he nor any of the others seem to have any insight or compassion for the effects of miscarriage of justice

    4. I recommend to those commenting on this Paul Marshall’s article: The harm judges do.

    5. Spot on.

  9. Knowing expert computer programmers very,very well, they are insulated individuals lacking social skills, preferring the control of environments they are tasked to work in to unpredictable social encounter over which they have no control. Jenkins clearly hated being dragged into this enquiry, protesting he would not be turning up.
    Glad he was told it wasn’t a choice he could make!

    I really have enjoyed reading Nick’s feedback and await more on Jenkins over next few days.
    Thank you Nick.

  10. Mr Jenkins appeared to me at first as a nice but dim “engineer”. However today the mask slipped. Unfortunately like many “engineers” of my acquaintance he appears to think he knows everything. Some of his statements today show he has no idea of the consequences of his actions on others. To be blunt he is a dangerous plaint person.

  11. Jason Beer (hopefully Sir Jason soon) expertly dismantled Jenkins on Day 2. The feeble explanation of the ‘highlighted’ section of the witness statement was laughable. It beggars belief that he didn’t stop and think about the degree to which he was getting embroiled in legal matters and the potential impact on people’s lives.

    1. Victoria Fletcher avatar
      Victoria Fletcher

      Too right. Can anyone be that simple?

  12. Stephen Hinch avatar

    Gareth Jenkins is clearly an educated man, particularly with respect to the operation(or not) of the Horizon system.
    After 2 days of hearing his evidence, I am still unable to decide whether he(Gareth Jenkins) is a (willing or unwitting) victim or villain. I have qualified “victim” because clearly it appears that he was oblivious of his legal duty when POL were using him to provide witness statements for use in prosecutions of subpostmasters/mistresses. This being so, in my opinion it does appear that he was “manipulated” by POL prosecutors and lawyers in order to strengthen their case against the true victims(spmrs) of this gross miscarriage of justice. Was Gareth Jenkins naiive? Pardon the expression , but “the jury is still out”.

    1. Michael mcginley avatar
      Michael mcginley

      stephen sorry but how can you be so naive to believe that jenkins is victim.he says that sema mistake was stealing and jumping on the horizon failure bandwagon.he knew what he was doing and deserves to die in prison.i would not shed any tears for this unscrupulous individual

    2. No. He did not even attempt to diagnose reported faults. I would sack him in a heartbeat over that.

      Incompetent. Arrogant. Lazy.

  13. By 4pm Day 2 Jenkins is taking punches right left and centre. This is brutal.
    I believe Jenkins is an intelligent man but so lazy at his job that he always did the least amount of work necessary to pick up the cheque. The whole ‘PO litigations’ were a pain in the ass for him. So, he just gave PO personnel whatever they wanted to hear, including devastating witness statements. Death here by 1000 cuts.

  14. Yes we found out that Mr Jenkins is not the lead architect of Horizon or even the lead engineer, so is the inquiry going to who is and get them to appear before it? As far as I can see, the Horizon software was designed incompetently and implemented by programmers who did not know how to program properly – there are code samples made public earlier which are laughably awful but not a single person on the team questioned them at any point. A maths degree from Cambridge does not qualify anyone to do this sort of work.

  15. I attended the first day of GJ’s testimony and listened remotely today.

    There were some side-splitting moments during Tuesday. I and a few other IT bods I met on the day could hardly contain ourselves when GJ solemnly stated that the ‘Data Tree Build’ bug would remain on a Horizon machine until it was rebooted. Classic support advice, please reboot your PC!

    Equally having JB and GJ solemnly discuss what a node in a tree is just made me laugh.

    However the description of the acyclic graph that came out of this Data Tree discussion allied with

    a) previous evidence of dreadful code and
    b) decisions by people in Fujitsu to not rewrite this code and
    c) the complete absence of unit test suites to ensure code did what it should and
    d) the relative newness of Windows NT and
    e) the likelihood of poor quality / cheap developers

    makes it certain in my mind that there is no way that sufficient could ever have been gathered to send anyone to jail or to ruin them.

  16. The maths geek, with admittedly little or no systems-engineering (SysEng) training, scammed by odious POL operatives?

    Join in the decades-old UK pandemic, where exaggerated titles (distinguished engineer) are viewed as a substitute for objective competence. Watch Beer KC a few times, learn legalese, then appoint yourself a Grand Barrister of the Order!

    Note: After a few major disasters caused by people with unsuitable qualifications, Canada enshrined the “engineer” title in law.

    1. Jenkins versus McLachlan.

      Jenkins: Bumbling (SysEng) amateur who failed to spot the EPOSS turd at the centre of Horizon; who “believed” Horizon to be “robust”, despite years of irrefutable evidence (numerous serious faults) to the contrary; who failed to comprehend the basic requirements of the expert-witness role.

      McLachlan: Professor of Computer Science; transpose of Jenkins.

      1. Maths geeks?

        Can calculate the volume of a jam-jar…..cannot get the lid off!

        1. “Can calculate the volume of a jam-jar”

          Geeky question… Do you mean “volume”? or “capacity”? and even “volume” needs further explanation. A jar with lid off, immersed in a container of water will displace a certain volume of water, relating to the amount of glass used in its manufacture. Lid on, immersed, it will displace a greater volume of water…

          Capacity, though, I’d not calculate, since I’d have to relearn forgotten calculus and make tedious measurements… I’d establish the volume of water it can accommodate, by means of filling the jar with water, weighing the filled jar, and taking the jar’s own mass and the temperature into account, since water’s density is affected by temperature, the volume of that mass of water would be the jar’s capacity…

          Geeky enough? Another geek will point out details I missed (intentionally, to save time)

          I had to stab a Ragu jar lid (not so different to a jam jar) recently to get it open… I could have warmed it, the non destructive method, but stabbing it was quicker, if less scientific…

          Geeks get a bad rap, but geeks notice detail, and that’s something PO needed… people who notice, appreciate the importance of, and act upon, detail…

  17. It seems to me that there are three major issues that caused this miscarriage of justice:
    1) Anyone who has ever worked with computers knows that every IT system has glitches. The problem from that is that POL and Fujitsu had no system in place for assisting the subpm’s when these glitches occurred. In any major company there is an IT section. When an employee has a problem you call them and they come and fix the issue. They didn’t do this for the subpm’s, who were left without any assistance whatsoever. Had this help occurred then the scandal would never have happened.
    2) The issues at 1) were then compounded by the ‘investigators’ at POL and the prosecution team , Bradshaw and others who didn’t do any investigation at all but bullied and pressured subpm’s into pleading guilty to false accounting or theft in order to avoid jail. Lawyers and judges failed to see that there was no evidence of wrongdoing and that the system of providing evidence of guilt had been reversed in that the subpm’s had to prove their innocence
    3) The cover-up by POL executive, internal and external lawyers, barristers etc, when faced with the errors at 1) and 2).
    Whilst Gareth Jenkins is not blameless, I don’t think he’s the worst of them – he’s a typical person who is focused on his area of expertise – i.e. IT systems. The fact that he didn’t act properly as an ‘expert witness’ is entirely the fault of the lawyers and barristers who were instructing him. If he is prosecuted then I would expect a long list of lawyers, barristers, PO Executives and investigators to precede him.

    1. Good analysis

      1. I agree, as yet I don’t think a single bug has been attributed to any of the 900
        Four days of questioning has not found Gareth Jenkins wrong in what he said about bugs in any of the cases that he was an expert witness.
        But had he followed his clear duties as an expert witness many prosecutions might have been found unsafe.
        They were all in a bad bed but no one had the moral leadership to change course.

    2. Yes that’s pretty much correct.

      I would just add to your point 1) that it is clear that when these glitches, lockups, blue screen of death etc happened, Horizon didn’t clean up after itself adequately afterwards. It also seems clear to me that the data correction changes by that subterranean Fujitsu team in Bracknell weren’t audited properly or even at all.

  18. 12.29 today. J Beer in my opinion lands a significant punch. Now we’re getting somewhere. Jenkins staggers slightly.

    1. The first half hour was Jenkins’ credibility being completely destroyed.

    2. I had to work at lunchtime so missed this bit, please advise so I can find it on the video on YouTube. Thank you. (the timings on the YouTube video refer to when the recording started, not GMT)

  19. Looks like Mr Jenkins was being thrown under the bus by Post Office.

    He was being painted as an evil mastermind and the main architect of Horizon but that now has been proven false.

    He was also blown apart some of Second Sight’s evidence.

    1. “He was also blown apart some of Second Sight’s evidence.”


  20. Morning,

    An aside, but isn’t it nice to see that Mr Beer still has his four colour pen he had at school. A small touch of humanity in this depressing Inquiry.

  21. Brian henderson avatar
    Brian henderson

    He seems a lamb to the slaughter…… not the chief architect after all.

    A scape-goat for the Pol executives and highly paid lawyers

    Horizon accounted for 2-3 million transactions per day, 1 billion per year and £800 million in turnover.
    It not flawless but sadly issues where not widespread (systemic) but ‘clustered’ at a few branches each year.
    Pol should have held Fujitsu account for these discrepancies, and had them fixed…. Instead they Prosecuted subpostmasters instead and did so over 20 years until Mr Bates stopped them with GLO case.

    Real culprits are Pol executives and Pol lawyers… not Fujitsu who built Horizon to specifications…..

  22. Morning of Jenkins Day 3
    Impressed nay amazed at how J Beer has prepared for this questioning of Jenkins.
    I suppose Beer is no more technology savvy than man in the street therefore his level of questioning must have taken an enormous amount of preparation.

    Jenkins ? Still scratching my head 🤔

    1. Peter Burfitt avatar

      Agreed. Not sure if Jenkins is an incredibly accomplished actor / liar or just a decent bloke a bit out of his depth. Currently favour the later who was, shall we be polite and say, ‘ mislead ‘ by POL lawyers and top brass. However, open to make my own judgment as this progesses.

    2. Today (26.6.24) is day 2!

  23. The auditor reports suggest that there was plenty wrong with Horizon as an accounting system, but who at Fujitsu or Post Office would be motivated to spend money and time finding and tracking discrepancies that according to the contracts could be blamed on SPMs?

    1. But it’s still staggering that nobody in either organisation except Richard Roll was jolted into action by the fact that people were being sent to prison.

  24. He’s going for the Boris Johnson defence, isn’t he?

    Even though it looks in hindsight like no rational/reasonable person could possibly look at the evidence in front of their face and believe a thing, that thing is what I sincerely believed and therefore you can’t possibly accuse me of lying.

  25. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Somebody did a nice bit of investigating overnight. That big bubble of confidence has been burst in spectacular fashion.

  26. After hearing the evidence from the Second Sight guys I was really hoping that Gareth Jenkins would come across as a character more sinned against than sinner. He disappointed me today.

    A maths degree from Cambridge yet he reaches the conclusion that a computer system is operating robustly without full knowledge of the full system? Chaos theory, statistics and common sense were obviously not part of a Cambridge maths degree in the early 70’s.

    To paraphrase Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo, Entropy, Entropy, they’ve all got into Entropy.

    At the very heart of the original system you had a mishmash of Visual Basic, C++ and data without integrity. Hard coded instead of tables. Then you added complexity with unproven hardware, poor communications, both digitally and to end users who had a wide range of computer literacy, poor training and an even poorer help desk to contact. Four levels of support with no overall control to manage the people and process, let alone the technology.

    Sophisticated Management and Financial Information reporting for end users? Forget it.

    How could Jenkins have been so convinced that everything was working normally? Did he look at data management as a holistic system or a discreet series of bits and bobs that proved end users robbed?

    Even in a less complex system than Horizon there is always the risk that changing existing software will result in unexpected problems, unmet objectives, or both.

    Those should be have negligible when the software was first created, but given the Charles Cipione evidence I very much doubt that the Horizon team at Fujitsu had that luxury.

    Anyone who has worked in the IT sector knows the rule of thumb that software entropy grows with each development iteration.

    To have provided expert witness statements you had to understand the full system and how your evidence can affect the lives of those who are being prosecuted. Jenkins obviously failed, like so many in this scandal by being over confident in themselves. Today the ego landed. I hope for his sake it doesn’t stay grounded in the sea of inequity.

    I await the next few days evidence and hope I don’t carry on screaming at the screen. The first day seemed like Carry on Regardless with a bit of Carry on Dick.

    Today is Carry on Distinguished Engineer or as we now know our Distinguished Engineer, Carry On Cowboy.

    Carry on Don’t Lose Your Head?

    1. Enjoyed reading your analysis of what went wrong particularly laughed at ”Today the ego landed”–loved it.

      However my most fascinating linguistic addition was the term ”junk code” which I delivered to a programmer friend of mine. He curses regularly about the originally OK but now ageing and malfunctioning programme for a European wide company, which he and a big team are tasked with rewriting to keep the global website working.
      However, at no stage have any staff in the company been imprisoned or falsely charged………

      Jenkins is definitely protecting his own interests at all times and must surely know he is guilty not just of malfeasance but perjury. At least he was forced to appear after refusing to do so.

  27. Mark O'Meara avatar

    Thoughts from Mr Jenkins’ first session:-
    1) There is a language problem. Words mean different things to different people – including the word ‘robust’. Unfortunately, while the IT man (Jenkins) knows that ‘robust’ does NOT mean infallible, the POL people (well aware of the fallibility) and the judiciary (seemingly in ignorance of the distinction) used the word to send people to jail.
    2) Why did no-one on the Misra defence team query the fact that Jenkins wasn’t an ‘expert witness’ or an independent witness? Was it not obvious at the time that Jenkins was an employee of Fujitsu? Why did the judge in that case not spot the fact that Jenkins, in his evidence to the court, had not made the usual declarations required of an expert witness?
    3) Jenkins allowed POL employees and legal people to change his words of evidence – usually by letting them delete those lines of text in which he had been expressing caveats about Horizon or about his other conclusions. He gave no convincing explanation for this, in his Day 1 session.

    1. Agree completely, especially point 2). The legal people in this scandal are at the top of the tree of culpability in my estimation.

  28. Jenkins’ generalised view that Horizon was robust does not seem to have been based on anything, it was simply his ‘impression’. He accepted that he had no overall view of bugs errors and defects and of issues coming into the help desk, he never spoke to the Post Office business support help desk, he certainly doesn’t appear to have asked a single end user about their experience of the system.
    So what was his ‘impression’ based on exactly? The weather in Bracknell? The look on the faces of his colleagues?

  29. ‘I was aware of was the fact that bugs that actually impacted the accounts were very rare. There was good monitoring in place to detect them and they got fixed shortly afterwards’, said Jenkins.
    If that were true, why was it that £thousands of unresolved discrepancies lay in suspense accounts for three years before they were treated as profit and available for calculating and distributing management bonuses?

  30. Teresa Lawson avatar

    Thanks Nick. These posts are the highlight of my day.

  31. For me it seems very possible that GJ was selected as a convenient corporate pasty very early on in this coverup. It does not appear that various bad actors had any trouble rewriting his distinguished statements, feeding his narrow minded ego and engineering the cover brand narrative. Calling Gareth a God was identifying him as a heaven sent fall guy.

    1. Mark Jefferies avatar
      Mark Jefferies

      More a sausage roll than a pasty.

      1. lol typo ‘patsy’

  32. Kathy Pidgeon avatar

    I have what maybe a naive question,but when somebody is appointed as an expert witness who checks that they are really impartial? From what I’ve heard in the inquiry so far it seems obvious GJ was far from impartial.

  33. 1973 ICL is significant. Code or design geeks then were managed by layers above them who picked up the issues created by the size of such systems.
    I guess all the layers which protected Jenkins from himself have mostly gone & he hasn’t changed.
    But that doesn’t excuse his god like self belief

  34. Mark Jefferies avatar
    Mark Jefferies

    Here is a self-important, stubborn, churlish man who constantly pushed back about mis-use of his precious time when functionaries should have been doing the tedious work investigating the system issues for prosecutorial work. It’s a theme that appeared again and again in email chains where he can be seen complaining and dragging in others to do the work. He wanted to get back to his ‘day job’: his inviolable little world of computer geekery where he could play with the codes that no one else can understand.
    It’s entirely consistent that his prep for court was cursory and didn’t reflect McLachlan’s thorough work. He only skim read important documents; he didn’t really listen; he didn’t need to, he wrote the manual.
    Of course he was told about the duties of an expert witness; only he heard the word ‘expert’ and missed the rest.

    1. Totally agree!

    2. Yes the problem in simple terms is some ‘high level’ designer of code fails to document clearly and carefully what the aim of the code is and how it works so those coming along later to use it then FAIL to build on it, and tweak it, are not fully aware of what those aims and goals were and how the code works.
      Jenkins clearly has such a high opinion of himself he clearly delights in ‘owning’ full knowledge of his own code, delights that he has set others up to FAIL, and rests on that self created and self appointed, superior pedestal, pouring scorn and contempt on anyone who fails to decode etc, because that sustains his ‘invinciblity’ as a code writer.
      Either that or he has aspergers—-ergo is socially inept and prefers to live in his ivory tower at all times until FORCED to come out, as he was for this enquiry. I have a relative who suffers the same syndrome and delight in always knowing more than anyone else or setting them up for failure with programming.

  35. Well, after day one it is pretty obvious what Jenkins’ approach/defence will be and we’ve already seen it signalled by his lawyers – ‘I had no idea what being an ‘expert witness’ was’, I just turned up in court and told it as I saw it’. It is also fairly obvious to see how Post Office was able to deploy him so easily as a useful idiot. The guy wasn’t that bothered with doing research, properly reading the detail of documents or finding any counter evidence to what he already believed. He was all about confirmation bias.

    Kudos to Jason Beer and his team for doing all their IT homework. He looks as if he knows what he’s talking about.

    1. Unfortunately that approach came back to bite him first thing this morning.

  36. I’m curious to see if Beer can find anything specific to blame on Jenkins. I might be going against popular opinion and the suspicious tone in your article, but I find Jenkins’ testimony and witness statement fairly persuasive so far. I haven’t made any solid conclusions yet, but he seems like a well-meaning but not very curious tech geek. Maybe others saw him as a convenient scapegoat because his evidence was delayed for so long. We’ll have to wait and see if Sir Wyn finds any merit in his protestations.

    1. Agree with your assessment.

    2. well i am left with egg on my face aren’t i!

      1. If it makes you feel any better I was thinking pretty much the same as you, seeing Jenkins as a bit of an eccentric, but not particularly malicious.


    3. I thought Beer skilfully honed in on the fact that Jenkins relied upon the term ‘robust’ to hide his lack of judgement in giving evidence in coourt cases. Beer certainly gave a heads up at stages by reminding Jenkins not to ‘incriminate’ himself when for me, sorry the arrogant man clearly did commit perjury in those court cases.

  37. What’s emerging for me is the people at the heart of the whole conspiracy seem to be the lawyers and investgators.

    They seem to have known the truth, and still kept milking POL for millions and making a fortune.

    They’d do and try absolutely anything to keep this band wagon going, they had both motive and intent.

    1. And Mark Davies, the spin extraordinaire

    2. Agreed.

      The ‘lawyer community’, solicitors and barristers, with some exceptions come over as smart well educated people without a moral compass between them and without a shred of integrity.

  38. nick canfield avatar

    Hmmm. Barrister Tatford or Techy Jenkins, who is being economical with the truth. Was the “Expert Witness Court Duties” properly explained, and/or understood. There was a Bond Dickinson document shown during the oral evidence, but Beer seems to doubt that Jenkins received it. Without definite written proof Jenkins was told his expert duties, we are down to – did Jenkins understand what Tatford thinks he said. Send reinforcements we are going to advance becomes – send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance. Will Beer stop the dancing before the end of the week?

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