A key figure behind the flawed IT system that led to hundreds of sub-postmasters being wrongly jailed has told the Post Office inquiry he had “not remembered” legal advice he was given about his obligations as an expert witness.

Former senior Fujitsu engineer Gareth Jenkins was crucial in the prosecutions process because he was one of the architects of the Horizon accounting systems and one of a few people to have extensive knowledge of their workings.

He had said in his evidence on Tuesday that he had not received a letter by Bond Pearce solicitors that had explained his duty of impartiality as an expert witness.

At the start of his second day of evidence, he admitted under questions from counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC that he would have read the document in 2006, after it was shown he had been copied in.

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Mr Jenkins added, however, that his focus would have been on answering questions about Horizon that were contained in a separate attachment.

The letter, which related to the Post Office prosecution of postmaster Lee Castleton, was written four years before Mr Jenkins was presented as an expert witness in the case of Seema Misra, who was wrongfully jailed for 15 months while pregnant in 2010.

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Mr Jenkins told the inquiry on Tuesday that he had not understood the legal obligations of impartiality until 2020.

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Former engineer defends Horizon system

He alleged that the Post Office had exerted pressure on him to support their case against her.

Mr Jenkins, who is being investigated by police over suggestions of perjury, claimed in his witness statement that Post Office lawyer Warwick Tatford had looked over a draft of his witness statement for Mrs Misra’s trial and recommended he “make some points more strongly in favour of the Post Office”.

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Jenkins apology ‘too little too late’

This included, he said, that Mr Tatford “wanted me to say it looked as though Mrs Misra had stolen money rather it was incompetence,” Mr Jenkins wrote.

Asked by Mr Beer what he made of the proposed changes, Mr Jenkins said he assumed it was “normal practice” as he had no comparable experience, but added it had made him feel “uncomfortable”.

Put to him by Mr Beer that he had a number of opportunities to see if the Post Office was tweaking his evidence for its own interest by the end of Mrs Misra’s trial, Mr Jenkins told the inquiry: “Having looked back at things now, I can understand that may have been happening, but at the time I thought everything that was happening was just a legitimate tidying up of statements to make them more readable.”

He apologised to Mrs Misra. She later told Sky News that it was “too little, too late”.