Page and Marshall in the clear
Good evening dear friends from my remote Devonian hidey-hole. I went outside for the first time in three days today to explore the nearby lanes and paths. It was the first chance I have had since coming down here on Sunday. I’m meant to be cut off from the outside world, beavering away on the magnum opus, but I am now beginning to think this might have been the wrong couple of weeks in which to try to do it. There appears to be a Lot Going On.
In juggling Stuff That Is Happening Now with the Research Into the Ancient History I have more or less managed to come to a work/work/work balance, which involves writing in the morning, Zooms and calls on my terrible 4G connection in the afternoon and blogging and/or secret emailing in the evening. On merit. Today is meritorious.
So let’s crack on. Here are two blog posts I have put up:
Page and Marshall in the clear – yesterday the barristers Flora Page and Paul Marshall were told they weren’t going to face contempt proceedings for leaking the Clarke Advice. Mr Marshall has some Strong Words to say about the Post Office’s behaviour in this whole affair, and I urge you to read them.
Judgment Day picture gallery – I asked if you would be kind enough to send me some pics and you very graciously did. I’m still holding out for a decent snap of Tom Hedges and his bottle of prosecco, so if you have one, and don’t mind sharing it, please get in touch.
There have been many brilliant journalists and bloggers writing many extraordinary things about this scandal since Friday, but for me, this one comes top of the pile. It will, I think, be of particular interest to the growing band of legally qualified secret emailers. It is by Professor Richard Moorhead, who picks apart some very interesting legal avenues pursued by the Post Office over the course of this scandal. He has also given me a good idea for a third Panorama. Whether Panorama think it’s a good idea or not is a different matter.
Another question being asked is what about Fujitsu? This time in the Spectator. Why is that company not copping any heat? It’s a good piece and if you will excuse me, I will plug it alongside my own article on Fujitsu from June last year in which I suggest the company is sailing very close to being misleading in its evidence to the BEIS Select Committee inquiry.
There’s more. Chris Head, former Subpostmaster and campaigner who was lurking outside court on Friday in his campaign T-shirt has written an excellent fisking of the Commons Debate on the Court of Appeal decision. The short point is that the government’s position has not budged an inch since the judgment, but Chris elegantly pulls the details apart and exhorts his readers to sign his petition for a proper inquiry. Worth reading.
I have also added a timeline to my Paula Vennells Career Obituary which details each job as she lost it, how every departure was her decision and how nothing was her fault. And I should probably add her temporary leave from the board of the Church’s Ethical investment group is now permanent, as confirmed by a secret emailer who forwarded me the following statement after making a personal enquiry:
“Consistent with Paula Vennells’s decision to step down from the boards on which she sits, we can confirm that Paula is no longer a member of the EIAG. We would like to thank Paula very much for her service to the EIAG.”
I would like to give my thanks to the now unconvicted Chris Trousdale for his gift of a JFSA face mask on Friday, which I am going to keep “unboxed” as it will almost certainly become a collectors item (see below). It was, I have to say, great to see so many Subpostmasters so happy on Friday. It has been fun messaging a number of people I am now lucky to count as friends, just to see how they are the week after the week before. The emotional impact of Friday’s achievement was epic – it hit quite a few of us observers in the midriff, so goodness knows what it was like for those in the thick of it.
For some, the pain is never far from the surface, and Friday was a bittersweet occasion. Here is what Karen Wilson had to say in her local paper. Karen’s husband Julian sadly passed away before he was able to see his name being cleared and Karen brought his ashes along to court on Friday.
Also in the early hours of Satuday morning, I received the following email from a former Subpostmaster:
“The sense of injustice to us all is enormous… I was emotional, sad, angry, but most of all quiet with my thoughts. Compensation yes but does this repair the wounds? It never can. I watched my former shop and home demolished this week, so many memories but we had no choice. The business died and the wolves were at the door. Like many, I have lost everything.
“I am finally going to the press with my local newspaper, I will forward you the article. The hardest thing is the way past shop users and supposed friends, have shunned us. We were guilty even in their eyes, unbelievable. You really learn who you can call true friends…..
“I’m tired but cannot sleep. I’m sort of dead inside, it has taken my life for years, I now need to move on.”
The email was from Guy Vinall, who kindly allowed me to share it with you. Guy’s local newspaper published his story today. I hope he can find some peace soon.
Finally, a welcome to all the new secret emailers. I am so grateful to everyone who has donated or just got in touch to say thanks. I would have to spend all day dealing with correspondence in order to answer every message and I am so sorry if I do not reply to you. I have to focus on the book and the website and trying to communicate via this email. I do read every single thing I get sent, though, so please do stay in touch.
My crowdfunding campaign will come to an end at the end of this week. At some stage this weekend, when we’ve road-tested the links, the book will go on pre-sale at full price via my publisher’s website and all the usual channels. I’ll try to ensure you get first sight of the cover, which I’m really pleased with. Your generosity has allowed me to build a war chest of donations I can use to fund my coverage of the next few twists and turns of this story. And I hope the book will bring this scandal to an international audience. Thank you for supporting public-interest journalism – especially the stuff I do for the Post Office Trial website, which is free at the point of consumption, powered by you.
Something earth-shattering will have to happen tomorrow for a secret email to appear. I want to watch the football. I’ll probably be back on Friday. Enjoy what’s left of the week.