It’s all over
We are now in stage three of this scandal. The first was the period when the Post Office was prosecuting innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit. That was 2000 to 2013.
Then we entered the cover-up phase when the Post Office knew it likely had criminalised innocent people but had to have the truth pulled out of it by the combined efforts of the High Court, the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Court of Appeal.
Now we have phase 2019 to present, where the Post Office tells the government, the public and the Post Office Inquiry that it has changed, whilst designing bonus schemes for its executives for simply participating in a statutory Inquiry at the same time as trying to ensure the innocent people it robbed and ruined stumble to their graves with the minimum of compensation it can possibly give them.
That’s not all
To compound the crass stupidity of performance targets for its work on the Inquiry, the Post Office erroneously stated in its annual report that the Post Office Inquiry had concluded “in line with expectations”.
Then the report’s authoris lied about Sir Wyn Williams’ involvement in signing off the relevant bonus metric in order to award themselves the bonuses. Trebles, drenched in the misery and suicide of innocent people, all round.
That’s not all
What we have learned since I last wrote to you, is that when the Post Office became aware it had put a naked falsehood in its annual report – on 6 April at the latest – it didn’t tell its shareholder, the government.
The Post Office annual report is laid before Parliament. The falsehood in its report therefore misled Parliament. But the Post Office didn’t tell the government it had misled Parliament. The Business Department told me it didn’t wasn’t made aware of the falsehood until Friday – after it was published on the Post Office website.
The minister only found out on the Saturday after the Post Office had slipped a little correction onto its corporate website.
Where are we now, then?
The Director General of the Business Department has now written to the Post Office Chief Executive demanding an apology for the Post Office’s failure to alert the minister to the falsehood in its annual report. Whilst also demanding an explanation as to how such a falsehood could end up in there.
But the Post Office doesn’t know how it got there, and has, true to corporate form, thrown an ex-member of staff under the bus.
The Post Office CEO has given back a bit of his bonus.
Accountability vs Reputation
The whole episode has brought everything about this scandal into sharp focus. The Post Office does not care about the victims of this scandal. It does not care about accountability. It only cares about its reputation and the people within it only care about their reputation, and how they can enrich themselves.
Otherwise why would you devise a bonus scheme which apparently depends on you completing some kind of woolly metric to do with handing over some documents, lying about it having been approved by the independent chair of a statutory inquiry and slipping the news you’d got that wrong out on a Friday afternoon before the biggest news event of the year?
At the same time as trying to ensure the victims of this scandal limp away with the bare minimum of compensation, which they’ve had to wait and fight for for years.
This is not normal. Something has gone very wrong here. The Post Office was out of control whilst it was criminalising innocent people, it was out of control whilst it was trying to remove a High Court judge for doing his job and it is out of control now, enriching itself with a bonus scheme based on what it should be doing out of a basic human sense of moral decency.
PS Thanks and welcome to all the new subscribers. I’m not usually as ranty as this, but I can’t promise I won’t be going forward. A line has been crossed.