Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

CCRC refers another six Subpostmaster cases back to the Crown Court

The UnProsecution Machine grinds on

Morning all

It’s always tricky to know when to call people, but I have learned that, as a rule, Postmasters tend to be very early risers. If you want to catch a Postmaster for a chat, they’ll often take a call between 8 – 9am when most will have nearly finished preparing for the day’s trading, having been up several hours already. I have just had an energetic conversation with an extremely nice man who has been filling me in on what’s happening in serving Postmaster-land. He’s just had a payment offer via the Historical Shortfall Scheme, which was the reason for my call, but it was great to have a gossip with someone who has clearly had his Weetabix this morning – it’s infectious. I was working on a late shift at ITV News last night so I must admit to feeling a little groggy, but the sunshine in his voice was a tonic. Good morning to you, sir, and to every secret emailer who is opening up a Post Office today.

More referrals

I am taking a brief break from the book to point you in the direction of a few recent bits and bobs, the biggest of which is another six referrals from the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

I have written the details up for the website here. Karl Flinders from Computer Weekly has also given his take on the story.

Recent developments continue to highlight to me just how important the group litigation and the limb 2 win at the Court of Appeal have been for the campaigning Subpostmasters. The very narrow definition of Horizon data being “essential” to a Subpostmasters’ prosecution has allowed the Post Office to contest far more prosecutions than I thought it would be able to do, and the lack of a limb 2 finding (or, perhaps, the lack of any framework to argue and land a limb 2 finding) in the Crown Court has emboldened the Post Office to refuse interim compensation payments to many of those whose convictions have been quashed. Despite the fine words being said by the Post Office about its “historic” failures, the organisation has essentially franchised out its decision-making on the miscarriages of justice element of this scandal to its lawyers and the Treasury. If that means telling a Postmaster whose conviction has been quashed that he is not entitled to any compensation, so be it. As I have reflected before, natural justice and the law aren’t necessarily always in alignment.

JFSA still holding out on inquiry

Alan Bates’ game of come-and-get-me with Sir Wyn Williams continues. By holding out on whether he will cooperate with the now statutory inquiry into the Post Office Scandal, Bates believes he is winning concessions for the 555 Subpostmasters who took the Post Office to the High Court. In late August, Sir Wyn Williams published his provisional list of issues to be considered during the inquiry, which included the matter of “redress” for Subpostmasters. At the time, Bates told members of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance mailing list:

“the wording ‘to obtain redress’ which at first glance could mean it intends to look at the rightful compensation the group failed to receive. But does it mean that, and if it does, why doesn’t it state it clearly? ‘Redress’ appears six times in the document, but not once does ‘financial redress’ appear, why?”

In a recent mailing, Bates has an update:

“this has now been discussed between our legal team and the Inquiry. I am led to believe that where ‘redress’ has been used in the provisional list, in legal terms, that does refer to financial issues. However in light of our concerns, I understand that there will be the inclusion of ‘financial’ or clarification of the meaning contained within ‘redress’ when the final list of issues is produced. So we’ll have to see if they are as good as their word.”

More anon, no doubt.

ONrecord produces more Post Office content

The couple behind ONrecord, who have a profound interest the Post Office scandal, have produced two more video interviews which are well worth a watch. The first is a lengthy conversation with Nicki Arch, who was prosecuted by the Post Office in the early days of Horizon and lost everything. Nicki refused point blank to plead guilty to false accounting. When the Post Office took her to trial, she and her barrister faced them down in front of a jury. The Post Office barrister was reduced to throwing a bunch of paper dockets at her in court and telling her to explain her losses to the jury. Nicki held out and told the barrister that was his job. He couldn’t. There was no evidence or case. Nicki was found not guilty, but the stress of her prosecution and the financial devastation led to severe consequences for her mental health. Nicki very kindly told me her story back in 2019. It’s fascinating to watch her explain it again in a very different context to the ONrecord team. One twitter correspondent says she was moved to tears by Nicki’s words.

The other ONrecord production on the Post Office is a very different perspective – from a corporate governance expert called Dr Alan Brener at the UCL Faculty of Laws. Dr Brener has not been personally touched by the scandal, but he has a lot to say on the failures at board and management level at the Post Office. I am part-listening to it as I write. Dr Brener draws paralells with the mid-Staffordshire NHS scandal and the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster – it’s really useful context.

More Sunday Times material

The journalist Sabah Meddings, who has written a number of strong pieces about the Post Office Scandal in the past posted an article last week which is a good “state of play” piece about everything that’s going on at the moment. It’s called “The £1bn Post Office victims“. You’ll need a login or subscription to read it.

Subpostmasters academic forum

As mentioned in the last newsletter, Professor Richard Moorhead from the University of Exeter has received funding for an academic study into the Post Office Scandal.

Richard is hosting a Zoom discussion for former Subpostmasters tonight at 6pm. He says:

“We would like to discuss the work we have conducted so far with interested Sub-PostMasters/Mistresses and other victims of the scandal, and to hear your thoughts and views on what we are doing and how we can make it most useful… We will spend about half an hour discussing what we are doing and planning and then leave plenty of time for questions and thoughts from you.”

There’s still time to take part if you’re interested, but attendance is by invitation only – so email

Richard says if you are not a Subpostmaster (former or serving) please let him know your interest in the event.

Apologies if I’ve missed anything that you have so kindly sent me over the last couple of weeks – remind me and I will stick it in the next email.

Once the book has been put to bed I will ramp up this newsletter service. I’m hoping to do some more broadcast journalism on the scandal, and if anyone fancies hearing a daily or weekly podcast whilst the oral evidence sessions of the Inquiry are running next year, do let me know. I will be touting my services to commissioning execs or budget-holders nearer the time.

All best


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