Fury from Subpostmasters left high and dry
The Post Office has refused to make interim payments, as promised by the government, to several Subpostmasters who have had their convictions quashed.
This is a developing story, but I expect once it reaches the ears of our elected representatives they’ll go ballistic.
It seems as if the majority of people who have been told to go whistle for their money had their convictions quashed at Southwark Crown Court rather than the Court of Appeal. I have yet to be told why this is.
If you had your conviction quashed and have been told the Post Office has refused to make you any interim payment, or you represent someone who has, please get in touch. I’d like to see the reasoning. All documents will be treated in absolute confidence.
Please also have a think about going public because I can’t make a TV piece unless someone is willing to be filmed. If you are willing to go on camera, let me know, as I’m pretty sure I know a few television news editors who would be very interested in this story.
The Post Office would not tell me why they were refusing payments to some Subpostmasters, but they tell me six interim payments have been made so far and each of them were for the maximum £100,000. I understand from another source that one of those payments was to someone whose conviction was quashed at Southwark Crown Court.
What it does suggest is that the Post Office is spoiling for a fight over some malicious prosecution claims. I try to remain neutral as a journalist, but I find this indefensible. I spent some time with a former Subpostmaster who spoke of his joy at having his conviction quashed. He allowed himself to entertain thoughts of being properly compensated for the misery and shame he had to endure. Now that former Subpostmaster’s joy is gone. It looks like he will have to fight again, with his legal team, and suffer the stress and anguish of not knowing what his future holds. It could take years, and no one is getting any younger.
As I say, the media can shine a light on this latest development if someone is willing to go public. The Post Office’s position certainly seems at odds with the government’s promise in July.
Subpostmasters academic forum
Professor Richard Moorhead from the University of Exeter has received funding for an academic study into the Post Office Scandal. Richard is a leading legal ethicist whose work is highly valued by the legal profession. I can also vouch for him being a very nice man!
Richard is hosting a Zoom discussion for former Subpostmasters at 6pm on Tuesday 14 September, and has asked if I could help spread the word. This is what he says about it:
“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. Our research is ongoing and we consider it important that we hear your views, as people who directly experienced relevant issues. 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. We really appreciate any information or perspectives you are able to give us, and your contributions will help us to shape our future research.”
The event will take place under Chatham House rules, which means what you say is reportable and on the record, but not attributable. Nor can you be identified to anyone outside the meeting. This gives everyone present the ability to speak freely about their experiences.
Lord Arbuthnot, who has long campaigned to help former Subpostmasters from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, is chairing the discussion.
If you’d like to attend the Zoom session, please email email@example.com – the event is by invitation only, and it’s not for journalists or lawyers or other professionals, though I might try to sneak in at the back and watch, if Richard will let me.
The text of the manuscript to the book is nearly ready – I’m continually re-writing the final chapter to ensure it is up-to-date. We’re also working on the non-manuscript stuff, including the index (a bigger job than you’d think), glossary, who’s who, timeline and sources. Then it’s a question of deciding what goes on the back cover etc – important design and marketing stuff that has to be just so.
There has been interest from more than one newspaper in serialising the book, which is great, as it will help to grow interest in the story. Like the income generated by the book, Bath Publishing will be donating 10% of any serialisation cash to our-yet-to-be-set-up fund to help existing and former Subpostmasters who have fallen foul of the Post Office’s punitive practices. As soon as we hit the publish button on the book I will start work on making the fund take shape. I am grateful to everyone who has helped with the fact-checking, narrative, and contextual information the book requires. It’s currently weighing in at well over 550 pages, so you will be getting some bangs for your buck!
Have a great weekend.