Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

Horizon trial 20 March secret email

Into the Horizone

G’ mornin’

My daughter decided to get up at 5am today to do some revision. She thought playing Eminem very loudly would help. Our bedroom is directly above our daughter’s. What a time to be alive/awake.

Please have a look at last night’s secret email for all the links to all yesterday’s action.

I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday, to be honest. These trials just throw up so much information and documentation when court is sitting it’s impossible to keep on top of it. Your correspondence, though, is by far the most welcome part.

I have settled into a routine whereby I get up early to write this, get the kids to school, deal with my correspondence on the train, walk to court, start tweeting, walk to Waterloo from court whilst waiting for the transcript and cogitating on what I thought was the most significant thing about the day.

CCRC and James Arbuthnot

The redoubtable Karl Flinders from Computer Weekly has been in court most days, and being a lovely sort of fellow, he keeps sharing information with me. I stupidly failed to ask if I can share it with you and I dare not do so without his permission. But he has been industrious, getting an update from the CCRC about when they propose to make a decision on the cohort of Subpostmasters who have criminal convictions (spoiler: don’t hold your breath). He has also interviewed Lord Arbuthnot, who was Jo Hamilton’s MP and former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group looking into the Post Office.

I will put up links to both of Karl’s articles about the CCRC and Lord Arbuthnot when they go live. Karl’s job isn’t solely to focus on this trial – he is an editor and has to commission and write other stories on computers, but he has spent as much time as he can in court, soaking up the proceedings. In fact, Pam Stubbs, lead claimant in Trial 1 and very likely a lead claimant in Trial 3 told me yesterday that Computer Weekly’s initial article back in 2009 is the reason she first contacted the JFSA. Journalism works.

Hobby horse klaxon

Whilst I’m on the subject – a few people have got in touch to ask why the judgment on Friday didn’t get more media coverage.

Firstly, this story, fascinating though it is, still doesn’t quite pass the “who cares?” test. When you’re competing with horrendous things happening all over the world and Brexit consuming vast amount of airtime and journalistic resources, you’re going to lose out.

Secondly, Friday’s judgment was a stunning victory, but can you explain what it means in ten seconds? You can with most trial outcomes. There’s your other problem. This is a complex case.

Also I can guarantee the JFSA would have got more TV coverage if, instead of 4 claimants Friday standing silently (and largely unidentified) outside of court, there were 40, with posters and banners and smiles on their faces.

The sheer numbers, and the likely hugs and tears would have made for good pictures. It may come as a surprise, but television news editors need good pictures, not 400 page judgments.

In fact if Jo Hamilton hadn’t made the decision at the last moment to come to court I doubt the story would have got onto Channel 4 News at all.

You might not like that, but you can either fulminate in obscurity about what the media should do, or work out what the media does do, and use that to get what you want.

What’s next?

A colleague got in touch last night to find out what was happening this week. I suggested unless the Post Office folds or there is a dramatic intervention by the government (both of which might happen), I can’t see any reason to point a TV camera at this story until the Horizon trial judgment, which I can’t help thinking won’t be as big a win for the claimants (if indeed, it is a “win” at all).

Things can change, obviously, and please do let me know if you think I’m wrong. Meanwhile individual efforts some have made in trying to persuade MPs, the Telegraph, the Guardian, the BBC, the Independent, all regional outlets and basically anyone with a platform to give more attention to this story might help, but if you are, please try to do it properly. Personal contacts are the best way to go about things. And always put yourself in the shoes of the person you are getting in touch with. Haranguing a journalist or media organisation to cover a story and/or berating them for not doing so is a recipe for disaster.

In fact, right now – I’d just be quietly contact-building. Make friends with an influential journalist. Take them for a pint. See if they’ve clocked some of the posts the Daily Mail, Karl or I have written. Don’t overwhelm them. Just tell them your story. Point them to the High Court victory. Let them know you’re there if they need you.

Could be worse, though, right?

Friday’s judgment was a huge boost for public and media awareness of this story – there is something on the record at almost the highest level in the land, which incontrovertibly supports the Subpostmasters claims. That never existed before. It was stunning. I feel very honoured to have witnessed it (which is entirely due to the funding you have provided, so I am grateful too).

The things J Fraser ruled about the Post Office witnesses (and his favourable comments on the honesty and integrity of the claimant witnesses) is on the record.

Post Office director Angela van den Bogerd will always be a woman who tried to mislead a judge in court under oath.

The findings by the judge are couched in language which makes it abundantly clear what he thinks of the Post Office’s arguments and past behaviour.

For the claimants, the judgment is a platform to build on. It is no longer the word of Subpostmasters against the Post Office. Lots of what the claimants say has been found as fact. That can’t hurt.

Post Office Trial has a colleague!

You may have seen me ask for for a sub whilst I am not around w/c 8 April. An ideal candidate has made herself known. Her name is Kim. We are meeting for the first time today and she might end up doing some live tweeting for the final session this afternoon (which is when my concentration goes and I’m battling to stay focused, so it might be best for all of us).

If all goes well, Kim will be standing in for me for three days (8 – 10 April) whilst Mr Green cross-examines Dr Worden, the Post Office’s IT expert. You will not need to adjust your sets in any way, Kim will take over the blog, this email list, my twitter handle and bring a level of professionalism and expertise well beyond mine, I’m sure.

This was meant to be a really short email. I’m sorry. I’m just chatty.

I’m going to have a quick slurp of tea and get in me business whistle.


Read yesterday’s secret email for all the links to all the stories and click @nickwallis at 10.30am to read the live tweets from court.

Have a great day and thanks for getting this far, if you did!


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