Heeey secret emailers.
I hope you are well. First day back at school for some of us. It just felt like it for the rest of us.
I have been working on a Post Office vs Mental Health piece, about a claimant called Nicki Arch (see pic below). I’ve never met Nicki before, and chances are, neither have you.
Nicki was prosecuted for theft, fraud and false accounting in 2002. She didn’t join the mediation scheme and she only just, after much soul-searching, joined the group litigation. She has never given an interview to any journalist, or attended a claimant meeting or anything. Yet her story is phenomenal.
I urge you to read it in full. On the Post Office she certainly doesn’t hold back. And her thoughts on the litigation, which she has been following remotely, are fascinating.
We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town
What intrigued me about Nicki’s story is what it reveals about the modus operandi of the Post Office goon squad – the investigators they used to (still do?) send in when they suspect criminal activity.
It seems in Nicki’s case (and I only have Nicki’s side of the story to go on as the Post Office haven’t commented), the Post Office decided that the Horizon discrepancy at her branch was a de facto indication of criminal activity. There doesn’t appear to be any indication the investigators considered a) whether Horizon might be faulty b) anything else.
The steamroller approach to criminal prosecution (intimidate a Subpostmaster into a guilty plea, or bank on a jury deciding there’s no smoke without fire) has worked for the Post Office on many occasions. In Nicki they found someone who stuck to her guns, lucked out on a decent barrister, faced them down in court and won.
However, this came at huge personal cost. Nicki’s mental health was ruined and there’s no doubt in her mind she is a changed person.
Again I will reiterate I am only dealing with one side of the story, but there just doesn’t seem to be any good reason why Nicki was put through a criminal prosecution. Because if the Post Office had evidence of criminal activity, you’d think they would produce it in court.
When I say Nicki “won,” she won nothing. She was acquitted by jury and walked free from court. The first thing she did after that was collapse. She’s had no apology, no redress and no communication from the Post Office since the end of her trial. She had to pick up the pieces of her life when she was least equipped to do so.
But why am I telling you all this when you can read all this on the website? (I don’t know, why are you? – Ed.)
As I said to Nicki, publishing her story is unlikely to make the slightest bit of difference, but I think it’s important to publish as many testimonies as possible. They may prove useful.
You’re the only one x 2
This again. Nicki, predictably, was told by her investigators that she was the only person having problems with Horizon. I am still in the hunt for other Subpostmasters or branch managers/counter staff who were told the same thing. I have had a low response to my request for this information, perhaps because it was August and people have other things on their minds, perhaps details are now a little hazy. Perhaps it didn’t happen that often. But it would be useful to know.
To help me out, if you were ever told you were the only person having problems with Horizon by the Post Office (or the NFSP – I understand their reps might have been at it too), please get in touch.
I need to know:
- who told you (their name)
- when exactly they told you
- where they told you this
- under what circumstances (passing comment, formal interview etc)
- who witnessed it
- where it might be corroborated (ie recordings, notes etc)
All replies will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
Wake me up when September ends
With regards to the rest of this month, I have the personal testimony of one gentleman to collate and publish (the donkey work on that has been done by a secret emailer who I will credit, if she will let me), and I am hoping for a couple of guest posts from interested parties.
By the time the October comes around, we will be looking at the Court of Appeal’s decision on the Post Office request for permission to appeal the first trial judgment. That will be a huge day as it will either open up new flank for the Post Office in this litigation, or it will mean that every word of the original judgment stands. High stakes stuff.
In the meantime do keep the correspondence coming. It’s alway good to hear from you, even if I am not able to give you much more than an acknowledgment by response. i do read everything I get that comes through.